The Message:

An Orderly Sequence

by Elder Paul H. Dunn

of the First Council of the Seventy

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    “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” (Matt. 13:45–46.)

    The weather is glorious again here by the Wasatch Range and throughout many areas of the world. Even the thin birds have reappeared. The fat birds are those that remained here during the cold seasons, overate, and became rotund. The thin birds flew hundreds of miles to stay warm, kept in shape, and have returned with wan looks on their feathered faces.

    The point I should like to make is that whether they are birds of passage or frost-bound nonachievers, they are protected by an orderly sequence of events quite apart from what you and I experience with our “free agency,” and they are fed beyond worry, as Jesus tells us, by a loving Heavenly Father to whom we are worth more still than birds. It has been so and shall be, time out of mind. As the lovely hymn so aptly puts it, “I sing because I’m happy; I sing because I’m free, for His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

    Indeed, if you know as I know, and have said to you whenever it has been possible, that the Lord does watch with love over each one of us, then you too can sing because you’re happy, and you can smile because of the power and wonder of the Holy Ghost in your life.

    In spring too, so the poet says, a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love. On campuses everywhere the three R’s tend to become “romance and red roses.”

    One tragedy of love has already occurred this year. A beardless youth became so enamored of a young miss (although she did not encourage him) that each day for 47 consecutive days he wrote her a special delivery letter, until finally, on the 48th day, she eloped with the mailman.

    The lad was probably blessed, since he had nothing to offer the lady except a mission yet unserved, a college education one quarter complete, and no funds. (He had spent all of his money on stamps.)

    Spring is a time for the rebirth of living things from their wintry cover. It typifies and reminds us of the literalness of the resurrection of all living things. Significant to me is the fact that our Lord emerged from the tomb in the springtime!

    Spring also with “her bursting buds, variegated colors and manifestation of teeming life inspires new hope and gives promise of happy days.” (David O. McKay, Treasures of Life, Deseret Book Co., p. 146.) Indeed, this time of nature’s rebirth should give us pause for reflection, assessment, and commitment to life’s higher priorities.

    You recall the words of the Old Testament poet: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under … heaven.” (Eccl. 3:1. Italics added.)

    “A time to every purpose under heaven,” suggesting that there is a proper sequence for all things. Our prophet, President Kimball, has counseled you, young people, particularly young men, as to that proper sequence. Would you note the sequence of events that will bring orderliness and happiness to your life.

    “One can have all the blessings if he is in control and takes the experiences in proper turn: first some limited social get-acquainted contacts, then his mission, then his courting, then his temple marriage and [now note] his schooling and his family, then his life’s work. In any other sequence he could run into difficulty.” (Spencer W. Kimball, “The Marriage Decision,” Ensign, Feb. 1975, p. 4.)

    If you trade the logic of the foregoing sequence for romance, however, you may have sold all that you have for the wrong pearl of great price.

    Phil Pepe, in his excellent volume The Wit and Wisdom of Yogi Berra, notes that in 1972 when the remarkable major league catcher and manager was voted into baseball’s most exclusive club and distinguished company, the Hall of Fame, an honor Berra richly deserved, he addressed a select audience with one of his famous malapropisms. It was, “I thank everybody for making this day necessary.”

    Yogi Berra spoke in much wiser terms than he knew. He had come all the way from the dirt of a St. Louis slum to the pinnacle of his profession, had withstood ridicule about his personal appearance, had found a lovely wife and been named “Father of the Year,” and had earned the admiration of all who knew him well. Indeed, such things did make his day “necessary” rather than merely possible.

    So I feel about you, and I think you know I do. You and I are friends. Wherever you are in this world, young man, wherever in this universal Church you are, young woman, my prayers and those of all who serve with me are with you that you may choose that sequence in life that will lead you on to great achievement, each orderly step of the way.

    Illustrated by Peggy Proctor