Monday, June 13, 2016

Listening to the Spirit

Brother Mike Ramirez works as a Media Services Producer with the Publishing Services Department of the Church.   He gave an inspired message at our Monday morning devotional that I've been thinking about a lot.

The context of his message was about the importance of family history work, so of course I found it to be of interest.  He spoke of going home to his native land of the Philippines to find information about his family.   He bore strong testimony of the truth of this work and the inspired nature of the My Family 15 in 15 challenge from the Area Presidency.  He shared some key quotes form church leaders.  It really was a great talk.

But what impressed me most was what he said BEFORE the main subject of his talk.

Apparently Mike had been on the ball, preparing his assigned talk several days ahead of time.   He had prayed and pondered to know what to say.  He looked up key scriptures to use, included a personal story and put together a talk that he felt good about.  On Sunday night he went to bed, feeling confident he was ready for devotional on Monday morning.

However, he woke up about 1:45 AM with a feeling he should not give that talk that he had worked so hard to prepare.  Mike recognized the feeling for what it was, not any personal misgivings about speaking,  but a prompting of the Holy Spirit telling him that the Lord had a different message He wanted Mike to share.  At first he was tempted to tell the Spirit "Shut up. My talk is ready.  It's a good talk.  I don't want to start all over now."

But as much as he would have liked to simply roll over to go back to sleep, Mike is an obedient servant of the Lord.  When he recognizes a spiritual prompting, he knows he must do what he is asked.  So he got up out of bed, said a prayer for guidance, and started from scratch to write down whatever it was the Lord wanted him to share.  Mike said the whole talk just came to him in about ten minutes.   He typed as fast as he could to capture the words as they came to his mind.  What came out was this beautiful talk about family history.

Many people were moved by that talk and several followed through right away by going on to FamilySearch to find family names to submit for temple ordinances.   Families will be strengthened on both sides of the veil as a direct result of  that talk.  That's powerful stuff!

The part that impressed me, however, was how the talk came about.  I will long remember Mike's ability to recognize the voice of the Spirit and his willingness to follow through.  The scriptures refer to communication from the Holy Spirit as "the still small voice".    When that sort of inspiration comes,  it is a whisper, not a shout.   It comes as a gentle nudge, not a shove.

Boyd K Packer has taught:  "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 the Spirit's prompting by saying, I had a feeling."

I so appreciate Mike Ramirez for his wonderful example of heeding the Spirit.  I hope in the final days of our mission and throughout my life, I can do a better job of following that example.  I know that quiet, gentle prompting do indeed come.  I want to be ready to recognize them when they come, to learn to be able to distinguish clearly the promptings of the Spirit from my own ideas and emotions.  Then, when those true, genuine promptings do come, I want to have the faith to heed them.  


I'm including some links to talks about "the still small voice" so I can come back here and review this topic more.

From a 2005 Conference talk talk by Richard C. Edgely of the presiding bishopric:
"When Elijah was fleeing for his life from the wicked Phoenician princess Jezebel, the Lord directed him to a high mountain, where he had a most unusual experience. As Elijah stood upon the mount before the Lord, he felt “a great and strong wind … ; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” (
1 Kgs. 19:11–12)."

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, (2011), 180–87 https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-heber-j-grant/chapter-20?lang=eng

S. Dillworth Young. April 1976 General Conference Address:  "The Still Small Voice".

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