I have three fascinations. 1) Dr. Pepper jelly beans. It is just a glorious blend of two things I love that results in my happiness. 2) Board games. Something about sitting down and playing a good old-fashioned board game is just so much fun. It might also be because board games are the only thing I’m good at, but that’s a whole other topic. 3) Words. Which is really odd. But I just love how they sound, how they make you feel. I love that you can rearrange them to have profound meanings. I love that we can use them to communicate thoughts and feelings and emotions. Words are filled with power, especially when they are put in the right order. And one of my ultimate goals is to be able to arrange these useful, overlooked tools so that there is no doubt as to what I believe or what I’m trying to say, and that people will be inspired by my words.
I think that’s what the Lord does, too. I take after my Father in Heaven in that way, I hope. He has given us His words, and they are available to us right now. You can use the devices that have been created so that we can read His words. Some of you have the precious pages where those words are contained. They truly are His words. And isn’t that amazing to know? That Heavenly Father speaks to us and we can hear His voice when we open a page or an app.
Doctrine and Covenants 115:5. Keep in mind that these are the Lord’s words to us that we are reading. "Verily, I say unto you all, arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations." That’s only 20 words, but it’s full of so much meaning. So I, being that person who likes to know things and that person who loves words, went to town on this one verse.
The first word: "verily." I think this word is super cool, and I hope you never read it the same way again. To me, verily is the Lord’s way of saying “Listen up. I’m about to say something that is really important. And you should value it because it’s going to end up either leading you to your salvation or your eternal destruction.” Have you ever thought of the word verily like that before?
Second: “I say unto you all.” I like this phrase. A lot. Heavenly Father is giving you His advice. He could’ve just said “Verily I say to all of you.” To me, that makes it more of a generalization of His children. Like when a teacher says “all of you were terrible for the sub yesterday,” even when there were kids being totally normal and totally respectful. And yes, I’m biased because I was always one of those kids in the class lumped in with the people who were doing wrong. But Heavenly Father doesn’t generalize or lump His children into one big group. He makes His advice more personal to you and to me just by saying “to you all.” “You all” is like a reminder that your Heavenly Father knows you personally and loves you just as much as the person sitting next to you, and that one awkward kid in your class, and that rude guy over that no one likes.
Next: “Arise and shine forth.” Think about when your alarm goes off in the morning. I know…it’s the best time of the day (ha!). That annoying ringtone goes off, or the radio starts blaring and it just interrupts your glorious dream and beauty sleep. So what do you do? You get up out of your bed and shut the stupid thing off. You arise. Arise means that you’re getting up; you’re actually doing something. And after that, you shine forth. That’s sharing the gospel and being a friend and smiling at people you don’t know as you walk to class. Shining is good. But shining forth is even better. It’s taking that one extra step. Shining forth is making sure that every single person you meet knows exactly what you stand for and what you believe in.
Which kind of runs into what the last part of the verse means: “that thy light may be a standard for the nations.” Pause for a second and look at the last word, nationZ. Hold up a second…that’s plural. But America is just one nation. That means that your light and my light are capable of being shared in Russia and Australia and Hong Kong and Italy and Finland and everywhere else in the world. Have you ever thought of that? That your shining light can be a standard, or an example to nations? NATIONS. But how can that be so, you say? It’s exactly what Elder L. Tom Perry discussed in the broadcast that we watched last week. The Internet can be a missionary’s greatest asset to spreading the gospel. And guess what! You and I have been asked to be member missionaries, so that call was given to you and me, to utilize the Internet to speed up the Lord’s glorious work. You and I, on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram, can let our lights shine forth. How? Have a Temple Tuesday to accompany Throwback Thursdays on Instagram. Put up a picture of a beautiful temple and see what questions your friends may have. Share your testimony as a Facebook status, or post something about how awesome your family home evening activity was. Tweet a favorite quote from General Conference or your thoughts about the treats from Sunday School or Relief Society. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you DO something. You have to arise. President Uchtdorf has said “There is a way for everyone…to participate in this great work. We can each find a way to use our own particular talents and interests in support of the great work of filling the world with light and truth.” What you share doesn’t have to be something grandiose or profound. Something as simple as “don’t worry, be happy” or a clean funny picture to make someone crack a smile can make all the difference.
So. As of now, the beloved scripture of Doctrine and Covenants 115:5 means, “Listen up, the Lord has something important to say to YOU: Get up and do something that spreads His work and His glory, so that you can be an example of Him to every person you meet.”
One last thing that I need to share. I once lived in a little town in Bowling Green, Kentucky. It was a quaint little place, with one really weird thing to do, called Kentucky Down Under. It’s a place that was trying to bring Australia to Kentucky. They had kangaroos and didgeridoos and koalas and native things to Australia, all lumped into one location. They also had these caves that you could take a tour of. So my grandparents came to town one time and we decided to take them to this “fun” and “exciting” place. We took a tour of the caves, and part of the tour was to turn out all of the lights so that you could experience what the explorers did when they first discovered the caves. Now keep in mind, I was only like 7, so the dark was still a scary thing. The lights went down and it was impossible to see your own hand when it was pressed up against your nose. But my grandpa was standing next to me, and being the jokester that he is, he wanted to ruin the trick. So he nudged me and said hey watch this, and he clicked a little button on his watch and it glowed. It was a small watch, but to me, a 7 year old afraid of the dark, it made all the difference.
I don’t care how small you think or feel that your light is. I am here to testify to you that even the smallest lights make a difference to somebody, just like my grandpa’s watch did in that dark cave. YOU can make a difference. I’m extending the challenge to you right now, and to myself as well, to do what it takes to let our lights shine. Have a Temple Tuesday. Post something that you believe in. Tweet something inspirational. Whatever it is you choose to do, know that you’re Heavenly Father is proud of you for heeding His words, for hearing His words and acting on those things that He is asking you to do. Know that He loves you more than we will ever be able to understand in this life, and that He is doing everything He can to help you succeed. Know that you are His son, that you are His daughter, and that He is with you every step of the way, cheering you on as you arise and let your light shine unto the nations.