Each time we take the sacrament, we covenant to keep God's commandments and always remember Him." How often, though, do we actually remember Christ?
This speech was given July 26, 2005.
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"I am humbled this morning to share a few words and pray I might say some things that will increase our desire and ability to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful for university devotionals. They are a nice break from academic work and let us focus on the weightier matters of the kingdom. I know you students appreciate the chance to get away from writing papers and studying for exams. I have heard how difficult some of those exams can be.
I was told of a zoology professor who is so tough a grader that nobody has ever received an A in his course. Last semester, history was being made because an especially bright student had A’s on the two midterms. If he could get an A on the final he would have the first A in this professor’s class—ever. The final test was on birds, and so the student practically memorized the three chapters on birds. He went to the library, checked out extra readings, and felt ready for anything that might appear on the final.
The day of the final the professor said, “Good morning, students. This is your final exam.” From underneath the table he pulled out three stuffed birds. Each of them was covered with a little hood, and all you could see were the legs and feet poking out from underneath the hoods. He said, “Now, students, looking at the legs and feet of these three specimens, I’d like you to tell me their common names and their scientific names. That’s all you have to do. You have an hour and a half to complete the exam. Begin.”
The class sat absolutely stunned. There are thousands of bird species. How do you identify a bird by looking at the legs and feet? This test was given so nobody would get an A. The student who previously thought he had a shot at getting an A wrote down some names he knew were probably incorrect. He went up, slammed his paper on the professor’s desk, and said, “Sir, that’s the dumbest test I’ve ever taken in my life. I want to tell you something else. You are the most boring lecturer on this campus.”
The professor fumbled for a pen and said, “Just one minute, student. What was your name?”
The student thought for a second, pulled up his pant leg, showed his hairy leg, and said, “Why don’t you tell me?”
Sometimes professors need to be put in their places.
Now I know you appreciate this chance to have a break from academics, but I’m hoping you won’t mind if I pull a short pop quiz to help explore today’s subject. Please answer the following questions in your mind.
Question Number 1: What great event turned around the life of Alma the Younger? If you responded that an angel of God came down and called Alma to repentance, I would give you partial credit. Certainly that was part of the equation. But I think the story more importantly illustrates the power of remembering the Savior and thinking of Him than it illustrates the ability of angels to call us to repentance.
Alma reported being tormented for three days. Sometimes we think that is some sort of record. It’s not. He could have gone three months, three years, or a lifetime and still not felt redemption. In other Book of Mormon stories angels confronted individuals such as Laman and Lemuel with their misdeeds, but no repentance and lasting change were seen. What was the difference with Alma the Younger? Here is how he described it:
As I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more.
I believe this story illustrates the tremendous power of remembering and thinking about the Savior. The focus of this devotional talk is the need to “always remember him” and to consider the blessings that come from remembering the Savior.
Back to the pop quiz.
Question Number 2: If you combine the two sacrament prayers,2 how many times is the phrase “and keep his commandments” used? The answer is one time. It is in the blessing of the bread."