new normal

Do What Matters Most

As 2020 comes to an end, I think we will all shout a collective “hallelujah!” Perhaps more than any other time, we anxiously await a new year, sincerely wanting our lives to be better. While it is customary around this time of year to take an inventory of our lives, asking ourselves questions like “What have I learned? What do I want to improve? What do I want to add? What do I want to eliminate?”, our answers will probably be quite different from previous years.

Hopefully one thing 2020 has given us is a clearer perspective. I have thought often over these last several months about something David A. Bednar shared in general conference five years ago. He had gone to visit Robert D. Hales who had been seriously ill. Elder Bednar asked what lessons he had learned as he had gotten older and experienced severe health challenges. Elder Hales said, “When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most.”1 Elder Bednar went on to say, “Physical restrictions can expand vision. … Inability to do many things can direct focus to a few things of greatest importance.”1 Oh, how well that applies to this year!

A few months into the pandemic, we started hearing that life would not be returning to normal any time soon and that we needed to accept a “new normal.” I really disliked those words! I didn’t want a new normal! I wanted my life just like it was before. My heart softened to that phase when it was uttered by our dear prophet. I was given a clearer perspective. He said, “Today we often hear about ’a new normal.’ If you really want to embrace a new normal, I invite you to turn your heart, mind, and soul increasingly to our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Let that be your new normal.”2

An invitation from the prophet is profoundly personal. President Nelson’s words were exactly what I needed to hear. No matter what other limitations and restrictions were placed upon me, my access to heaven was unrestricted. Whatever else is going on or not going on around me, what is going on inside of me is of most importance. The word increasingly reminds me of the constant and consistent effort that is required. I can and must be moving closer to my Heavenly Father and the Savior—every day.  A beautiful thing happens when we turn to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ—we feel more love for our family and friends and desire to serve and bless those around us.

With clearer perspective, a new year begins. Some things that once seemed so important have now found their proper place in my life. Other things have taken on added and more profound meaning. I have come to more fully appreciate Elder Bednar’s words, “Inability to do many things can direct focus to a few things of greatest importance.”1 What are the things of greatest importance in our lives? What will our focus be in 2021? What really are those things that matter most? More than once President Nelson has reminded us to keep our focus on the Savior, the most recent being just a few weeks ago when he told us, “There is nothing more important we can do … than to rivet our focus on the Savior.”3

I can’t imagine a better New Year’s resolution than that!

References:

1.  Chosen to Bear Testimony of My Name – David A. Bednar

2.  A New Normal – Russell M. Nelson

3.  Divine Gifts – Russell M. Nelson

love what He loves

Love What He Loves

No matter who the Savior was speaking to, His invitation was the same: “Come, follow me.” When we choose to follow Him, we not only choose to do what He would do, but we choose to, as Ronald A. Rasband taught, “love what He loves: humility, meekness, steadfastness, charity, courage, compassion, forgiveness, and obedience.”1 I think that is profound! Can I honestly say I love humility? Or meekness? Or courage? Or obedience? But that is exactly what I must do if I am truly following the Savior.

With Christmas just two weeks away, a perfect way to help us follow the Savior would be to study His attributes. I invite you to make a list of the attributes of Christ and then choose one attribute each day to focus on. Find ways to implement it into your life. Look for that attribute in others. Record what you learn each day. At the end of the two weeks, see if you have learned to love what He loves even more. What better gift can we give the Savior than to truly follow Him by being like Him.

May we daily strive to follow the Savior and emulate His divine character. As we do, we will “yearn to be more meek, more pure, more steadfast, more Christlike.”2 Those yearnings will take us to our knees because we can never become who we are to become without heaven’s help. I love this reminder from Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Christlike attributes are gifts from God. They cannot be developed without His help.”3

References:

1.  Recommend to the Lord – Ronald A. Rasband

2.  Consider the Goodness and Greatness of God – Dale G. Renlund

3.  Christlike Attributes–the Wind Beneath our WingsDieter F. Uchtdorf

Blessed by Gratitude

What an incredible month this has been! When I decided to turn November into 30 days of gratitude, I could scarcely have imagined the sweet stirrings I would feel. And what enhanced those feelings even more was when President Russell M. Nelson invited us all to flood the earth with expressions of gratitude on our social media for 7 days. I had been posting inspiring quotes and writing in my gratitude journal every day for nearly three weeks, but this challenge from our prophet changed me and deepened my feelings of gratitude in unimaginable ways. I felt greater happiness, stronger love, and increased peace. This is not surprising though because President Nelson knew that is how we would all feel. We are always blessed when we follow the prophet!

Another prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, once said, “Walk with gratitude before Him who is the giver of life and every good gift.”1 I hope November was just the beginning for each of us and not the end. Our lives will truly be richer if every day we walk with gratitude in our hearts for a loving Heavenly Father and for every good gift He gives us.

As we now turn to the Christmas season, I hope our hearts are overflowing with gratitude for God’s greatest gift to us—the gift of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.

Earlier this year, Elder Dale G. Renlund taught, “Each of us has received gifts that we could not provide for ourselves, gifts from our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, including redemption through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We have received life in this world; we will receive physical life in the hereafter, and eternal salvation and exaltation—if we choose it—all because of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Every time we use, benefit from, or even think of these gifts, we ought to consider the sacrifice, generosity, and compassion of the givers. Reverence for the givers does more than just make us grateful. Reflecting on Their gifts can and should transform us.”2

President Nelson’s 7-day challenge indeed was transformative. Elder Renlund also gave us an invitation, though his seems to be more of a lifelong challenge.  He said, “I invite you to remember each day the greatness of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and what They have done for you. Let your consideration of Their goodness more firmly bind your wandering heart to Them. Ponder Their compassion, and you will be blessed with added spiritual sensitivity and become more Christlike.”2

I gladly accept this challenge and hope you will too! And as we remember Their goodness and Their compassion, may we express our gratitude to Them by offering that same kind of love and compassion to others. Imagine how wonderful this Christmas season will be if we all will do that!

References:

1.  With all Thy Getting Get Understanding – Gordon B. Hinckley

2.  Consider the Goodness and Greatness of God – Dale G. Renlund

Count It All Joy

Count it all joy – what a great scriptural reminder we find in James 1:2! President Russell M. Nelson has taught that joy is “a principle that will only become more important as the tragedies and travesties around us increase.”1 Does that sound a little like this year? Interestingly, the entire scripture reads, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.”2 In the Joseph Smith Translation, the last few words are “when ye fall into many afflictions.”3 Many afflictions? Absolutely! What about different temptations? I’m sure there have been at least a few times this year when we’ve been tempted to complain, to get upset, to give up, to be unkind. And yet, we are to count it all joy.

President Nelson reminded us that “joy … as little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives. When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation … and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives.”1

When everything started shutting down, I found myself focusing on what I couldn’t do. I could no longer go to the temple or to church, go on vacation or out to dinner. I was allowing restrictions—circumstances—to blur my focus. Places, as wonderful as they may be, are not the source of my joy.

Luckily it didn’t take me too long to get my focus where it belonged. Never before have I  felt such a longing to be in the temple, been more anxious to hear from the prophet, so excited for general conference, and more eager to go to church. The sacrament has become more sacred, the temple more cherished, family more valued, and the living prophet more important.

Through this year of tragedies and travesties, temptations and afflictions, I am more profoundly grateful for my family, my faith, and my friends. Yes, I can count it all joy.

References:

1.  Joy and Spiritual Survival – Russell M. Nelson

2.  James 1:2

3.  James 1:2 – Joseph Smith Translation

I Can & I Will!

I absolutely loved general conference! It did my soul good! In President Russell M. Nelson’s opening message, he said, “Unusual times can bring unusual rewards.”1 And in his closing message he said, “Despite the world’s commotion, the Lord would have us look forward to the future ‘with joyful anticipation.’”2 I love the optimism in these statements. We can all agree that we have been living in unusual times. Have we taken the opportunity to consider the unusual rewards that have come to us? And are we looking with joyful anticipation to what lies ahead?

The words “can bring” really resonated with me. You will notice President Nelson didn’t say, “Unusual times do bring unusual rewards.” The “can” reminds me that both my actions and my reactions matter. I can choose to act or react in ways that will make life rewarding despite the commotion of the world. I can choose how I respond to the challenges that I am given. I can keep going, even when it’s hard. I can trust in good things to come. And always, I can trust in Heavenly Father and His promises.

Optimism coupled with faithfulness, obedience, perseverance, and patience will bring unusual rewards.

To me, one of the greatest blessings, especially during these unusual and chaotic times, is having a living prophet of God! I can choose to follow the prophet.

I can choose to follow Jesus Christ.

I can embrace the future with faith.

I can choose to let God prevail in my life.

I can keep an eternal perspective.

President Nelson encouraged us to do many more things during conference this past weekend. Those were just a few! May we take some time to carefully read through each of his talks, taking note of the things he is asking us to do and highlighting the promises for doing them. I am always amazed at the prophetic promises!  

Yes, these are unusual times we are living in. But unusual rewards, even miracles, have been promised. There is so much to be grateful for! I can and I will look forward to the future with joyful anticipation!

References:

1.  Moving Forward – Russell M. Nelson

2.  A New Normal – Russell M. Nelson

Always Remember Him

After all these years, I finally convinced my husband to take me back to see his mission. Since he served in the United States, it probably shouldn’t have taken us so long. But it was definitely worth the wait! Although we weren’t there long enough to see everyone and everything, it was fun to see several of the places where he lived and served. We were able to share all our time with a couple he had the privilege of teaching and seeing join the Church. On Sunday, we had church at one of their sons’ homes. Their youngest daughter and her family also joined us, so there were fifteen of us there for church. That was the most people I have been able to attend church with for almost six months! It was such a special experience. My husband was asked to help with the sacrament. As he knelt down to offer the prayer on the bread, I was overcome with emotion. I was sharing this sacred ordinance with some of the people Dave had taught the gospel to almost forty years ago! I remember feeling something very similar several years ago when we were at Martin’s Cove and my husband and son were asked to help bless the sacrament. On that special occasion, I could not hold back the tears of gratitude and love. Just like my thoughts then, on this special Sunday I thought of the sacrifices that had been made so many years earlier that made it possible for me to be having such a sweet experience now. Dave had sacrificed to serve a mission. Ron and Susie had made incredible sacrifices to join the Church. They and their children have continued to make sacrifices to serve in the Church. Their three sons all served missions. All five of their children married in the temple. They have all remained strong and faithful.

As I have thought about these two occasions and the profoundly spiritual experiences they were, I realized that I should be having that kind of an experience every time I have the privilege of taking the sacrament. The sacrament is symbolic of the ultimate sacrifice made by our Savior Jesus Christ. Because of His sacrifice, it is possible for me to enjoy blessings beyond my comprehension!

President Russell M. Nelson reminded us, “Partaking of the sacrament is a sacred and sanctifying privilege.”1 He said this just a few months ago, during the time when we are only able to partake of the sacrament in our homes. That seems significant to me. We don’t always have to be in a chapel. Sometimes out of necessity church is at home or in a barn in the mountains. It is the ordinance not the place that makes the sacrament sacred and sanctifying. To always remember the Savior is a covenant commitment that comes with powerful promises.

Oh, how important it is to recognize and remember the sacrifices others have made to get us where we are today! Equally important is our need to make the daily sacrifices, ones that keep our testimonies strong and vibrant. That is how we always remember Him. And when we always remember Him, the sacrament truly becomes sacred and sanctifying in our lives.

Reference:

1.  May 28, 2020 Instagram Post – Russell M. Nelson

A Gift From My Daughter

It’s hard to believe that Adrianne would be turning 35 years old today. For her birthday, I decided to share a talk she gave in church less than a year before passed away. Her words inspire me as much today as they did when I heard her share them all those years ago, perhaps more. I hope you will find inspiration in them as well.

“A few months ago, I started rock climbing. I am still learning many techniques and holds, and I still have much to learn. One of the first things I learned is perhaps the thing that I remember most: I will fall. Sometimes a hold is greasy because so many others climb the same route, and I have not sufficiently chalked up my hands. Sometimes I reach for one hold without having a steady grip on another. And other times, perhaps the most frustrating times, I am just not strong enough.

“When I’m climbing and I take a fall, I know I’m not going to get hurt, because my belayer is there to constantly catch me. But, the moment my fingers slip off the lip of a rock or my toe slides out of place and I fall, my heart sinks. Because I failed to secure my next hold, I have to reclimb a portion of the route. Sometimes, I take a fall in the same spot three or four times before I get it right. Many times, it feels superfluous and wasteful to have to retrace the sections that I climbed well before I fell. But, the moments in which I climb back up to my highest point are those that best prepare me for the remainder of the route. As I climb what I did well, I improve the fluidity of my footwork, and I chalk up my hands to prepare for a hand hold that I had no idea was greasy until I grasped it.

“My belayer, whose view is completely different from mine, can offer me beta, or advice, on what he can see. Often, he has already climbed that route, and he knows what to expect. He knows my skill level, my strengths, my weaknesses. He knows how to best guide me.

“The beauty of having a belayer is knowing that you are safe while you climb. When you fall, he can feel the rope slide and can quickly catch you. You share a rope with the belayer, and so you are attached to him; he cannot just up and walk away while you climb.

“Our Savior is our belayer and our guide. He has experienced everything that we could possibly experience. He has taken our falls for us, He knows how to guide us, and He will never walk away from us. When we fall, He, more than any other, knows how to assist us in regaining our path, and our eternal salvation relies on His assistance, which He offers through the Atonement.

“The word atonement means to reconcile. When we sin, we separate ourselves from our Heavenly Father. We lose control, we become weak, and we fall. As a result, we are imperfect and are no longer worthy to be in our Heavenly Father’s presence. Our Father knew that we would be imperfect, and so He sent His Son to reconcile our sins.

Alma, Chapter 7, verses 11 through 13 teach us:

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.1

“Part of the purpose of Christ’s Atonement was to teach Him how to succor us in times of trial, suffering, and sin. The word succor comes from the Latin word succurrere, which means ‘to run to the aid of’.  Our Savior’s perfect, infinite Atonement provides the necessary reconciliation that allows every single one of us to correct our mistakes and overcome our sins, and it allowed our older brother to understand what we are suffering so that He would be able to RUN TO OUR AID.

“Because Jesus Christ is perfect, His guidance will never fail us or lead us astray. Unfortunately, sometimes we deny Him the chance to help us because we are too lazy, too proud, or too discouraged. Each of these feelings is detrimental; yet, no matter how intense, each can be eliminated with prayer.

“First, we are too lazy. Some sins are comfortable. We may find it easy to neglect the spiritual necessity of daily prayer and scripture reading. Worse, we may blame it on being busy. No worldly responsibility, no matter how crucial to our physical well-being, can compensate for spiritual deterioration and neglect. The only cure for laziness is activity. Engage in prayer, and do so frequently. Praying invigorates our spiritual connection with our Heavenly Father, and we become stronger.

“Second, we are too proud. Some sins, like lying, give the illusion of power. A person who habitually lies is generally too ignorant to notice the shaky throne upon which they sit. They may not feel like admitting their lies because it would make them seem weak. No lie is more powerful than honesty. If we are feeling too proud to change even the smallest of sins, we must, once more, pray. When we kneel in prayer, we physically and spiritually humble ourselves to connect with our Heavenly Father, and we open ourselves to His will.

“Third, we are too discouraged. Sins, especially serious ones, are loaded with frustration and despair. Some are completely addicting, trapping us in a spiritual black hole in which we let no light and happiness in or out. We become miserable, murmuring, even malicious. Worst of all, we begin to believe that we are too far gone. President Boyd K. Packer said: ‘There is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no apostasy, no crime exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness. That is the promise of the atonement of Christ.’2 Sincere prayer invites alleviation, healing, and comfort from our adversaries. When we pray, we allow ourselves the blessing of receiving the healing and comfort that our Heavenly Father waits to offer us if we sincerely strive to reconcile our sins and become whole through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

“None of these negative feelings come from our Heavenly Father, and none are worth sacrificing the healing and strengthening powers of the Atonement.

“I submit to you this suggestion: when you are struggling with ANY adversary of any magnitude, kneel down and pray without ceasing to our Heavenly Father. Pray for the strength to overcome whatever you are suffering. Do not expect that your burdens will be instantly lifted. The Atonement is not a spiritual ‘get out of jail free’ card. We cannot expect our Heavenly Father to let us bypass our trials, nor should we want Him to. Were we to float through life without spiritual opposition, our testimonies would shrivel, wilt, and diminish.

“Striving for cleanliness through the Atonement is not a one-time process. It is as constant as breathing – we must do it at all times in order to lead a strong, healthy spiritual life.

“I know the power of the Atonement is real and true. I have felt the palpable peace and comfort that come after I have worked to cleanse myself of sin. I know our Heavenly Father loved us SO much that He provided a path for us to continually cleanse ourselves of our sins, shortcomings, and temptations, so that we may have the opportunity to be with Him again, if we so choose.”

Adrianne’s testimony is a priceless gift to me! I love her so much and feel very blessed to be her mother! Together with hers, I share my testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ. I love Him! Words are not adequate to express my gratitude for the precious gift of His Atonement. Because of Him, I know I will be with my daughter again. That knowledge brings me so much peace. Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “Because of Jesus Christ, we will rise from the despair of death and embrace those we love, shedding tears of overwhelming joy and overflowing gratitude.”3 I look forward to that day with sweet anticipation!

References:

1.  Alma 7:11-13

2.  The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness – Boyd K. Packer

3.  Behold the Man! – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

What Faith Can Do

Helen Keller said, “Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.” That is exactly what happened in the Sacred Grove two hundred years ago. There a 14 year-old boy went to pray, having faith enough to know that if he asked his Heavenly Father a question he would get an answer. And he did get an answer! Because Joseph Smith prayed in faith and then acted in faith on the answer he received, the world has been filled with the incredible light of the gospel!

There have been many times in my life when I have had to rely totally on faith – faith is built on our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the Light of the world. I know that faith in Him can give us the strength to emerge triumphant in times when we feel our world shattering is around us. Without a doubt we will all have times when we feel like our world is shattering around us, because, honestly, that is part of our mortal learning. Those are the refining moments in our lives. During those times, we get to choose if we will have faith, if we will trust Heavenly Father to shape and mold us into the person He wants us to be. While I can’t say that I have loved my trials, I can say I love what my trials have helped me become. I cannot say I have loved watching those I love go through their trials, but I love how they have come through them better and stronger than ever!

Russell M. Nelson reminds us, “If Joseph Smith’s transcendent experience in the Sacred Grove teaches us anything, it is that the heavens are open and that God speaks to His children. The Prophet Joseph Smith set a pattern for us to follow in resolving our questions. … The boy Joseph took his question directly to Heavenly Father. He sought personal revelation, and his seeking opened this last dispensation. … What will your seeking open for you?”1

Do we have the kind of faith that young Joseph had? Do we really know that Heavenly Father will answer our sincere prayers? Do we have enough faith in Him to trust how He answers our prayers? 

I love the beautiful reminder in Alma 58:11 that says, “Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.”

At the beginning of the year, President Nelson issued this challenge, “In this remarkable year as we commemorate the 200th anniversary of the First Vision, I invite you to think deeply and often about this key question: How do you hear Him?”2 Speaking peace to my soul and granting me great faith are some of the sweetest ways I hear Him. Trusting God, having faith in His Son, and listening for the whisperings of the Holy Ghost are things I have to do every day. Then I can hear Him better. And as I learn to hear Him better, I know He will lighten my burdens and brighten my days.  

References:

1.  Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives – Russell M. Nelson

2.  How Do You Hear Him? – Russell M. Nelson

Sabbath Day Blessings

So many things in our lives have changed over the last few months. When suddenly I couldn’t buy toilet paper, bottled water, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes, I thought, “I wish I would have known before so I could have stocked up!” Luckily I had enough of those things in my storage to get by during the shortages. Those are temporal and temporary. What about my spiritual needs? How well is my spiritual storage room stocked? Because one thing is for sure, we have been warned that there are and will continue to be spiritually hard times ahead! For as long as I can remember, those warnings have been given. However, I don’t recall a time when they have been so emphatic.

Think about this and where we are today! In August 2015, Neil L. Andersen said, “In recent months, the First Presidency and the Twelve have felt an undeniable direction from the Lord to declare and reemphasize the Sabbath day and the importance of worthily partaking of the sacrament. As we take the sacrament, we remember the Savior and His Atonement. We come repenting of our sins, pledging our loyalty to covenants made with Him, and hearing again the promises He makes to us. To always have His Spirit with us is a pearl of enormous value. Receiving the sacrament on Sunday is more and more like an oasis in the desert, bubbling with cool spring water, quenching our spiritual thirst, and relieving our parched souls.”1

Two months later, Quentin L. Cook reminded us that “the storms and temptations of this life are often unpredictable. But this we know: they will come! In order to overcome the challenges and temptations that each of us inevitably faces, it will require righteous preparation and the use of divinely provided protections.”2 One of those divinely provided protections is honoring the Sabbath day.  Elder Cook taught, “Honoring the Sabbath is a form of righteousness that will bless and strengthen families, connect us with our Creator, and increase happiness. The Sabbath … allows us to be in the world but not of the world. Truly keeping the Sabbath day holy is a refuge from the storms of this life.”2

Remember in October 2018, when President Russell M. Nelson said, “It is time for a home-centered Church. … The adversary is increasing his attacks on faith and upon us and our families at an exponential rate.” It is undeniable that we are surely seeing that these days! He continued, “To survive spiritually, we need counterstrategies and proactive plans.”3 He also encouraged us to “conscientiously and carefully” transform our homes into sanctuaries of faith. He then gave this profoundly personal and individual promise, “I promise that as you diligently work to remodel your home into a center of gospel learning, over time your Sabbath days will truly be a delight. … [T]he influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease.”4

David A. Bednar has said, “The Sabbath is God’s time, a sacred time specifically set apart for worshipping Him and for receiving and remembering His great and precious promises. … On His holy day, our thoughts, actions, and demeanor are signs we give to God and an indicator of our love for Him. … the Sabbath is to elevate our vision from the things of the world to the blessings of eternity.”5

Sundays definitely look a lot different today than they did eighteen months ago. Churches aren’t open for worshipping. Religious experts are worried that when they do reopen many people will not return. In a newspaper article the other day, Nancy Ammerman, a professor of the sociology of religion at Boston University, said, “People who stop attending church rarely develop or maintain spiritual practices at home.”6

Clearly our prophet feels differently! Home-centered church is a proactive plan that, if followed, will not only help us maintain spiritual practices but where we can “learn doctrine, strengthen faith, and foster greater personal worship.”3

M. Russell Ballard called home-centered church “an opportunity to renew our spirit and our devotion to God within the walls of our homes.”7

And Elder Bednar said, “Our most instructive Sunday School classes should be our individual and family study in our places of residence.”8

Hopefully soon we will be able to gather in our churches to worship together. Until then, may we be ever vigilant in creating sanctuaries of faith in our homes. Elder Bednar gives this prophetic warning we would do well to heed, “Making our homes sanctuaries wherein we can ‘stand in holy places’ is essential in these latter days. And as important as home-centered and Church-supported learning is for our spiritual strength and protection today, it will be even more vital in the future.”8 (emphasis added)

Then Elder Bednar gives us this encouraging reminder, “Compensating blessings will come as we strive to fulfill our individual responsibility to learn and love the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”8

Elder Andersen gives this impressive list of compensating blessings for our righteous efforts that should help ease some of the inevitable anxieties we are all feeling, “The Lord has long anticipated this most important period of human history. He knows the end from the beginning. The Savior has assured us in our day, ‘Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you.’ As we find our way in a world less attentive to the commandments of God, we will certainly be prayerful, but we need not be overly alarmed. The Lord will bless His Saints with the added spiritual power necessary to meet the challenges of our day. … As evil increases in the world, there is a compensatory spiritual power for the righteous. As the world slides from its spiritual moorings, the Lord prepares the way for those who seek Him, offering them greater assurance, greater confirmation, and greater confidence in the spiritual direction they are traveling. The gift of the Holy Ghost becomes a brighter light in the emerging twilight.”1

May we find peace and hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ every day but especially on the Sabbath day.

References:

1.  A Compensatory Spiritual Power for the Righteous – Neil L. Andersen

2.  Shipshape and Bristol Fashion: Be Temple Worthy—in Good Times and Bad Times – Quentin L. Cook

3.  Opening Remarks – Russell M. Nelson

4.  Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints – Russell M. Nelson

5.  Exceeding Great and Precious Promises – David A. Bednar

6.  Church participation has been declining for decades. Will the pandemic make it worse? – Nancy Ammerman

7.  The True, Pure, and Simple Gospel of Jesus Christ – M. Russell Ballard

8.  Prepared to Obtain Every Needful Thing – David A. Bednar

The Invitation to Hear Him

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the invitation to hear Him. How do I hear Him? Where do I hear Him? When do I hear Him?

How do I hear Him? – President Nelson teaches that we “more clearly hear Him as we refine our ability to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. It has never been more imperative to know how the Spirit speaks to you than right now. In the Godhead, the Holy Ghost is the messenger. He will bring thoughts to your mind which the Father and Son want you to receive. He is the Comforter. He will bring a feeling of peace to your heart. He testifies of truth and will confirm what is true as you hear and read the word of the Lord.”1

I love Boyd K. Packer’s explanation, “The Holy Ghost speaks with a voice that you feel more than you hear. It is described as a ‘still small voice.’ And while we speak of ‘listening’ to the whisperings of the Spirit, most often one describes a spiritual prompting by saying, ‘I had a feeling …’”2

Understanding how the Spirit speaks to us personally is so important. I reluctantly share a not-so-good personal experience. My dad’s mom was one of the sweetest women ever! I don’t ever remember hearing her complain. She was gentle and loving and giving. I learned so many valuable lessons from my grandma! Sadly, she spent her last few years battling cancer. One morning I needed to run a quick errand. At the time I had small children, so when my husband offered to go to work a minute late, I gladly accepted and told him I would hurry. On my way home, I got the impression that I should go see Grandma. I brushed the thought aside, telling myself I would go later since I really needed to let my husband get to work. Several hours later, I got a call from my sister who had gone to visit Grandma. When she arrived, Grandma was laying on the kitchen floor, unable to move. She had gone in to fix herself some breakfast and had fallen.  She laid, shivering on the cold, hard floor for hours, in and out of consciousness, with a broken hip. The prompting I had received was within minutes of her fall.  Because I ignored it, my sweet grandma endured needless hours of pain and suffering. I felt sick! I had not recognized that impression as a prompting from the Holy Ghost. That day I asked Heavenly Father to forgive me for ignoring the Spirit and promised to never do that again.  Every day I try to keep that commitment to my Heavenly Father. It takes conscious effort to hear spiritual promptings in an increasingly noisy and casual world.

Where do I hear Him? – In 3 Nephi 17:3, the Savior Himself tells us, “ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds.”3 Surely we can and will hear Him as we read, ponder and study the scriptures, and when we are on our knees in humble prayer. One of my favorite places to hear Him is in the temple. I love to be in His holy house! Remember, spiritual impressions come when we are quiet enough to hear them. They continue to come as we listen to and act upon them.

When do I hear Him? – If we prepare ourselves spiritually, we can hear Him anytime and anywhere. No matter what is going on around us, if everything is right within us, we will hear Him. President Nelson has warned us that “it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”4 He has encouraged us, even pleaded with us, to “hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly.”4 Earlier this month, he said, “I renew my plea for you to do whatever it takes increase your spiritual capacity to receive personal revelation.”1 I think that is so significant! This isn’t just a suggestion for us, it’s a plea. 

When I think of pleading, I think of those times when I have needed Heavenly Father’s help more than anything else—when I needed something only He could give me. Our pleadings are often in our most trying times. President Nelson reminds us, “Our Father knows that when we are surrounded by uncertainty and fear, what will help us the very most is to hear His Son. Because when we seek to hear—truly hear—His Son, we will be guided to know what to do in any circumstance.”1 When we hear Him, He can heal us. When we hear Him, He can comfort us. When we hear Him, He can teach us. When we hear Him, He can guide us.

Oh how wise we will be to follow the prophet’s counsel to increase our spiritual capacity. He said, “In those two words—’Hear Him’—God gives us the pattern for success, happiness, and joy in this life. We are to hear the words of the Lord, hearken to them, and heed what He has told us! As we seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional.”1

It is difficult to comprehend the peace and protection we will feel in our lives when we truly know how, where and when to hear Him.

References:

1.  Hear Him – Russell M. Nelson

2.  Personal Revelation: The Gift, The Test and the Promise – Boyd K. Packer

3.  3 Nephi 17:3

4.  Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives – Russell M. Nelson