As I enjoyed the comfortable, soothing words of General Conference, I felt an unexpected jolt. Our church leaders invited us over and over again to become more converted. I suddenly wondered when the next tumultuous wave would hit. I felt like each talk was an Alma 5 experience—“if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?”
There were so many great examples TEACHING us how to apply gospel principles in our lives. These stories stood out to me. In the comments, I’d love if you’d share what ones that stood out to you.
How to Hear and Follow the Spirit
Elder Uceda’s personal story on the treacherous path to the Inca Bridge showed varying levels of how to hear and follow the Spirit. He said he’d felt two quiet promptings to not go on the trail. But, he ultimately ignored the prompting because of concern for the other missionaries. Ironically, the other missionaries traversed the precarious trail just fine, but Elder Uceda found himself clutching to a tree branch while dangling over a 2,000 foot drop.
He’d passed another elder who had been directed by the Holy Ghost to wait where he was and then proceed after Elder Uceda passed. Because that elder followed the promptings of the Holy Ghost, the Lord provided a saving arm for Elder Uceda.
One of Elder Uceda’s takeaways was that the Lord listened and responded to him even though he didn’t listen and respond to the Lord.
Am I heeding the Spirit’s promptings for myself and to help others? I appreciate those whose listening ear have saved me from peril.
How to Parent with Power
Elder Nattress shared another really personal story. As a youngster, his mom read the Book of Mormon every morning during breakfast. He said he focused on reading the cereal boxes. One day, he finally asked his mother WHY she kept reading the Book of Mormon every day, because he was not listening.
His mom told him that she heard President Marion G. Romney promise that if parents read the Book of Mormon to their children every day, then their children would not be lost. She looked directly at her son and said “And I will not lose you!” Because of her faith, Elder Nattress’ mom proceeded in faith, relying on the Lord’s promises.
Do I believe and rely on the Lord’s promises with such faith and conviction? Do I heed counsel and immediately apply it to my life?
How to Ask for Blessings through Obedience
President Monson shared the story of a soldier ordered to evacuate. The crew of the ship, already underway, didn’t have time to help the group onto the ship, so just tossed his group ropes from the deck of the ship. Clinging to the rope as the ship powered along, the soldier felt his weakness and body fatigue. He knew if he dropped into the water, he’d die.
He prayed, acknowledging his situation, and telling the Lord he’d lived a clean life of living the Word of Wisdom. Suddenly, he felt power beyond his own capacity propel his body up the rope and onto the deck.
Hopefully I’ll never be dangling over the side of a ship, but I’ve called upon God’s enabling power for other things. I appreciate that Heavenly Father not only honors our agency but rushes to our aid when we ask for His help. He’s promised covenant keepers great blessings.
How to be Healed
Sister Stephens shared an amazing story about the Savior’s impact on a life tortured by mental illness. During a time of extreme duress, the girl’s mother held the girl saying that she would do anything to take the pain from her daughter. The girl, in the midst of the anguish, suddenly felt the Savior’s presence. She knew, in her peril, that Jesus Christ knew of her suffering and pain, and that because of His atoning grace, He HAD taken the pain away from her.
The girl gave Christ her cross to carry and she faced her physical challenges differently and with great faith. This act of grace also answered her mother’s prayer.
Do I give my sins, weaknesses, and grief to Christ or do I cling to them for some reason? He will heal and mend in His time and way. The girl jumped from hearing about atoning grace to experiencing it. Have I experienced it lately?
How to Serve with Power and Faith
President Uchtdorf’s story of the elders who persistently tracted an entire building until they reached the fourth floor, last door reminded me of the principle of endurance in service. Often we expect our service will benefit people around us. But, ultimately, God rewards our service when we’ve endured in faith.
In this case, the elders found a family needing the Gospel. The girl who opened the door felt compelled to listen to their message. Because of her persistence, the elders taught the mother and both of her daughters and baptized the family soon afterwards. That daughter heeding the Spirit’s voice was Harriet Uchtdorf.
So many takeaways from this story. Do I endure to the fourth floor, last door inspite of rejection or hardship? Do I carry enough of the Holy Ghost as a companion that the person readied by God can recognize the Spirit in me? Am I in the right place at the right time?
On the flip side, do I seek truth and persist in learning like Sister Uchtdorf did? Do I allow God’s hand to penetrate in times of grief and hardship like her mother did?
I laughed and cried through Elder Holland’s story of the Home Teaching Miracle. I have been on both sides of that story. I thought of the gal, water dripping from head to toe, struggling to reclaim her house, feeling grateful to God for sending help her way. And then, her home teachers said they could tell she was busy and left. I wondered if her home teachers were listening to the conference talk and recognized themselves.
My dad has always been a very diligent home teacher. I remember him going home teaching my entire life. He used to take me with him as his companion when I was 4 or 5 year old. I vividly remember some of those visits in San Simon, Arizona.
But, my husband and I have had very few home teachers grace our doorstep throughout our marriage. Out of a possible 231 months, we’ve had home teachers visit maybe 18-20 times. In the short time he was assigned to us, one particular home teacher provided an everlasting Home Teaching Miracle for our family. He’s our friend and brother forever.
But how’s my service? Am I non-committal or willing for the long-haul? My brother taught me a beautiful lesson about being committed. He served as a home teacher to someone with a debilitating, terminal disease. My brother stopped by his house, nearly daily, to help get the man into bed. And he did it for over a year. My brother became so significant to the family that they asked him to speak at the man’s funeral. That’s service that really mattered and he rose to the Home Teacher Miracle occasion.
Elder Yamashita recalled the experience of an elder who wore a prosthetic leg that kept breaking as he served in a bicycle area. The elder served diligently, but the breakages and injuries really began affecting him. Elder Yamashita asked if on his missionary application the elder requested a mission where he wouldn’t have to ride a bike. The elder said he had, so when he received his call to Japan, the elder felt surprised. But, he knew that the Lord knew him and his situation and if the Lord called him to ride a bike during his mission, then he determined that he would.
Ultimately, the elder transferred to a different mission after the medical staff’s concern that the prosthetic was perpetually beyond complete repair and after Elder Yamashita’s prayer to determine what to do.
Wow. This story really reminded me of several things. One—always have faith that the Lord knows me and remembers where I am, what my strengths and weaknesses are.
Two—believe that the best I can do is all the Lord requires of me. My service will be different than someone else’s service. Never compare/contrast the two, just seek the Lord’s direction and approval.
Three—Inspiration is available in every situation. Inspiration gave the missionary faith and strength. Inspiration directed his companion to call the mission president. Inspiration gave his mission president empathy and concern and direction. The elder served honorably in every way he could, as the Lord called him to serve and until the Lord changed the service.
Modern Day Parables
These stories all became parables for me. I saw myself in each character in the stories. The greatest takeaway for me was to check my conversion. What’s the status of my faith? How is my relationship with the Savior? Am I able to have the companionship of the Holy Ghost? Am I listening to that still, small voice? How is my empathy towards others? Do I serve them and pray for them?
In a time prophesied that not only will men’s heart be hardened, but will fail them, I am so grateful for living examples that show me how to recognize my need to push back the powers of darkness and keep the faith.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.