Elder Renlund counsels BYU–Pathway students against ‘looking beyond the mark’

Farsightedness can cause Latter-day Saints to miss out on the blessings that are right in front of them

In the early 20th century, a wealthy Englishman decided he would find King Tutankhamun’s tomb.

George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, the fifth earl of Carnarvon, had hired well-known Egyptologist Howard Carter in 1907 to oversee the archaeology projects he’d taken interest in while living in Egypt. After their digs saw some successes, Lord Carnarvon decided he and Carter would next tackle the archeological mystery of King Tutankhamun’s final resting place.

King Tutankhamun’s tomb was known to be in the Valley of the Kings but had never been found.

But after five years of methodical digging and nothing to show for it, Lord Carnarvon was ready to give up. Carter, however, negotiated for one more season of digging, realizing there was only one place they hadn’t searched: directly under their base camp. Within several days of digging under the camp, the tomb was found.

Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told this story on Tuesday, May 23, during a BYU–Pathway devotional to teach about the pitfalls of farsightedness.

“This story illustrates what can happen when people focus on things in the distance at the expense of what’s directly in front of them,” he said. “When our eyeballs are too short, we become hyperopic or farsighted. This makes it so that things that are close are out of focus. We often take close things for granted because they’re so familiar.”

In the archeology example, the consequence of the farsighted pathology was simply a few extra frustrating years of digging, Elder Renlund said. But the consequences for being spiritually hyperopic are “far worse.”

The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob saw that the people in Jerusalem at the time of Christ “were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness ... and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they [stumbled]” (Jacob 4:14).

Looking beyond the mark was a manifestation of their spiritual hyperopia, Elder Renlund said, and as a result, they missed the Savior of the world.

“In our day, we must also guard against spiritual hyperopia,” he said. “If we succumb to it, we can miss the blessings that come from Jesus Christ. ... Thinking that there’s a need for something beyond what Jesus Christ offers diminishes the scope and power of His infinite Atonement in our lives.”

Elder Renlund said some things that are close at hand but can get taken for granted are Church attendance, prayer and scripture study. Additionally, Latter-day Saints may sometimes underestimate the value of having a living prophet because he’s so familiar and his words are so accessible.

“I pray that you’ll treasure what is close at hand so that you can receive God’s blessings,” Elder Renlund said. “... You need not search far and wide to find a guru who will tell you the path to happiness. ... That happiness is right where you are. It’s not in the far distance.”

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