Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander

Dedicatory Talk


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Story Highlights

  • How can we build a life for ourselves and for our families without some kind of a plan?
  • The foundation for our lives must be as steadfast as the foundation is for this building.

Listen here:

I’m continually amazed as we come to a building dedication of the close association that the Latter-day Saints have with their buildings. It’s that way everywhere. It was that way when I grew up; it was that way when you grew up. We have a very close association with our buildings. I think that there is a historic basis for that, as we read in the Book of Mormon, at the waters of Mormon, as we read further in that chapter, that eighteenth chapter where the people from Noah and Alma had joined the church and had made a covenant. And then we read that when all of this happened in the waters of Mormon and by the waters of Mormon and in the forest of Mormon–in the area of Mormon–that how sweet and beautiful they were to those who first learned of the redeeming love of Jesus there.

I think that must be the same kind of association we have with our buildings. We bless our babies in them. We send our missionaries away from them; we welcome them home. We have wedding receptions there. We have our funerals there. We say our hellos and good-byes there. Our buildings surround our experience in the church somehow, and the thing that’s interesting to me is how closely we associate in the church the physical, the temporal and the spiritual, and it’s represented by the design of our buildings, it’s represented by what happens in our buildings. It’s represented by how we use the buildings.

Some years ago in 1982, we had come back from Europe and we wanted to build a home, and I’m not a builder by any stretch of the imagination. But I learned some interesting things about building a building–building a home, not the least of which is to never do it again. But I learned some interesting things, just along the line of what I have been talking about here. I learned four things. I learned in order for us to build a home we had to have a good plan for the home. We spent a long time looking for the plan. It had to be a plan to fit the property, it had to be a plan that would fit our needs as a family, a plan for our home that would help us make appropriate decision in the construction of the home. And it helped us work to build a home in a very specified order and arrangement.

The second thing I learned was that we needed a good foundation, that the building could be no better that the foundation upon which it rests. It had to be square, it had to be strong, had to be firm for us to build on it and for it to support the structure that we wanted to put there.

Along the lines of good material, I didn’t realize there were so many good things to buy until we started looking for them. And we realized that within our budget, we could buy some nice things to put in our home. There were many of them, but we learned that the materials that we put in our home had to be good materials. And as we looked at it, we came to the conclusion that we would be better off using good material to build the structural integrity of our home as opposed to putting our money into the more visible things–that we could over time replace the visible things, but we could not replace the structural things. And so, the good materials–the really good materials went into the integrity of the home.

The fourth thing that I learned was that we needed a good builder. We could not have a good home without a good builder, despite the plan or the foundation or the materials that we put in it. We needed to have someone who recognized how to put things together, and would work according to the plan to achieve that which we wished to have as a family.

I thought how much that this temporal kind of a thing of building a home–of building a building like we sit in tonight–reflects and mirrors the way we build our lives. The spiritual and the temporal are so closely related. And the temporal mirrors that which we experience in the spiritual. For example, our life. How can we build a life for ourselves and for our families without some kind of a plan? That plan requires faith that we can put something together that is worthwhile. I have also learned over the years that perhaps, like on a building (we found plenty of flexibility in our plan to build a home), the plan for our lives has to have sufficient flexibility so that we can meet the challenges of life that may change our course, and yet fit the overall plan. The plan has to be one of vision; we have to be able to see where we want to get, where we want to go before we can get there. We have to have a way of recognizing what it is we see when we see it. And without a plan, of course, this is absolutely impossible, and we can just be moved around by every wind that comes our way if we don’t have some stable plan that we have in mind for our lives. Heavenly Father has of course given us his Plan of Salvation. He’s given us knowledge. He’s told us who we are and our relationship to him. All of these form a basis of decisions in our lives. And those decisions shape who we are and how we react to the challenges of our lives.

Well, what about a foundation? The preparation is both spiritual and temporal. The foundation for our lives must be as steadfast as the foundation is for this building. Our foundation is based on obedience and discipline, and the foundation is truly the words of Christ. The Savior said that whosoever comes to him and hear the sayings and doeth them, he would show to whom he is like. He is a like a man who built a house and digged deep and lay the foundation on a rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house and could not shake it. For it was founded upon a rock. And then he compares those who do not listen, but build their foundation upon the sand and how quickly the house falls when the trials and tribulations of life come. We cannot have a life without a foundation, and the foundation of our lives is the words of Christ.

Well, what about the material that we put into our minds and into our lives? This is the material that we need to build our lives upon. The materials we use must be commensurate with the foundation and with the plan that we have. The divine material that we can use and the construction of our lives is prayer, fasting, faith, learning, glory, order, the house of God. These are the divine materials that go into the construction of our lives that reflect the fine construction of the building. And what about the builder? Who is the master builder of our lives? Though we may have ultimate responsibility and accountability of our lives, and according to our lives, what I’ve learned over the years is that if we become so absorbed in the construction–in our own construction, if we are so absorbed in ourselves–then there is no room for the Lord to make of us what he desires. The master builder will build. Along the way we build ourselves, for sure, but in the end we must be willing to have the master builder use the materials we have gathered–that he has made available–to build upon the foundation of the words of Christ according to the plan that brings us happiness and success.

This is a wonderful building. It is a building of learning, but it is also a building of some significant spirituality. We find that in every one of the rooms. This university is a university of learning, but it is also an institution of some significant spiritual stature. There is a plan. There is a foundation. There is good material. There is the master builder. I am grateful for my testimony of this gospel. I am grateful for what I have learned. I am grateful for the close relationship of the temporal and the spiritual in the lives of Latter-day Saints. For this building will be special, as the people of Mormon found out at the waters of Mormon that how beautiful this building is because it the place where they first learn of the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. I bear my testimony to you of these truths in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.