Steven’s Farewell Address

Preface, written by Marsi

Elder Walker gave this address in Church on Sunday, January 16, 2011. He began with his experience of how he received his mission call and the feeling he received that his call to Argentina was from the Lord. He went into the mountains in Provo canyon and found a quiet, peaceful place to pray and open his much-anticipated mission call. He expressed how he knew then and there that the next two years of his life would be in the Lord’s service, with the people of Argentina. He then went back to his apartment and “Skyped” us all and together listened as he read the beautiful letter, signed by the prophet. At the end of this address, he added his testimony that the Church is true, and he loved us all! Enjoy his words…

My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord.

Good afternoon brothers and sisters. It is indeed my genuine pleasure to stand

before you this afternoon. I’ve been a part of this ward almost all my life and have

known many of you nearly the entire time. I thank you for guiding me in the right

direction, as it is by your examples and your faith that I stand before you today.

The topic I have been given to speak on today is something I found quite exciting

when I received it. I was given the scripture Luke 1 as a reference and told that

my topic was “My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord”. Prior to hearing this phrase, I’d

always thought about living my life in accordance with the ways of the gospel so

that I might prove to the world that I really am who I say I am, that being a Latterday

Saint is more than just a title I am given as a member of this church. I don’t

just talk the talk, I walk the walk too. I earnestly try to be straightforward and

honest in all I say, striving to mislead no one as to what my intentions or eternal

goals are. I stumble over words every now and again, but ultimately it’s the fact

that I really try to be who I say I am that matters. Before I had read that passage of

scripture in Luke 1, I never really realized that in my effort to live a life worthy of

allowing me to return to live with my heavenly father, I was magnifying him here

on earth.

While preparing, I took the phrase “My soul doth magnify the Lord” and

highlighted the two words that stuck out to me most. I’m sure there’s a

grammatical name for them, but I call them the power words. The two words I

picked are first, soul, and second, magnify.

Starting with soul, I began to search for varying meanings of the word. In the

topical guide, next to soul it says, see also, breath of life. Among many other

definitions, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a soul as a person’s total

self. It isn’t limited to just the immaterial substance that we believe gives us life,

that’s our spirit. A soul is a person’s total and complete self. Satisfied with that

definition, I moved on to magnify. Now I’m sure we’ve all heard some version

of the call for us to magnify our callings. But what does it mean to magnify?

Some people just associate this word with the definition we commonly use –

make it bigger, better, clearer, etc. I’ve taken a number of intense and thoroughly

enlightening religion courses at school and in one lesson we discussed what it

meant, but unfortunately my memory already escapes me and in this particular

instance, I can’t remember very much from the lesson at all, but I do remember

that my professor told us that there was more to the scriptural definition of the

word that just to make something bigger and better. He invited us to look up the

word in the topical guide and follow it from there. Using that tidbit of wisdom,

I did as my professor suggested and found that in the topical guide, the word

Magnify is followed by a list of other words. It says Magnify: see also, Exalt,

glorify, Priesthood, magnifying of callings within. I want to focus on the first two

– exalt and glorify. When we exalt or glorify someone, we give them praise and

honor.

Now let’s go back to the original phrase: My soul doth magnify the Lord.

Substitute our definitions for the words soul and magnify, and we get the

elaborated phrase: “My total and complete self doth exalt and glorify the Lord.”

Brothers and sisters, isn’t this what we want to do? Don’t we want to live our

lives in such a way that we ooze love and adoration for our Lord and Savior Jesus

Christ?

I know I don’t speak all that often here because I’ve been away at school for the

past, almost two years, and I know that every time I’ve been up at this pulpit since

I was accepted to BYU I’ve mentioned it, so please forgive me as I talk about it

one more time. This will be the last time for at least two years, I promise.

I ventured away from the safety and familiarity of my home to a new area less

than two weeks after graduating from high school. I moved into my dorm June

18th and spent my first night in a bed that was too small, in a room made of

simple cinderblock, alone. My roommate had all his stuff moved in, but I didn’t

meet him until three days later. I fell to sleep analyzing the reality of the new

situation I found myself in. I wasn’t close to my parents, they were a good 800 or

so miles away, I was now totally and completely in charge of my life. I had the

responsibility of feeding and clothing myself, as well as working and earning all

the money necessary to provide for all my needs.

In many respects, I’m sure many of you have experienced feelings similar to mine

at some point or another. Maybe not exactly lonely, but disconnected, isolated, or

detached, perhaps. It’s part of life and it will hit you at some point or another. It is

in these moments, among many others, I find myself turning to the savior.

The savior was the firstborn of us all. This is common knowledge among members

of the church. He was worthy, willing and capable of executing the father’s plan

flawlessly, and for this reason he volunteered himself to come down to earth.

Willingly, he offered to leave behind all that he was comfortable with to come

down and satisfy the demands of justice.

One of the biggest pressures I personally feel is the responsibility I have to my

family to set an example for them. I’m the oldest child in my family as well as the

oldest grandchild on both sides. Between both sides of my family, I have some 40

or so young children of God looking to me to clear the path for them. In my desire

to find solace, I try to turn to the Lord. When I do, I’ve come to realize that Christ

experienced a similar dilemma.

There was no one before Christ to set the path and lay out guidelines for him to

direct him in the right direction. Of his own volition and by sheer will, Christ

overcame all temptation and trials that he was faced with. I can’t imagine the

weight of the burden he had to constantly bear. When we think of Christ suffering

for us, often our thoughts immediately turn to his suffering in the garden of

Gethsemane. I invite you all to think beyond that. He did not live a carefree life

of teaching and working miracles. I think it’s reasonable to infer, based off the

fact that he, too, was human as we are, that he worried about the responsibility he

had to the world, knowing that our salvation rested on his shoulders alone and any

minor slip up could jeopardize that.

Not only did Christ teach us many principles and lessons through his words, but

if we look to his life, his actions and experiences are similar in many respects to

ours.

I don’t say this to belittle the magnitude of the atonement, but rather to emphasize

to you that no matter what circumstance you find yourself in, no matter the

pressures you face or the burdens you are set to bear, no matter how alone you

feel or what stage in life you have come to, when you feel like there is no one you

know that could possibly relate to you, I testify to you all that the Savior can.

With all the hardships the Savior endured for us, I believe it is our obligation to go

through life day after day trying to be more like him, trying to show him we care

for him, and trying to bring others to him.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the words of D&C 122 before, but I’d like to read a few

verses from it to you. Bear with me.

“If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false

brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea;

“And if thou should be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and

the sentence of death be passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the

billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the

heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and

above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know

thou my son, that these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

“The Son of Man hath descended below them all.”

Living in today’s world with the standards we have is no easy task. However, there

is not a problem in this world that we can be faced with that the savior cannot help

us through. I implore you all to always remember that he is there for you. Nothing

will change that if you remain worthy to receive him.

We are members of the one true church. Our generation has been blessed to come

forth at this time so that we might bring others to the gospel and do the work for

those that have already passed on.

As a united species, we’re quite judgmental and shallow. It’s kind of a bummer,

but it’s how we perceive the world. We often make assumptions before we meet

people and then, when we do finally meet them, if we do, see if they live up to

those expectations. I like to think of the little things that differentiate us from the

world. All too often I think we focus so much on the “big” things that signal to

people that we’re Mormons like he doesn’t drink coffee, she won’t let her kids

play sports on Sundays, there’s a picture of Jesus in every room of their house, and

so on, that we lose track of the little things that people notice. I’ve heard so many

stories about people who knew there was something different about their friend,

but didn’t know what it was. Personally, I’ve noticed a general positive aura or

vibe or energy, whatever you want to call it, coming from members. When we are

true to the faith and hold fast to the teachings of the gospel, our souls shine and we

magnify the Lord.

I’m a fairly reserved person. I have no problem meeting new people, but I am by

no means outgoing. I prefer to think and plan for things of the future – my life,

my career, my family, my mission, things of that nature. I write down all these

thoughts as they come to me on whatever available piece of paper I can find. Some

things are just simple goals and reminders, others are things I’d like to improve of

myself in an effort to magnify the Lord by being more Christ-like. Here are some

of the things I’ve written:

• Do not dwell on my shortcomings – overcome the fear of such shortcomings and

know that with faith, I can overcome any that I am faced with

• Be grateful for all that I am given. Never complain, love always, and endure

through all to the end

• Have the courage to fail big and stick around. Make them wonder why I’m still

smiling

• Everyone is less mysterious than they think they are

• It is better to prepare myself for the future than to look forward to the future and

hope to be prepared

• Set goals and accomplish them! Goals are meaningless if there is no progress

made

• Love more. My life is hardly significant if I am doing nothing to show I care.

Going through life passively is selfish. Help, serve, and show sincere affection for

all in my life. Let them know I care. Make an impact. Don’t expect anything in

return. Their happiness should be enough of a reward.

• When I feel at my lowest, when I feel like no one else can, or ever could, possibly

relate to me, know that Christ can

I’d like to invite you to set similar goals, strive to make similar improvements in

your lives that you might magnify, glorify, and exalt the Lord with your whole

being. I hope and I pray that I was not the cause of too much pain for the savior as

he bled for me in Gethsemane. I cringe at the thought that I may have caused him

to bleed even one drop of blood at my expense. If he was willing to suffer for me,

willing to be my perfect example, my best friend when I feel I have no other, a big

brother I can turn to when I feel that I have nowhere else to go, I should be willing

to do all that I can to do the same, to whatever minor degree, for others. Mosiah

2:17 says, “And behold, I tell ye these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye

may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the

service of your God.” What better way to glorify the savior than to serve both him

and those he cared enough for to suffer unimaginable pain. He did not live solely

to provide us with peace of mind when we are down. He set an example for how

we should live our lives. I testify that if we live our lives in accordance with the

example set by the savior, our complete beings will exalt him, we will be blessed

and we will notice a positive change in our lives.

We are all encouraged, as believers in Christ, to develop a strong, deeply personal

relationship to him. While I love him dearly and try to thank him multiple times

daily for his sacrifice for me, I know thanking him is but a small fraction of ways

for me to show my gratitude.

Our modern world is one of great turmoil, sorrow and despair. We live in a time

where we witness great disasters and loss of life. All around us, we see that

there are people searching for something that can bring solace to their souls. As

members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are blessed with

knowledge that grants us peace in these uncertain times. How selfish would we

be if we refrained from sharing our joy with others? In the past decade, we’ve

witnessed tsunamis that obliterated the islands of Indonesia, Hurricane Katrina

devastated the gulf, as well as the BP oil spill, and Earthquakes have tormented

countries around the world. We as saints must stand tall, heads held high being

beacons of light and strength for all to see so that they might recognize our peace

and come to us with their questions.

When we obey the Lord, we glorify him. There is a sincere feeling of sweetness

and joy when you do what you know is right. It is finally my turn to serve the Lord

and his people full time and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m sure many of you have

friends or acquaintances who would be genuinely interested in learning more about

the church from an actual member and not the media’s portrayal of who we are. I

invite you all to put on your missionary gamefaces and do some work. The elders

love referrals.

One Response to Steven’s Farewell Address

  1. Janelle says:

    Nice talk, Elder Walker. Thanks for sharing. Great kernels of truth in there. Neat that you have so much stuff already figured out. Keep up the great work.

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