Patrick Kearon, in his first address as an apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, encouraged the graduating class of Brigham Young University-Hawaii on Friday to place their “hand into the hand of God” as they embark on the next phase of their lives, explaining that God alone can lead them where they are meant to go.
Kearon, who joined the worldwide church’s second-highest governing body the day before, acknowledged that his message “perfectly fit” the current moment of his own life as he, too, began his own new chapter.
“As I prepared thoughts to share with you, of course, I never imagined that I would be sharing them on the day when I would be named the newest member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,” he said. “It’s staggering to me even just to say that.”
He added, “I slept very little last night, as you can well imagine.”
[Read more about Patrick Kearon’s rise to Latter-day Saint apostle.]
His voice quavering with emotion, the United Kingdom native shared the poem “God Knows,” penned by the British writer Minnie Louise Haskins and popularized by King George VI when he included it in his Christmas Day address in 1939 shortly after the start of World War II: “And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown. And he replied: ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’”
What does it mean to put one’s hand in God’s? According to Kearon, the answer can be found in three biblical examples: the widow Zarephath, who gave what she believed to be her last meal to the Prophet Elijah; Naaman, who followed the Prophet Elisha’s instruction to bathe in the river seven times to cure his leprosy; and Mary, the mother of Jesus.
The new apostle, a Latter-day Saint convert, added to the list studying scripture, “thinking celestial” — as preached by church President Russell M. Nelson in the fall General Conference — and attending the temple as practical means by which his listeners could turn to God for guidance.
“Certainly,” he continued, “putting your hand into the hand of God means a constant quest to draw closer to our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ and feel the joy of their perfect love.”
His voice once again filled with emotion, Kearon — now deemed, under Latter-day Saint theology, a “special witness of Christ” — declared that because of Jesus’ “life and because of his light we can really choose hope and joy in the midst of life’s confusing storms.”