When the name of Henry B. Eyring was read in the October 2007 general conference as the new counselor in the First Presidency, I had to smile. While we love all of our general authorities, and would have sustained any of them in this new calling, I’m sure many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide did just the same thing.
Elder Eyring’s messages have impressed me repeatedly through the years that he has served as an apostle. I love the way that he is able to explain principles in a clear and logical way, while still relying on faith and the Spirit for guidance. His example in his talk that he gave in the April 2006 general conference is one that has remained with me for quite some time.
In his talk, Elder Eyring spoke of becoming as a little child–meek, humble, and submissive to those things that our Heavenly Father would have us experience and do. He shared a personal experience that certainly struck a chord with me. I believe it gives us great insight into his character as well.
Once . . . I prayed through the night to know what I was to choose to do in the morning. I knew that no other choice could have had a greater effect on the lives of others and on my own. I knew what choice looked most comfortable to me. I knew what outcome I wanted. But I could not see the future. I could not see which choice would lead to which outcome. So the risk of being wrong seemed too great to me.
I prayed, but for hours there seemed to be no answer. Just before dawn, a feeling came over me. More than at any time since I had been a child, I felt like one. My heart and my mind seemed to grow very quiet. There was a peace in that inner stillness.
Somewhat to my surprise, I found myself praying, “Heavenly Father, it doesn’t matter what I want. I don’t care anymore what I want. I only want that Thy will be done. That is all that I want. Please tell me what to do.”
In that moment I felt as quiet inside as I had ever felt. And the message came, and I was sure who it was from. It was clear what I was to do. I received no promise of the outcome. There was only the assurance that I was a child who had been told what path led to whatever He wanted for me.
I learned from that experience and countless repetitions that the description of the Holy Ghost as a still, small voice is real . . . Only when my heart has been still and quiet, in submission like a little child, has the Spirit been clearly audible to my heart and mind. (Elder Henry B. Eyring, “As a Child,” April 2006 General Conference)
That example has stayed with me repeatedly. It has taught me that it isn’t enough to pray for help; we need to seek earnestly for what the Lord would have us do. And it isn’t enough to seek for answers until we have something else we’d like to do, such as sleeping. Truly seeking to follow the Lord can require sacrifice. We can’t expect to hear the whisperings of the Spirit when we’re too preoccupied to listen to them. Moreover, following the Lord’s will doesn’t always guarantee the outcomes we personally want. But we can trust that it will always ultimately be for the best. As we truly, humbly, seek to do the will of the Lord, our own desires will matter less to us.
I look forward to continuing to learn from this great leader and teacher. May the Lord continue to bless and protect him. There is much we can learn from him and his example.