During the Sunday, Feb. 11, devotional with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, BYU–Idaho’s women’s chorus filled the I-Center auditorium with the scriptural lyrics of “Consider the Lilies,” by Roger Hoffman.
“He clothes the lilies of the field. He feeds the birds in the sky. And He will feed those who trust Him, and guide them with His eye,” the choir sang.
The promise found within those musical verses — “He will feed and guide those who trust Him” — “is for you, now and in the future,” Elder Gong assured the BYU–Idaho students, campus leaders and local Church leaders gathered for the devotional.
In his devotional address, Elder Gong provided insights and counsel, inviting listeners to “live with trust, faith, joy and gratitude in the spirit of the lilies of the field.” He was accompanied to Rexburg, Idaho, by his wife, Sister Susan Gong, who also spoke. BYU–Idaho President Alvin F. Meredith III conducted the devotional. He was accompanied by his wife, Sister Jennifer Meredith.
This promise of the lilies of the field is so important that Jesus Christ shares it, not only in the New Testament but also in the Doctrine and Covenants and Book of Mormon, Elder Gong noted. (See Matthew 6:28-30; Luke 12:27-28; 3 Nephi 13:28-30; Doctrine and Covenants 84:82-83.)
President Russell M. Nelson shared a related invitation when he invited Latter-day Saints to hear Jesus Christ and the still, small voice by being still (“What We Are Learning and Will Never Forget,” April 2021 general conference; see also Psalm 46:10 and Doctrine and Covenants 101:16).
Said Elder Gong, “Both invitations encourage us to open our hearts and minds — in the spirit of revelation — so the divine beauty, majesty and purpose of God’s creations can bear testimony of their Supreme Creator. Both invitations urge us to feel Heavenly Father’s and our Savior’s spiritual assurances that They love and are close to us. And both invitations call us to let go of things which matter less or which may ultimately not matter at all.”
In treasuring up the things of heaven, Elder Gong taught, “we become less concerned with today’s fickle fashions, comparing ourselves to others, judging who deserves or does not deserve what we or they receive from God, or anything else that becomes a worldly dead end to our spiritual growth.”
Applying the lessons of the lilies of the field
Elder Gong then applied the spirit of the lilies of the field to two areas in which many students are making important decisions: Choosing an eternal companion and choosing one’s education, family and profession.
When Elder and Sister Gong were married, Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counseled them to always hold a calling in the Church. Elder Haight said: “Especially when life is busy, hold a Church calling so you feel the Lord’s love for those you serve and for you, as you grow in His service.”
Elder Gong encouraged students: “Please commit now to lifelong service in the Lord’s Church. ... Let your BYU–I experiences and testimony bless those around you, and let the spiritual growth that comes through Church service bless your marriage and family.”
In his years as president of a student stake on a university campus, Elder Gong said he observed that “happy couples CTR in DTR” or “choose the right in defining the relationship.”
“In intentional ways small and large — whether just starting to date, courting or during their engagement — happy couples set distinct, appropriate goals and bounds that bless their lives now and later.”
He asked students to trust God when choosing an education and profession. “Work hard and smart each day so you can support and nurture your family and contribute to the Church, your community, society and the world,” Elder Gong said.
God does care about each individual’s trajectory. “You can trust God,” Elder Gong assured. “You can step off this world’s perfectionist treadmill and its siren song that you are inadequate, never good enough.”
He also noted, “Many opportunities are opening for those who know how to learn, who truly become lifelong learners.”
Elder Gong prayed the lessons of the lilies of the field would bring peace, assurance and the trust of God to the heart of each student. “In today’s busy, cluttered world, may you know God has a plan of happiness for you, that Jesus Christ’s Atonement is real, and all things can work together for your good, in His time and way. Please walk uprightly and remember your covenants with Jesus Christ as found in His restored Church, called in His name — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
In her remarks, Sister Gong shared how in the last year, she lost her mother, Elder Gong’s mother passed away and a lifelong friend was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
During this reflective time, Sister Gong spoke of four gifts that feel “particularly precious”: life itself, relationships, prayer and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
“Let’s be grateful for every moment, cherish our relationships, draw close to God in prayer, and have faith in our Savior and God’s plan of happiness,” Sister Gong said. “I testify that these things are real. They matter. The gospel is true, powerful, beautiful and important.”