Many times, as General Authorities address the priesthood brethren at general conference, they will begin by saying that they feel as though they are addressing a “mighty army” of powerful priesthood leaders. Tonight, I feel as though I am standing before a “mighty army” of elect daughters of God. You have been chosen to move forward, standing alongside those valiant priesthood holders, in righteousness in these latter days. You are a commanding and beautiful sight.
In the first chapter of the book of Joshua, the Lord tells him several times to “be strong and of a good courage.” The word courage is defined as “mental or moral strength to . . . persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. , “courage”; emphasis added). Through their courage and obedience, Joshua and the children of Israel were able to enter the land of promise and find happiness in the blessings of the Lord.
often patience is required when we are “wait[ing] upon the Lord” (Isaiah 40:31). As we wait, we may begin to believe that we have been forsaken or that our prayers were not heard or that possibly we are not worthy to have them answered. This is not true. I love King David’s comforting words: “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry” (Psalm 40:1).
A month ago I visited a group of young women. I asked the older girls what advice they would give a new Beehive to help her to remain faithful and virtuous in every setting that she may encounter. One young woman said, “When you walk down the halls of your school, you might, out of the corner of your eye, see something that catches your attention, something that doesn’t seem quite right. You may be curious and want to look. My advice to you is this: Don’t look. I promise you’ll regret it if you do. Believe me; just look straight ahead.”
As I listened to this young woman, I knew I was hearing the Lord’s advice to Joshua, “Turn not from it to the right hand or to the left” (Joshua 1:7), applied to an everyday setting in these latter days. Young women, avoid the temptations that surround you by strictly following the commandments. Look straight ahead at your eternal goal.
[In Joshua 1:8], the Lord refers to a “book of the law” and tells Joshua to “meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: . . . and then thou shalt have good success.” The Lord is instructing Joshua and all of us to read the scriptures. Daily scripture study—especially reading the Book of Mormon—establishes a firm foundation for your developing testimony of Jesus Christ and His gospel. It invites the Spirit into your life. President Harold B. Lee counseled, “If we’re not reading the scriptures daily, our testimonies are growing thinner [and] our spirituality isn’t increasing in depth” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee , 66).
At the moment, these four guides—prayer, obedience to God’s commandments, daily scripture study, and a commitment to follow the living prophet—may seem like small and simple things. Let me remind you of the scripture found in Alma: “Behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6). When applied in our everyday lives, these four “small and simple” guides from the book of Joshua will combine to provide the most powerful source of courage and strength there is: faith in our Heavenly Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Heavenly Father knows our individual journeys are not easy. We are faced every day with situations that require courage and strength.
I want to leave you with my testimony that Heavenly Father knows and loves each of you. If you turn to Him, He will not fail you! He will bless you with the strength and the courage you will need to complete your journey back to Him. I am grateful for the scriptures and for powerful examples like the prophet Joshua. I am grateful for President Monson, who strives to lead us safely back to our Heavenly Father. I pray that, like the children of Israel, we will all enter our “land of promise” and find rest in the blessings of the Lord. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.