Ever since the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of things have changed. Economically, personally, socially, and spiritually. While many businesses, schools, and gyms, are closing for the time being, everyone seems to be doing what they normally do at home: working from home, schooling at home, and working out from home. The streets are typically empty unless you need to go to Walmart or Costco for another roll of toilet paper (good luck!)
Simplify that down, and what does it look like? It looks like there is a fair amount of commotion in our lives, a quiet presence in our communities, and a whole lot of free time. I would like to ask, has this “extra free time” been more personal for you, or do you see it as more of a break altogether?
What are you doing with the free time?
Perhaps you are remodeling that bathroom your spouse has been nagging you about for the last few years. Maybe you are taking more time to teach your son how to play baseball. Or perhaps you are teaching yourself how to garden and are looking forward to getting some good, homegrown produce.
But what about your spiritual life? Are you taking the time to remodel your faith? While all of this is going on, are you teaching yourself more about Jesus Christ? Are you planting good seeds that will bring forth good fruit?
Looking at what all has happened, it’s clear to me that God is sending a couple of messages.
Be Prepared Physically and Spiritually.
One of the first messages I’ve been prompted to share was summed up in this picture. I share this picture because there are things here that need to be discussed. Following the counsel of the prophets is one of the more essential things we can do to be spiritually prepared and to “Hear Him,” as President Russell M. Nelson invited us to do. “Whether by my own voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same,” the Lord Himself declared. If you have been listening to and following the admonitions of His servants, you will be okay.
Emergency preparedness. I’m sure that each of you can hear President Gordon B. Hinckley plea with each of us to be prepared. He also declared what the Church has been doing to be prepared for when an emergency strikes. Is it any coincidence the pleas for being prepared has risen? Forget about COVID-19 for a moment. In the time since I started writing this article, there was an earthquake in Idaho. That one came two weeks after the one in Magna, Utah! Granted, those earthquakes were not as bad as the ones that have hit South America in the last 20 years. But how long will it be until one of that magnitude comes here? Can you say that you are prepared? It will be difficult to Hear Him if you are not prepared when an emergency strikes.
Repentance and Obedience
The second message I’ve been impressed to action was worded very well by Brikaeli Guzy. I believe the Lord is asking not only His Church but the entire world, to repent and obey Him.
Mormon editorialized in the book of Helaman: “And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.” Later in the same chapter, we read that even the dust of the earth obeys Him. But we, because of our pride, are slow to obey Him. Mormon didn’t exactly mince his words when he stated that we are, “less than the dust of the earth.”
Elder Christofferson taught: “For our turning to the Lord to be complete, it must include nothing less than a covenant of obedience to Him.” He later went on to quote Professor Noel Reynolds in saying, “The choice to repent is a choice to burn bridges in every direction [having determined] to follow forever only one way, the one path that leads to eternal life.” In order for us to stay on that path, we need to be as obedient as possible to the gospel of Jesus Christ, for no other paths can lead to Him.
There are many ways to Hear Him. Back in January, I decided that I was going to read the Book of Mormon and the previous session of General Conference talks before this spring’s General Conference. The doctrines I have learned were incredible, as always. But I was also taught something that only the Holy Ghost would have been able to teach me: another way to Hear Him!
Something else you can do to Hear Him is by going to the temple on a regular basis. Yes, I am just as aware as all of you that all temples are closed for the foreseeable future. However, I would like to give this example so you can remember it when the temple reopens. One of my high school basketball coaches told me he had the privilege of being set apart as stake president by then-Elder Russell M. Nelson. Elder Nelson asked my coach, “Which is more important? Leading your stake to the temple, or to the Lord Jesus Christ?” My coach asked what the difference was. To which, Elder Nelson replied, “If you lead them to either the temple or to the Lord, there is no difference. Both lead to Heaven.”
One of my institute teachers once told me, “God is always talking. But it is us mortals who have listening problems.” I suppose this is where the old adage, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason,” comes into play. I hope and pray that each of us can take this “extra” time we have to be still and listen. As we do so and obey Him, we will continue to #HearHim as He speaks to each of us.
“General conference… will be different from any previous conference,” as President Nelson promised six months ago. Brothers and Sisters, have you been able to Hear Him, so far, this General Conference weekend?
- “Repentance” -Elder Neal A. Maxwell, October 1991
- “Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady” -Elder Henry B. Eyring, October 2005
- “Hearing His Voice” -Elder David P. Homer, April 2019
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