It was during Elder Dale G. Renlund’s first year as a student at Johns Hopkins Hospital when he had an idea. He worked constantly and on Sundays, which meant he was only able to attend church half of the time. If he hurried with work that Sunday, he could go to church. But, if he was slower, his wife and daughter would have already left with the family’s single car, and he could take a nap.
But once he got on the couch, he couldn’t sleep.
“I had always loved going to church,” Dale G. Renlund said to a group of Brigham Young University students Tuesday morning. “I had always felt a burning testimony of Christ’s living reality. But on that day, the intensity wasn’t there.”
Dale G. Renlund, a member of the Quorum of the Twelves Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gave a dual devotional Tuesday at BYU with his wife, Ruth L. Renlund, a former attorney.
In Dale G. Renlund’s address, “Experience God’s Love,” he said that just like with receptors in the body, students’ receptors can become dull to God’s love. The problem, he said, isn’t a lack of love from God and Jesus Christ.
“The problem is with your receptors for Their love,” he said. “If you have dysfunction of your receptors for God’s love, you can lose your way and succumb to dangers, such as hopelessness, helplessness and loneliness.”
Without being able to sense God’s love and concern, he said people lose power, stability and direction. The loss happens over time, like what happened to him. In medical school, he’d wake up, say a prayer and then go to work. But then that stopped.
“I had allowed my receptors for God’s love to become dull, so that the things of the Spirit were less urgent and less important,” he said.
That one Sunday, he got off the couch, knelt and prayed for help. Dale G. Renlund said he created a plan to change and began bringing a Book of Mormon to the hospital, devoted himself to not missing a chance to take the sacrament and added praying to his daily to do list.
The inability to feel God and Christ’s love can also be because of physical and mental illness, he said. He urged those with clinical anxiety and depression to pursue professional help, citing a Book of Mormon story where Moroni asked if God would help if they didn’t use what was already provided to them.
“Prayers in this situation may seem somewhat insincere to God as they are manifestations of faith without works,” he said.
He urged the crowd to read the Book of Mormon, repent and take the sacrament.
Dale G. Renlund preceded his wife’s address, “The Power to Change.” In it, Ruth L. Renlund asked students to consider their spiritual superpowers.
“You can have a superpower greater than any fictional power ever conceived,” she said. “You can have God’s power in your life, the ultimate, very real superpower.”
That power, she said, comes from priesthood covenants and taking on Christ’s attributes.
“God’s power, the power of godliness is the power to change,” she said. “With God’s help, we can change from women and men driven by carnal desires and selfish concerns to holy women and holy men, prepared to enter the kingdom of God.”