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Ryan Speaks on Becoming More Like Christ
Ryan August 9, 2009
Seminary Graduation, 2004

This is a copy of a talk that Ryan gave at his Seminary Graduation in 2004. 

Given his difficult life, it is no wonder that he focused on a scripture that is so often overlooked. 



I was asked to speak here tonight just a couple of days ago.  The topic assigned to me was, "How Seminary Helps You Come Closer to Christ." 


I don't think that there could be a more relevant topic that I could speak about tonight.  Seminary certainly has brought me closer to Christ, and I honestly have no idea where I would be today without seminary.  I cringe to thnk about the person I was in 8th grade.  I didn't want to come to seminary at first.  I mean, how could the church possibly be true at 5:30 in the morning?


It's 4 years later now, and I have been going to seminary ever since.  I read the Book of Mormon all the way through for the first time in my sophomore year, and I've been trying to take it into my heart and become more like my Savior.  It's sometimes easy to read the Book of Mormon or the Bible and learn only information, but that is not what Seminary is about.  


James E Faust told the following story:


A group of religion instructers [were] taking a summer course on the life of the Savior and focusing particularly on the parables. 


When the final exam time came, ...the students arrived at the classroom to find a note that the exam would be given in another building across campus.  Moreover, the note said, it must be finished within the two-hour time period that was starting almost at that moment.


The students hurried across campus.  On the way, they passed a little girl crying over a flat tire on her new bike.  An old man hobbled painfully toward the library with a cane in one hand, spilling books from a stack he was trying to manage with the other.  On a bench by the union building sat a shabbily dressed, bearded man [in obvious distress].


Rushing into the other classroom, the students were met by the professor. 


"You all failed," said the professor.


"We couldnt' have failed, we are all here to take the test.  We had to run all the way from the other side of the campus -- how could we have failed?"


"You failed to love your neighbor as yourself; you failed to identify yourself with God's children.  You did not enter into the fold of the Good Shepherd.  You fail."


The only true test of whether they understood the Savior's life and teaching, he told them, was how they treated people in need.


Their weeks of study at the feet of a capable professor had taught them a great deal about what Christ had said and done.  In their haste to finish the technicalities of the course, however, they failed to recognize the application represented by the three scenes that had been deliberately staged.  They learned the letter but not the Spirit.  Their neglect of the little girl and the two men showed that the profound message of the course had not entered into their hearts. 


I'd like to think that I've learned something more significant than merely information about the scriptures the past four years.  I believe that I have.  Sometimes, especially this year as we have been studying the Old Testament, we forget what it's all about.  We don't go to seminary merely to learn about biblical history.  We go there to feel the Spirit, and the Spirit testifies of Christ. 


Seminary has helped shape me into the person that I am today, and I am grateful for that, because as imperfect and flawed as I am, learning about Christ makes me want to be more like Him.  One of my favorite stories from the Book of Mormon is the story of Helaman and his Stripling warriers, a story that I'm sure you are all familiar with. 


As the story is told, some 2000 Nephite sons accepted the call to go to war against the Lamanites in defence of their freedoms and their families. They were young and inexperienced, but carried the faith their mothers had taught them.  After a fierce battle, the Lamanites surrendered.


In Alma 56:55-56, Helaman gives this account:


"And now it came to pass that when they had surrendered themselves up unto us, behold I numbered those young men who had fought with me, fearing lest there were many of them slain.

But behold, to my great joy there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war."



I'm sure that you have heard this story many times.  But there is generally one part o this story that is left out:


"And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonimshment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds."  Alma 57:25

While it is important to remember how the diligence of those young men preserved their lives, it is just as important to remember that not one of them completed the battle unscathed. 


I am grateful for the Seminary program, for all of my Seminary teachers and the friends I have made through Seminary.  I'm grateful for the church and testify that it is true.  I love my Savior.  It is important to me to continue to try to become more like Him. 


As spokesman for the graduating senior class, I testify that we will keep the faith.  Though we will suffer many wounds and afflictions in this life, and some of us may even faint from loss of blood, we will not surrender.  We will be as the Army of Helaman and we will stay steadfast to the end." 

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