February 20, 2018
Writer: Matthew Christensen
Routine, same-old, practice, the daily grind - all used to describe that inescapable part of life, repetition. For this week's devotional address, Brother Jackie Nygaard chose to address this topic - repetition in various aspects of life, including the gospel of Jesus Christ, and how these repetitions are part of a great puzzle to be solved.
"I like puzzles," Nygaard, the chair of the Mathematics Department at BYU-Idaho said. "To some a puzzle may seem boring and not worth the time, after all, it is pretty repetitive. The beauty of a puzzle is that there is never one sure way to approach the puzzling." When it comes to the necessary repetitions in life and in the gospel of Jesus Christ, Nygaard suggests these repetitions can be like the pieces of a puzzle in the journey of mortal life.
In an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, Nygaard made this point directly, "You go to church over and over again, we hear the same lessons over and over again," he said. "How can that repetition really help us grow? How do we make sure that we are getting that learning out of the repetition as opposed to what we're warned about in the scriptures as vain repetition?"
Nygaard teaches math at BYU-Idaho, and explained he approached his talk from that viewpoint. He also explained the idea of repetition applies to virtually any subject.
"I could talk about this using just about any subject," he said. "In mathematics there is some very deep meaning with repetition, especially when you bring in this idea of iteration."
Concerning iteration, Nygaard explained that in the context of his devotional address, it means to not only repeat a process, but to do so differently and with new perspective each time. In his devotional address, he illustrated this idea with simple vs. compound interest in money. He then suggested one aspect of gospel living which should be more iterative than repetitive: reading and studying the Book of Mormon.
"There is a book we need to study daily, both as individuals and as families, namely the Book of Mormon" (President Ezra Taft Benson, April 1986). Nygaard shared this quote and his personal experience reading the Book of Mormon together with his family every day."I'm confident steady growth was achieved through our repetition, and as our individual and family experiences continually informed our reading, perhaps, at times, it was more iterative delivering accelerated growth."
In closing, Brother Nygaard explained that how we approach repetition matters, and that when failure occurs, we can reiterate our gospel living to move forward in faith and rely on the Savior, Jesus Christ.
You can listen to the whole devotional address below.