General Authority Seventy’s advice to BYU–Hawaii students about wishing for a different time

While speaking to BYU–Hawaii students during a devotional May 25, Elder Jack N. Gerard of the Seventy acknowledged the difficulties of the time that students are living in — difficulties that bring about unmet expectations, an anxiousness to “get back on track,” a sense of isolation and a loss of control. 

“I am sure most have had moments when we may have wished for a different time or different way,” he said.

Ancient prophets felt similarly, such as Alma the Younger, who declared, “O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart … But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me” (Alma 29:1, 3).

Nephi, the son of Helaman, also expressed a desire for a different time after being rejected by the Nephites in the land northward, mindful of his namesake prophet-leader who lived generations earlier: 

“Oh, that I could have had my days in the days when my father Nephi first came out of the land of Jerusalem, that I could have joyed with him in the promised land; then were his people easy to be entreated, firm to keep the commandments of God, and slow to be led to do iniquity; and they were quick to hearken unto the words of the Lord” (Helaman 7:7).

“I don’t recall that father Nephi, some 500 years earlier, had such an easy time with his brothers Laman and Lemuel, and that the hardships they endured traveling through the wilderness were all that easy,” Elder Gerard pointed out.

Elder Jack N. Gerard, center right, and his wife, Sister Claudette Gerard, pose for a photo with BYU–Hawaii President John S.K. Kauwe III, center left, and his wife, Sister Monica Kauwe, and students prior to the campus devotional held in the Cannon Activities Center in Laie, Hawaii, on Tuesday, May 25, 2021.
Elder Jack N. Gerard, center right, and his wife, Sister Claudette Gerard, pose for a photo with BYU–Hawaii President John S.K. Kauwe III, center left, and his wife, Sister Monica Kauwe, and students prior to the campus devotional held in the Cannon Activities Center in Laie, Hawaii, on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. Credit: Monique Saenz, BYU–Hawaii

“But then Nephi continues, ‘Yea, if my days could have been in those days, then would my soul have had joy in the righteousness of my brethren’.  And then he concludes, ‘But behold, I am consigned that these are my days’” (Helaman 7:8-9).

The word consigned has multiple meanings. Nephi’s use of the word follows the standard definition “to give over to another’s care” or “to give, transfer, or deliver into the hands or control of another.” Synonyms of consign include words such as commit, entrust, relegate, confide or turn over.

“When we are consigned,” Elder Gerard explained, “we turn ourselves over to the Lord who will make us something greater than we could ever imagine.”

“Consigning” oneself to the Lord by bringing souls unto Him entails great joy, but it can also mean experiencing great suffering. This principle is illustrated in a variety of scriptural accounts.

If others were to record the present day, “would they report that we wiled away our days wishing for a better place and different time?” Elder Gerard asked. “Or would they record that we did consign ourselves to the Lord knowing the worth of souls is great in the sight of God, turning over our lives to the Lord with an attitude of ‘Thy will be done?’”

The depth of one’s conversion can be measured by examining personal willingness to submit or “consign” oneself to the Lord. Elder Gerard described the mortal journey as “a continuum of conversion — everything we do or say will either contribute to deepening our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement as we move along the covenant path, or potentially move us away.” This continuum of conversion reflects multiple steps in an individual’s life as they learn to turn themselves over to the Lord.  

Elder Gerard echoed the words of President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who taught that “true conversion comes through the power of the Spirit. When the Spirit touches the heart, hearts are changed.”

Read more: In these ‘exceptional’ times, BYU–Hawaii graduates taught they can find enduring strength in eternal truths

The ultimate consignment comes when the invitation to “let God prevail” is heeded, an invitation given by President Russell M. Nelson during the October 2020 general conference.

Several months ago, Elder Gerard became acquainted with a young man named Eric. As Eric, a nonmember law school student at BYU, visited with Elder Gerard about his professional career, Elder Gerard invited him to listen to general conference. A few months later, Elder Gerard was invited to Eric’s baptism.

After his baptism and confirmation, Eric told his conversion story. He shared that he did not fully understand why he felt he was to come to BYU, but said that “when (he) decided to let God prevail in (his) life, things seemed to change, and (he) was much happier.” 

Elder Gerard invited listeners to “recognize and be consigned that this is our day,” testifying that “as we learn to turn ourselves over to the will of the Lord, our conversion will deepen and that we make the ultimate consignment by letting God prevail in all aspects of our lives.”