Author’s Note: This was originally written as an oratorical, congregant-led sermon (except the last few lines which were delivered extemporaneously during my talk). Thus, in a battle between grammatical accuracy and auditory appeal, the sound rules the day. Be patient with me and please, enjoy the lesson and leave your input below!
Today I was asked to address the topic of how the Holy Ghost helps me in my decision making.
I’m currently at the precipice of some of the most significant choices and subsequent changes that I’ve ever experienced. On Tuesday, I’m moving to Provo to attend law school, and in the process, I’m leaving family, friends, a ward and a job that I love and feel challenged by in meaningful ways.
It would be fair to assume, then, that I’ve recently experienced poignant spiritual promptings from the Holy Ghost that have altered that path. The truth is, while the Holy Ghost has historically been very clear about the correct way to go when it comes to major life choices, that hasn’t been the case this time around.
In fact, I’ve struggled to recognize whether or not I’m making the wrong decision. It’s been overwhelming and the adversary has aggressively attacked me at every turn. Doubts about my ability to succeed in law school, my choice to leave a job that I feel is important, and practically every other part of my life have become something that I consistently have to recognize and reject.
But that doesn’t mean that the Comforter has left me comfortless. Today, I want to speak about the experience that so many of us have. I want to dispel the rumor that the absence of great, life-altering revelations means that we’re somehow living below the standard or care of the Holy Ghost’s reach, or the outstretched arms of any member of the Godhead, more broadly.
If we find ourselves in situations where we feel that our Father in Heaven has left us to our own devices— a place that often feels lonely and breeds the fear that never comes from God—we would do well to recall the words of Elder David A Bednar when he described the way that he typically feels the Spirit:
“Sometimes, receiving inspiration is like a foggy day. There’s enough light that you can tell it’s not darkness anymore. It’s not night. But it’s not brilliantly illuminated. You can see just enough to take a few steps ahead into the cloudiness.”
He continued, “I don’t know about other people, but it occurs that way for me all the time. There’s enough to just take a few steps. And then the light continues to help me see just far enough ahead that I can continue to press forward.”
I recently had the opportunity to speak with our incredible stake president, a man that I genuinely admire and respect. He counseled me, no doubt because He lives worthily of the companionship of the Holy Ghost, to consider the idea that God gives us manna sufficient for the day.
He spoke about the Israelite’s experience in the wilderness. Each day, they were given exactly what they needed to be sustained for that day. No more. No less.
We need to remember, like the Israelites, how incredibly miraculous that still is. We need to remember, like the Israelites, how sweet our daily manna can be to our souls when we stop complaining that it’s not the miracle we’d hoped for. We need to remember, like the Israelites, that our lack of over-abundance doesn’t negate the fact that we are given all that we need to thrive.
It is my experience that when we are obedient to the laws of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we will be sustained by heaven-sent nourishment. We may not know everything, but we can know enough. When we are hungry, we will be given manna sufficient for the day. When we thirst, the Savior will give us His living water. This is the kind of nourishment that sustains us as we digest our darkest days and helps us be filled with joy.
In D&C 11:13 it teaches, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy.”
What a shame it would be if we starved ourselves of those blessings just because we’re waiting for an instantaneous feast that the Holy Ghost gives us bit by bit, day by day, according to our faithfulness.
So, when questions loom large, and the Spirit’s whisperings seem incomprehensible, how do we recognize the nourishment we’re given? Elder Bednar taught, “We have to act, then we find out if it’s coming from [us], or if it’s the power of God. Everything that invites and entices to do good, and to be good, comes from God.”
In anticipation of the question of why our Father in Heaven allows the Holy Ghost to work in this manner, he continues, “Why not make it easy to recognize all the time? I would suggest that the simple answer is because God trusts us. He shouldn’t have to dramatically shake us to get our attention.”
In other words, our loving Heavenly Father believes in our ability to act. As His children, He wants us to become even as He is, and thus we must learn how to be actors, producers, and authors in our own lives.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Surely, this is manna from heaven.
Preach My Gospel expounds upon this principle when it says, “God loves you and all His children. He is anxious to support you in your practical and specific challenges. You have been promised inspiration to know what to do and have been given power to do it.”
When we face decisions that feel hazy, we need to remember that the Spirit will guide us. We may be allowed to follow the wrong path for a time, but when we are sensitive to the Holy Ghost, we can rest assured that we will not be penalized for our righteous desires.
The Spirit’s voice may be still, and it may be small, but it is powerful nonetheless. Its witness can change our hearts and minds. Its comfort can heal our hearts and minds and its warnings can protect them.
To that end, we must remember to make the time and effort to sanctify ourselves and make room for its influence in our lives. This world is filled with literal and figurative noise that can drown out the soft promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Our Father in Heaven needs you and your unique contributions. You are powerful and singly equipped to help in the cause of our Savior. Be ready to answer the call by being prepared to feel the Spirit and committed to doing as it instructs.
It is my testimony that when we do as the Holy Ghost asks, we become mighty tools in His hands. Playing a role in His work brings a peace and a grounded joy that can be felt in no other way.
I’m eternally grateful for the manna that I’m given. I know, from experience, that the Holy Ghost will provide sufficiently for each day. When I have the faith to remember that, everything changes.
It is my hope and my prayer that you will partake of the promptings of the Holy Ghost in abundance, always remembering that we have a loving Heavenly Father who is acutely aware of our needs. As you are on His errand, He will feed you. Please, have faith in that.