Elder Jeffrey R Holland spoke at a-BYU Idaho commencement a decade or more back. His address was shared again, on the BYU-Idaho Devotional podcast just two weeks ago. It is a message that was applicable to the graduating class in 2006, as well as listeners today, in 2020. It is a message of faith and vision, and of the power of “commencing”. He began by quoting President Brigham Young, at the time the Church was building a temple – something they had tried to do, as a people, twice before:

“Some will inquire, ‘Do you suppose we will finish this temple, Brother Brigham?’ I have had such questions put to me already. 

My answer is, I do not know, and I do not care. . . .  I have never cared but for one thing, and that is, simply to know that I am now right before my Father in Heaven.  If I am this moment, this day, doing the things God requires of my hands, and precisely where my Father in Heaven wants me to be, I care no more about tomorrow than though it never would come.  I do not know where I shall be tomorrow, nor do I know when this temple will be done. . . . This I do know―there should be a temple built here.  I do know it is the duty of this people to commence to build a temple.”

My dearest friends reading my thoughts today, I commenced down a specific path when I started ONE YEAR. I started, at that very moment, 169 days ago, on the floor in my closet, to change my life-experience.

And I do not know where this path will lead me. But I do know what kind of person it will help me become. I am developing a relationship with that person, now. She is my friend. She is my confidant. She is my counselor. She is who I am becoming.

And I do know, without a doubt, that it is my duty to God to “commence” – to build this “temple” to the Lord. The path has been laid before me.

Of Brigham Young, Elder Holland said:

“He didn’t know exactly when the building of the Salt Lake Temple would be completed nor exactly what the final product would ultimately contain.  He didn’t know that Johnson’s Army would soon be coming, nor that the railroad would bring the world to the Saints, even as they were trying to escape the world.  Nor did he know he would die some 15 years before the temple would be completed.  But he knew God intended that he and the Saints undertake this task—that they could begin and be faithful and be true, even if they couldn’t see the end from the beginning…

(By commencing) you are making your own inspired, pioneering journey. And you will have some Kirtland’s and Jackson County’s, and some Nauvoo’s along the way. 

Not every aspect of the future goal is clear; for that matter not every aspect of the present challenge about how to get there is clear…

Be faithful.  Stand steady.  Believe in what God intends for you personally.”

I have started. And I am learning along the way. And there is so much that I don’t know. I imagine there are things in my future – next week, next month, next year, next decade – that I cannot even now imagine. Probably many things!

“I do not know … but (I only care) to know that I am now right before my Father in Heaven. (That I am) at this moment, this day, doing the things God requires of my hands, and precisely where my Father in Heaven wants me to be.”

Commence. And then continue as we commenced, lest the privilege is taken from us (Doctrine and Covenants 9:5).

My testimony is this. There is a living God, who is aware of each one of us, and has a mission for each of us, individually. He respects our agency, and, as such, will provide the means – the circumstances, the education, the Gospel principles and ordinances, even the desire, and even the “why” – but He will not force. He will, because of His love for us and His respect for our agency, allow us to learn and to grow and to struggle and to even fall, at times, as we become who it is He is confident we already are. I will trust my life in His hands, and I will continue as I commenced.

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