Friday, June 21, 2013

Revelation

As I mentioned, I listened to Hearing the Voice of the Lord by Gerald Lund. I learned some great things from this book.

He shared an experience of a time when his daughter said that she didn't think she had a testimony. He was surprised and confused, because he knew she regularly studied the scriptures on her own as well as with the family, she willingly provided service to others and so on. As he talked with her, she expressed that she didn't know if she'd ever felt the spirit...she certainly hadn't had miraculous events like Alma the Younger or King Lamoni or others in the scriptures. He explained that most of us don't see angels or have grand events. Some of us do, and those are valid and important forms of revelation. But most of us have quieter forms of revelation and inspiration.

He shared something along with that which I've reflected on a lot and shared with my kids. He talked about being in a dark room and turning on a flashlight. The flashlight is very noticeable... you can really see that a light has suddenly come on and is illuminating the room or a portion of the room. Now imagine you are in a room filled with light...the windows are open, the overhead lights are on. You turn on that same flashlight. It isn't going to have as big of an impact, because there is already light. He said that in a way this can be compared to the spirit. When we grow up in righteous, active homes, the spirit is in our lives often. We may feel the spirit so often that we may not even always recognize it...we sort of take it for granted just as we would the flashlight in a lighted room. But for those who grow up in harder homes or where they haven't heard the gospel before, the spirit may be such a new experience that it may feel more like turning on that flashlight in a dark room...much more noticeable because it has been missing in their lives before.

I don't feel like I've explained that as well as he did, but the point is that as members, we may not always realize the times when the spirit is guiding us, protecting us, inspiring us because we are blessed to have the Holy Ghost as our constant companion if we live righteously. So we may rarely if ever experience huge miraculous seeming experiences. But that doesn't mean we haven't felt the spirit or don't have a testimony. He even said that the way we choose to live our lives is often proof of our testimony...if we are choosing to read the scriptures or pray or go to church or serve without being told to or someone making us, then that is proof that we do have at least the beginnings of a testimony.

Another thing that really stuck out to me that is really pretty obvious, but also very important is that God determines all aspects of personal revelation. That means He decides how, when and what type of revelation we receive. We don't decide if he's going to answer us right now or next week or next month; He decides. We don't decide if we will hear a voice in our minds, feel a burning in our bosoms, see an angel, have a dream, or see a vision; He does. Personal revelation is tied closely to righteous living; however, it doesn't mean that we are doing something wrong if we aren't having spectacular spiritual experiences. Most revelation comes in less direct, less spectacular (but still important and valid) ways.

Another thing that helped me was to hear that we need to develop spiritual self-reliance. We should ask the Lord for guidance in things that matter; but there are plenty of things we do not need to pray about...for example what outfit to wear or what brand of cereal to buy ...these things don't matter and we can and should make up our own minds. But when it comes time to make important decisions, the Lord will not allow us to take many steps in the wrong direction without giving us a warning. Sometimes He won't answer right away...perhaps because we haven't studied the issue in our mind and reached a conclusion about what is right or perhaps because he wants us to begin to act on what we think is right and then he'll let us know if we are doing the right thing. He shared an experience of a young woman who was trying to decide whether to get married or go on a mission. She didn't seem to have a strong feeling either way, so she decided to serve a mission. She entered the MTC feeling unsure if she'd made the right choice. While she was there, she kept praying to know for sure if this is what she should do. Finally, when she got on the airplane headed to her mission, the spirit confirmed to her that she'd made the right choice. But she had to take several steps before she knew for sure that she was doing the right thing. Conversely, sometimes we may begin to take steps toward soemthing and then have the spirit warn us that it is not the right decision to make.

I am so grateful for the power of personal revelation. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to serve and help others in small ways as I have listened to the promptings of the spirit. I'm grateful for the times that the Holy Ghost has comforted me and spoken peace to my mind. I'm grateful for the guidance I have received as a mother, a wife, a neighbor, a friend, and a Relief Society President. We are so blessed to have the Holy Ghost as our constant companion.