‘Shortest and surest pathway to happiness’ is through the covenant path, President Lund tells MTC missionaries

Young Men general president’s message of finding happiness through Christ — despite unplanned moments — includes anecdotes involving President Nelson

One morning at the Georgia Atlanta Mission home, while her parents were serving as mission leaders, 14-year-old Kelsey Lund accidentally knocked a container of icy orange juice into the lap of then-Elder Russell M. Nelson.

Elder Nelson “jumped up suddenly and said, ‘Well, that was refreshing,’ and then hurried off to his room and changed clothes and came back again,” recalled her father, President Steven J. Lund, now Young Men general president.

President Steven J. Lund uses his hands to tell a story at a Provo MTC devotional.
President Steven J. Lund, Young Men general president, tells the story of his daughter spilling a large container of orange juice on then-Elder Russell M Nelson when the latter was visiting the Lunds as they presided over the Atlanta Georgia Mission nearly two decades ago. President Lund spoke during the Provo Missionary Training Center devotional in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

“But he came back with a crisp $2 bill and said, ‘Kelsey, while I was away, I was remembering that I saw that you’ve got a birthday coming up in a few days. And so I brought you this $2 bill as a birthday present.’”

President Lund said the character of now-President Nelson, President of the Church, “was revealed in the spontaneity of that unplanned moment. He was love personified, through and through.”

While later driving with Elder Nelson to a zone conference, President Lund ran through a red light by accident. At a loss for words, he admitted, “Well, I’ve never actually run a red light with an apostle in the car before.”

“I have never run a red light with an apostle in the car before…” says Young Men General President Steven J. Lund he relates an unplanned moment with then-Elder Russell M. Nelson en route to a zone conference when the Lunds were presiding over the Georgia Atlanta Mission nearly 20 years ago. President Lund spoke at the Provo Missionary Training Center devotional in Provo, Utah on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

But Elder Nelson, “in this unplanned moment, ... said, ‘Oh, President Lund, it wasn’t red. That red light was only winking at you.’ My terror subsided, and I knew again this was a leader to be followed.”

President Lund related the experiences to missionaries in the Provo Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, Jan. 24. His wife, Sister Kalleen Lund, and Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, both gave brief remarks as well, with all the messages centered around finding happiness through Christ, despite unplanned moments.

The Savior’s unplanned moments

Even Jesus had to deal with unexpected moments, President Lund said, because “He had to experience and overcome our challenges and our temptations using the same toolbox that’s available to us.”

President Lund shared the story of Christ’s visit to the Americas in 3 Nephi. After a long day of teaching, the Savior encouraged the Nephites to rest and await more teachings the next day.

However, the Savior sees “they don’t want Him to leave,” President Lund said. “And it seems that in that unexpected moment, He made a decision” to stay longer with the people He loved.

“He took a breath as if to say, ‘I can’t leave you like this,’” said President Lund, adding that the Savior decided to postpone His departure in order to heal the sick and afflicted and minister to the children.

“So, when you hear the question ‘What’s the point of devoting ourselves to Him?’ we might think of His spontaneous devotion to us. We, to Him, are not abstract subjects. We are His flesh and blood.”

Sister Kalleen Lund, wife of Young Men General President Steven J. Lund, speaking from a pulpit at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.
Sister Kalleen Lund, wife of Young Men General President Steven J. Lund, speaks at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

Lost in Germany

While a junior in high school, Sister Lund moved to Frankfurt, Germany. She took a streetcar alone to church on her first Sunday there with no trouble. While riding the way back, though, she realized the streetcar took a different route than the one she had followed to the chapel. “I was terribly lost and terribly alone,” said Sister Lund, “and there was no one to turn to but my Heavenly Father.”

Sister Lund offered a sincere prayer. “I suggested in my prayer that I would remain calm in my seat until I felt prompted to get off the train. And then I would have to rely on Heavenly Father to take it from there.”

Eventually, she felt a soft spiritual feeling “like a feather,” so she walked off the train and into a dark underground station. Sister Lund soon heard English speakers, four kind people around her age, who were able to take a train with her back to the hotel.

In her dark moment, God had helped her find rescue.

“You’re going to teach people who are living in darkness and don’t even know it,” Sister Lund testified to the congregation of missionaries. “And you’re going to teach them the God of light, and He will be able to rescue them in the ways that He rescued me.” Rescue is available to those willing to connect with their Heavenly Father.

The sheet music for the hymn “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” sits at the organ during the Provo Missionary Training Center devotional in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. Young Men General President Steven J. Lund was the devotional’s keynote speaker. | Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

Trusting the Savior’s covenant path

President Lund said some don’t believe the Savior’s path will bring the most happiness. "We sometimes think that a little disobedience is going to make us happier. So we step off the path into the weeds, distancing ourselves from God, where we experience less joy and the eventual consequences of our misdeeds that bring us pain.”

He testified that contrary to this flawed belief, the “shortest and surest pathway to happiness” is found through the Savior’s doctrine, His Church and His covenant path.

“Jesus is happy Himself because He is one with the Father’s plan of happiness. That is where we’re going to find happiness too.”

The Lord will join His disciples in this journey, said President Lund, but they must first act in faith. “Like the children of Israel crossing the Jordan, they had to get their feet wet first to see the water divide.” The Savior’s miracles both relieve suffering and grow capacities of those who follow Him in faith.

President Lund said the Savior “is that Parent who, at an important moment in the game, when you’re passed the ball, and you shoot, and you miss, and He’s the one standing on the bleachers, yelling above the crowd, ‘Great effort. ... You keep shooting. You’ve got this. I’ve got you.’ ... He respects your efforts, and He will never stop believing in you.”

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