In experiences from Peru to Texas and in other times in their lives, BYU–Pathway Worldwide President Brian K. Ashton and his wife, Sister Melinda Ashton, have seen the blessings of intentionally choosing to build on the foundation of Jesus Christ through making covenants. They shared their experiences with BYU–Pathway Worldwide students in the semester’s opening devotional on Tuesday, Jan. 11.
They pointed to when President Russell M. Nelson said in the October 2021 general conference: “My dear brothers and sisters, these are the latter days. If you and I are to withstand the forthcoming perils and pressures, it is imperative that we each have a firm spiritual foundation built upon the rock of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.”
President Ashton explained three ways to build a foundation on “the rock of our Redeemer.”
First is to choose to trust that God loves His children, only wants the best for them, knows what His children want and need, has the power to bless, and will bless those who follow His commandments.
Second is to choose to repent and keep the commandments.
“Because we choose to trust God, we forsake evil and turn our hearts and will to God by choosing to keep His commandments,” he said.
Third is to choose to make and keep covenants with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
Sister Ashton shared what building a foundation on Jesus Christ looks like in her life. The more she studies and learns about God’s character and the Atonement, the easier it is to choose to exercise faith in Jesus Christ as she recognizes “that He can and will do what He says He will do.”
Building on that faith, she wants to make and keep covenants as she wants the promises in those covenants. Through those covenants, she’s blessed with power and confidence, which helps to increase her ability to work through problems, keep the commandments and develop God-like attributes.
“I’ve learned that we must choose to build our spiritual foundation on Jesus Christ. It is about making intentional choices to believe and to act often in the face of difficulty and uncertainty,” she said. ”It’s also important to remember that the key to consistently receiving God’s power in our lives is making and keeping covenants.”
When President Ashton served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Peru, there were economic challenges that made it difficult for people to have enough to eat. He told of a woman who shared in church how each weekday she would go out and work to earn the money she needed to buy food and try to have some for Sundays. When she wasn’t able to have enough for Sundays, too, she would pray, explain to Heavenly Father that she had done her best and asked Him for her help. Then she would sit on a chair in front of her house and wait.
“She testified that inevitably someone always brought her food,” he said. “Her covenants gave her access to the faith and strength to trust that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ would provide for her needs.”
Sister Ashton shared how when they were serving as mission leaders in Houston, Texas, there was a point where she was overwhelmed and exhausted with all of her responsibilities and additional challenges. She reminded herself that she knew God was a loving and kind Heavenly Father, that she had a Savior who had performed the Atonement so she could repent and also ask for help with the trials she was facing, and that she had made covenants and was striving to keep them.
As she chose to believe, her challenges weren’t immediately solved, she said. She continued to pray and asked for help, and saw how she was blessed with strength to move forward.
“I have learned from experience, that when life is overwhelming and I feel uncertain and confused, that I can turn to my Heavenly Father and Savior and choose to believe that they are mindful of me and my circumstances and will help me,” she said. “I testify that as you exercise faith in Their character and love, you will find strength to open your mind and heart to Their guidance.”
President Ashton told students that while there will be times when the blessings come in the timeframe people seek, other times, it will be on God’s timing.
“God will sustain us and bless us in the ways that we need so that we can become more like Jesus Christ,” he said. “The key for each of us is to make sacred covenants with God and then keep them.”