As Sister Derrick and I came onto your campus this morning, I was reminded of Dr. Sidney Sperry, your former Dean of the School of Religious Studies, under whom we had the opportunity of studying monthly for some twenty to twenty-five years. As he stood on the foothills of these mountains to the east and looked over what at that time was a relatively small school, the Lord showed him a vision of what the school would become. As Brigham Young University has developed into the great school that it is, the visions, dreams, and faith of many have been realized. I am sure that all of us thrill in the quality of instruction, the beauty of the campus, and the great students who come here from throughout the world.
In Honolulu a few months ago I boarded a plane, sat in my seat, and was strapping myself in when a man sat by my side. I introduced myself to him and extended my hand in a greeting of good fellowship. He was of Japanese extraction, spoke impeccable English, and explained that he was on his way to Boise, Idaho, to attend a bank directors’ meeting. Immediately I was curious.
“Which bank?” I queried.
“Citizens National,” he replied.
“Then you must be acquainted with Martin Zachreson, who is mission president in Southern California for the Mormon Church.”
“Yes,” he said. “ I wondered why he would leave the position of chairman of the board of a successful bank to serve as a mission president for a mere living allowance.”
As you can imagine, that opened a door that I was anxious to walk through. So I asked, “May I explain to you?”
“I would be pleased if you would,” he said.
“First, may I ask, are you a Christian?”
He said, “No.”
Then I asked, “Do you believe in God?”
He said, “Yes.”
“Would you mind telling me of your understanding of God?”
His answer was typical of most people. He spoke of a spirit that fills the universe, an impersonal God whose relationship to man was unclear. I thought, this is the problem we have in teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ—we are not in agreement on the nature of the Godhead, which is essential to an understanding of the gospel. A man trained in such beliefs would find it difficult to relate to Joseph Smith’s first vision until he came to understand who God really is.
I told him that I have a neighbor living across the street from me who, in 1950, came from Princeton University to the University of Utah. His name is Henry Eyring. At that time he had already gained eminence as a great scientist. He told us a story that I have not forgotten. He said that at one time he was invited to attend a world meeting of scientists. Each person present had the opportunity of standing before the group and saying whatever he chose. Dr. Eyring stood before this group of scientists and asked, “What is the Second Law of Thermodynamics?”
One of the scientists responded that if two bodies of different temperatures with no external influences are placed in conjunction the heat from one will flow to the other until they reach the same temperature—that is, a condition of equilibrium.
Dr. Eyring went on to explain what is meant by equilibrium. He said that if one saw water running down a creek bed, he would think that to be quite natural; but if he saw water running up the creek bed, he would think something was wrong. The water should be seeking its lowest level, or a state of equilibrium. If one saw a rock rolling down the side of a canyon wall, he would think that to be quite natural; but if he saw the rock rolling up the side of the canyon wall, he might think that to be quite unusual. The falling rock would be seeking its equilibrium. If a glass on a table were pushed to the side, it would drop to the floor, but one would hardly expect the glass to jump from the floor onto the table. The falling glass would be seeking its equilibrium. Then he asked, “If you were in the desert and found a watch lying on the desert floor, what would you conclude?”
One of the scientists responded, “That someone had been there before.”
“Furthermore,” Dr. Eyring queried, “If you picked up the watch and put it to your ear and found that it was ticking, what would you conclude?”
The response came: “That someone had been there recently and wound it up.”
Dr. Eyring continued, “We have an interesting phenomenon in the universe. We have a sun that is very hot and an earth that is relatively cold. Had they existed that way forever, according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, they would be the same temperature—they would be in a state of equilibrium. But they are not. One it still very hot and the other relatively cold.”
Dr. Eyring then said to his colleagues, “Someone had to wind the universe up. Who was it?” Then he sat down.
Following the meeting he walked down the aisle with Dr. Millikan, who at that time was the world’s most renowned physicist. Dr. Eyring asked, “Dr. Millikan, what is the answer to my question?”
Dr. Millikan said, “Obviously, there is a creator.”
Dr. Eyring says that there are conflicts in science and religion. We have conflicts between science and science, and we have conflicts between religion and religion. But there is no conflict between true science and true religion, for when science finds the truth it will conform to the true religion. When Dr. Eyring left Pima, Arizona, to gain his education and to seek his fortune, his wise father said to him, “Now remember, son, you don’t need to believe anything that isn’t true. The gospel of Jesus Christ encompasses all truth. And if it isn’t true, it isn’t gospel.”
There is a creator. But who is he? In section 38, verses one through three, of the Doctrine and Covenants we read,
Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I AM, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made;
The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes;
I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me.
The creator of the world is the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In section 93 of the Doctrine and Covenants, verses six through ten, the Lord said:
And John saw and bore record of the fullness of my glory, and the fullness of John’s record is hereafter to be revealed.
And he bore record, saying: I saw his glory [speaking of Jesus Christ], that he was in the beginning, before the world was;
Therefore, in the beginning the Word was, for he was the Word, even the messenger of salvation—
The light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men.
The worlds were made by him; men were made by him; all things were made by him, and through him, and of him.
In the Gospel according to St. John, we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” It helps us to understand that statement when we know what John meant by “the Word.” In section 93 of the Doctrine and Covenants John made it very clear what he meant by “the Word”: he meant Jesus Christ. Now let us take the name Jesus Christ and substitute it for “the Word.”
In the beginning was [Jesus Christ], and [Jesus Christ] was with God, and [Jesus Christ] was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. [John 1:1-3]
Now that makes it clear, does it not?
In section 130, verse twenty-two, of the Doctrine and Covenants Joseph Smith says: “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.”
The Lord asked Peter, “Whom say ye that I am?”
Peter answered, “Thou are the Christ, the son of the living God.”
The Savior said, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:15-17.)
And when Pontias Pilate said to Jesus, “Art thou the king of the Jews?” meaning the long-awaited Christ, the Savior said: “Thou sayest it” (Mark 15:2).
There was never another person who claimed to be the creator of this world and backed it up with such authority as did Jesus Christ. He healed the sick, he gave sight to the blind, he cast out evil spirits, he controlled the elements, he made the lame to walk, and he raised the dead. Never did anyone prove his divinity as did our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants, verses twenty-two through twenty-four, the Prophet Joseph Smith said:
And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.
Some people say that all religions lead to heaven and that all churches are God’s churches. Let me ask you this question: How many governments do we have in the United States? Obviously, one. If we had more than one government, what condition would prevail? It would be chaos, would it not? Suppose that we have five governments, or fifty? What if we had five hundred, or five thousand, or as many as we have different churches? Is man smarter than God, or is God smarter than man? Would God have more than one government? Jesus Christ said, “If ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27). I submit that there is either one church on the earth that is the church of God, or there is none. The Lord restored the gospel and Church of Jesus Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith. It is our claim that there is only one government of God upon the earth—the kingdom of God—and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth” (D&C 1:30).
I was invited to be on a panel at the school of business of the University of Utah a month or two ago. The subject of our discussion was our value system—an interesting topic. There were four of us on the panel: two ministers of Christian faith, a college professor, and myself. As the panelists began to express themselves, I noticed that the two ministers and the college professor quoted what men said about value systems. Two of them had several books, and they read what these authors had said about the determination of value systems. I felt a little ignorant as I listened to them because I did not recognize the authors or know of their philosophy. By the time my turn came, I had realized that my value system was determined by the Creator. So I turned to the book of Exodus and quoted the Ten Commandments and attempted to weave our value system into that foundation. I do not know that I was particularly articulate, but as I have pondered this matter since that time I have realized that we were talking about a tremendously important subject—the source of our value system.
I was sitting at the soup bar in the Hotel Utah one day when two men sat beside me. One said to the other, “I’ve been studying the philosophy of the Mormons, and I think that they have really got something.”
The other said, “Oh, they have a few things that are all right, but most of what they’ve got is all wrong.”
As I listened to them I could hardly restrain my self from saying, “What right have you got to establish what is right and what is wrong? There is only one person who has that right and that is He who created the world.”
In section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord tells us in verses fifteen and sixteen what is wrong with the world today. He says, speaking of mankind, “For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant.” Then he says: “They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way.” That is so true. When every one makes his own determination of what is right and what is wrong, we have so many different value systems that we could not possibly be one, as Jesus Christ commissioned us to be.
If you were playing in a basketball game, you would have to play by the rules or you would be taken out of the game. Who has the right to make up the rules? It is those who have been given the authority to do so. If you attempted to make up your own rules, you simply could not play in the game. How many people do we have throughout the world who attempt to make up their own rules, set their own value systems, and determine what is right and what is wrong regarding the true philosophy and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ?
When we come to a better understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we begin to better understand our own potential. When the Savior invited Peter to walk on the water and Peter failed, the Savior said, “O thou of little faith.” If Peter had understood the power of his associate, Jesus Christ, he would have known more of his own potential and could have walked on the water. (See Matthew 14:28-31.) The Savior said, “All things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:24). The apostle Paul put it in a way that is more directed to you and me when he said: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). I would like to give you an example.
It was just a year ago next week when the telephone rang in my office and I answered it to hear the voice on the other end of the line say, “This is Doug Snarr speaking.” My mind turned back some fifteen or twenty years to the time when Doug first came to my office. He had recently moved from Idaho Falls to expand his sign business into Utah. I had difficulty communicating with him at that time because he stuttered quite badly. But now, on the phone, he said without any stutter, “I want you to come over to the Salt Palace tomorrow afternoon at 4:40. I’m sending a ticket to you.”
I knew that it was important to Doug, or he would not have asked me to come; I said, “I’ll be there.”
The following afternoon at 4:40 I sat in the Salt Palace on the second row. My seat had been reserved. As I looked around, I estimated that there were approximately ten thousand people present. Again I looked at my ticket; it read fifteen dollars. Noticing that I had a better seat than some of the others in the audience, I reasoned that the average cost of a seat for one day was about twelve dollars. I multiplied twelve dollars by ten thousand people and I was impressed.
Don Hutson had been speaking when I arrived; he was an excellent speaker. He finished at five o’clock, and the person who was conducting the session came to the podium and introduced Doug Snarr. The lights went out, Doug stepped to the podium, and the spotlight came on. There stood Doug to give his talk. He told the audience that he had been raised in Idaho Falls; his father owned a potato farm about five miles west of the city. When he was young, he said, he stuttered so badly that he could not communicate. But while hoeing spuds he used to talk to the potato vines. As long as he talked to the potato vines he could get along quite well, but when he tried to talk to people he stuttered so badly that he could not be understood. As he stood in the field one day he looked to the east at the city of Idaho Falls and said to himself, “I must get into that city and meet people or I will never overcome my stuttering.”
One day he read an ad in the newspaper for a custodian in one of the stores in Idaho Falls. He knew that he could not get that job unless he offered something more than others would offer. Doug was quite a good artist, so he told the store manager how badly he wanted that job and said that if he got the job he would not only keep the store clean but would paint the display signs and thus save the cost of one employee. What employer could resist such an offer? Needless to say, Doug got the job of cleaning the store and painting the signs.
At the same time, Doug was going to high school, and there was a young girl in his class who he thought was the most beautiful creature that he had ever seen. He did not have the courage to ask her for a date, so he got one of his friends to set him up on a blind date with her. On the big night when he was to keep the date, he paced back and forth in front of her house for thirty or forty minutes, until he just about wore a path in the concrete sidewalk. Finally he got up the courage to knock on the door. The girl’s father answered the door and said, “Who are you?” When Doug tried to answer he could not say a word—he just stammered and stuttered. Just at the moment when he was ready to sink into oblivion, the young lady came tripping down the circular stairs. Seeing Doug, she called out to her father, “Daddy, meet Doug Snarr,” and saved the day.
After graduating from high school, Doug came to BYU. He registered for a class in religion; and on the first day, wanting to be as inconspicuous as possible, he slipped in the door and sat in one of the back seats. But the teacher looked down the roll, put his finger on one of the names, and asked, “Will Doug Snarr please come up and offer the invocation?” Doug walked to the front of the room and completely failed—he could only stammer and stutter. It was a disaster. After the class was over the teacher stopped him and said, “Doug if you will continue to come to my class, I promise that I will never ask you to pray before the class again.”
Doug said to himself, “That is not the answer. I must learn how to stand before a class and pray without stuttering.”
One day, while sitting in the barber shop waiting for his turn for a haircut, he opened a magazine and saw an ad about a school in St. Louis, Missouri, that taught people how to speak and to overcome stuttering. He jumped from his chair and, taking the magazine with him, hurried to his room. He packed his bags, took the next bus to Idaho Falls and, showing the ad to his father, said, “I want one thousand dollars to go to St. Louis, Missouri.”
His father said, “I’ll check it out first.” Three days later he said, “Doug, it’s a hoax. They can’t do it.”
Doug responded, “Nevertheless, I’m going to that school.”
His father said, “If you go to it, you’ll do it at your own expense.”
Doug had a friend who could talk. Since his friend could talk but could not paint signs, and since Doug could paint signs but could not talk, they made a good combination; they went into the sign business together. The traditional way to advertise with signs is to put a picture on a rectangular board. Doug discarded the rectangle and instead used the shape of the object he wanted to represent. It was a unique approach, and they were very successful. Within a few months—by September of that year—Doug had saved enough money to go to St. Louis, Missouri. As he boarded the train and they bid him goodbye, his family and friends said, “Don’t come back until you overcome your stuttering.”
Upon arriving in St. Louis, Doug went to the school and met the man who was in charge of it. He learned that the man had recognized that when stutterers sing they do not stutter. Therefore, he reasoned that if a stutterer could get a rhythm into his speaking he could overcome his problem. To get the rhythm, the stutterer swung his arm and spoke with the rhythm of his arm.
After several weeks Doug, feeling that he was not making enough progress, became despondent. He knelt and prayed to his Heavenly Father for help. While dong so, he suddenly realized that if he was going to expect help from the Lord, he had to do what the Lord had asked him to do. He got off his knees, called a cab, and went to the nearest branch of the Church. He arrived and found a sign on the meetinghouse door that announced the time for sacrament meeting—it was over for the day, but the sign also gave the name of the branch president and his address. Doug had the cab driver take him there. He knocked on the door; and the branch president’s wife answered. Doug said, swinging his arm in rhythm, “My–name–is–Doug–Snarr.” A little girl who had also come to the door ran into the other room and said to her sister, “Come see; there’s a man at the door that talks with his arm.”
Doug became a very good friend of the branch president, and his family, and they invited him to live with them. One day they invited Doug to go with them to visit the wife’s sister in a distant town. When they arrived and the sister met Doug, she said, “What you need to do is give a two-and-a-half-minute talk in Sunday School.” She picked up the telephone, called the bishop, and said, “Bishop, I have a young man here who needs to give a two-and-a-half-minute talk this Sunday. Can you arrange it? It was arranged.
The following Sunday, Doug stood at the pulpit holding on with both hands for fear of falling over. Then he realized that he could not use both hands to hold on the pulpit; he needed one of his arms to establish his speaking rhythm. He raised his right arm to the square to begin—then he realized that he could give that talk without the use of his arm. He put his hand back on the pulpit and gave his talk without a single stutter. Can you imagine how much that meant to him? He knew that he could overcome his problem of stuttering.
When Doug completed his schooling and returned home to Idaho Falls, the first place he visited was his girlfriend’s house. He knocked on the door; the father answered. Using his arm to establish the rhythm he said, “My–name–is–Doug–Snarr.” He married the girl; he said that it was the best thing he ever did.
Doug returned to the sign business and plastered Idaho with his unique signs. Then he came south to do the same on the highways of Utah. He also made it his goal not only to overcome his stuttering, but to go on tour and speak with the best thinkers in America. After preparing himself he noticed one day that a Positive Thinking Rally was being held in Dallas, Texas. He flew down to attend the rally and when it was over visited with Paul Harvey and his associates. He told them he wanted to be on their circuit. After two hours he finally convinced them.
“We’ll give you thirty minutes,” they said.
Doug responded, “No, I won’t settle for thirty minutes. I want just as much time as Paul Harvey or Don Hutson or Art Linkletter or Zig Zeigler or Ira Hays or any of the others, or I won’t go on.”
Finally, after another two hours, he convinced them that they should give him a full fifty-five minutes. They said “Be in Charlottesville, North Carolina, Wednesday of next week.”
So Doug made his debut in Charlottesville, and the morning following his talk the newspaper headlines read, “Charlottesville, North Carolina Adopts Doug T. Snarr.”
Back in the Salt Palace on the second row, I felt that this was really Doug Snarr’s homecoming. It was the first time that he had spoken in his own area. His friends and family were there, and the spotlight was focused on him. I have never in all my life heard a more dynamic speaker. He stole the show from Paul Harvey, Art Linkletter, Zig Zeigler, Ira Hays, and the others. Now, if any of you are called to serve a mission in Alaska, he will be your mission president in Anchorage—that is where he is today.
When we understand the Lord Jesus Christ, we can understand our potential better than we ever did before. George Romney once gave a talk at the University of Utah commencement; the title of his address was “Give Yourself to Something Great.” Is that not a provocative title? I admonish you to give yourself to something great. Do all that you do according to a standard of excellence. Set your goals, then prepare a plan that will take you from where you are to where you want to be. A caution, however: Do not aspire for positions in the Church. Aspire for excellence so the Lord can use you where he needs you and so that you will be acceptable to him. I presume that his standard for acceptance is high.
I bear witness to you that Jesus Christ lives today. He created this earth. He sets the standards and makes the rules by which we live. He established the true values system; and if we will conform thereto and assist in building his kingdom in his way, we will receive rewards far beyond our fondest hopes and dreams.
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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Royden G. Derrick was a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this devotional address was given at Brigham Young University on 15 May 1979.