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Acting on Spiritual Promptings

Acting on Spiritual Promptings | Jared Anderson

Brothers and Sisters Aloha!

I wish that it was my wife that was speaking to you today and that I could introduce her. She would do a much better job than I ever could. She was born in Tahiti and shortly afterwards, she was sent to be raised by her grandmother on the island of Tubuai, where she joined the Church at age 8. She returned to Tahiti when she was 10 years old and was the only member of her immediate family. This did not stop her from attending church every week and bringing her younger siblings with her. Eight of her siblings eventually joined the Church and after nearly 4 decades, her mother, who is here with us today, was baptized. Maeva loves the gospel and loves to serve others. The world is definitely a better place because of my wife, Maeva.

27 years ago, both my wife and I were admitted to BYU–Hawaii. Looking back, like many of you, we can definitely see the hand of the Lord in bringing us here. From the first moment, I stepped foot on this campus, I felt the spirit of this special place. I felt like I was at home. I now feel that BYU–Hawaii is part of my identity, of who I am. As I walk around campus, it feels like I am walking around my own home. It is such a great blessing to be associated with this institution and the wonderful people who come here to study, to teach, to work, and to serve.

President David O. McKay prophesied that, “from this school will go men and women whose influence will be felt for good towards the establishment of peace internationally.” My wife and I have witnessed this prophecy being fulfilled many times over as we have seen friends and fellow students return to their home countries and become leaders. They are changing lives and changing the world as they serve in the Church and in their communities.

About 15 years ago, my family had the blessing of feeding the full-time missionaries in our home. At the conclusion of the meal, the missionaries shared a short message with my family. After the message, I thought I knew what was coming next. The missionaries would ask us if we knew anyone who they could share the gospel with. I always found this a bit difficult. I want to share the gospel and, as a former missionary myself, I knew that member referrals were the most productive way to introduce others to the gospel of Jesus Christ. But it seemed that all my friends, family, work colleagues, and neighbors were already members of the Church. But this time, instead of asking for referrals, the missionaries challenged us to pray for missionary opportunities. I remember thinking to myself, “I can definitely do that.”

Praying for missionary opportunities became part of our family and personal prayers, that continues to this day. A few weeks later I was working upstairs in the Lorenzo Snow Administration Building. It was the late afternoon and most people had gone home for the day. There was a student worker from an Eastern European country, who was a new student and had just started working for our department. He turned to me and asked me a question. He asked, “Who is Brigham Young, and why is the university named after him?”

I responded that Brigham Young was a prophet who led the Church after the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. His next question was, “Who is Joseph Smith?” I quickly realized that this student did not know anything concerning the Church or the restoration of the gospel. I received a prompting to share with him the account of Joseph Smith’s first vision and to share my testimony of it, which I did. I taught him about the restoration of the gospel and how we have a living prophet on the earth today who leads and guides us. I felt the spirit as I taught and testified. I could tell that this student felt the spirit as well. We had other conversations about God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I was thankful to have this missionary opportunity. To receive a prompting and to have the courage to act upon the prompting. This student didn’t stay long at BYU–Hawaii and I do not know where he is today, but I do know that he knows who Joseph Smith is and has an understanding of the restoration of the gospel.

Each week when we partake of the sacrament, we covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, to always remember him, and to keep the commandments. The lord in turn promises us that if we do this, we may have His spirit to be with us.

To have the Spirit with us is such a wonderful and powerful blessing. In a General Conference talk entitled “Let the Holy Spirit Guide”, Elder Ronald A. Rasband said,

“Our Father in Heaven knew that in mortality we would face challenges, tribulation, and turmoil; He knew we would wrestle with questions, disappointments, temptations, and weaknesses. To give us mortal strength and divine guidance, He provided the Holy Spirit, another name for the Holy Ghost.

“The Holy Ghost binds us to the Lord. By divine assignment, He inspires, testifies, teaches, and prompts us to walk in the light of the Lord. We have the sacred responsibility to learn to recognize His influence in our lives and respond.”

Brothers and sisters, we need to live worthy enable us to have the Spirit as our companion. We do this is by trying our best to live the way the Lord would want us to live. By striving to be a true disciple of our Savior and to live a life of service. When we have the Spirit with us, we can receive spiritual promptings.

Elder Rasband said, “The Spirit speaks words that we feel. These feelings are gentle, a nudge to act, to do something, to say something, to respond in a certain way.” He further said, “We must be confident in our first promptings. Sometimes we rationalize; we wonder if we are feeling a spiritual impression or if it is just our own thoughts. When we begin to second-guess, even third-guess, our feelings—and we all have—we are dismissing the Spirit; we are questioning divine counsel.”

These promptings may be easily recognizable for some, but for me, it seems the still small voice is very still and very small. I need to pay close attention to my feelings to be able to recognize communication from the Spirit. It seems so natural and often I only recognize spiritual communication after acting upon it, in retrospect. For me, I think acting on spiritual promptings is like acting on my righteous instincts.

I remember a devotional here about 10 years ago where Sister Sheri Dew talked about receiving communication through the Spirit. She said, “If you are not sure what it sounds like for you, or feels like for you when information is coming from above, I invite you to get on your knees and begin to ask. This is not something that will be done by next Thursday. It will take a while, but little by little you will feel drawn to things that will help you. You will be drawn to information; you will be drawn to scriptures that will give you clues about things you need to start doing or things you need to stop doing to invite the flow of the Spirit. I promise you, our Father wants to talk to us and He will talk to you. I cannot imagine that there is any other generation that He is more eager to talk to than you. But you, we, have to learn to hear what he has to say.”

When we have the Spirit as our companion and we are receptive to the promptings and recognize them for what they are, then we need to act. This requires us to have faith. Many times, a prompting may come that will take us out of our comfort zone. Other times we may receive a prompting that will require us to take a step into the unknown, with us not being able to see the outcome or see the Lord’s purpose in it. In these times, we need trust in our Heavenly Father, trust in the Spirit, and trust in ourselves. We need to act with courage and confidence. When Nephi was trying to get the brass plates from Laban, he showed great faith and courage. He said, “And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. Nevertheless I went forth...” Nephi did not know what he was going to do or how he was going to get the brass plates, but he trusted God and followed the Spirit. He went forth and he acted. I believe that our own faith, courage, and confidence will grow and develop as we consistently act on spiritual promptings.

In Alma 29:9 it says, “I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.”

This scripture has always been a favorite of mine. Alma is describing the source of his happiness, and it comes from being an instrument in the hands of God in serving others. We all can be instruments in God’s hands in fulfilling his purposes.

I love music and when I hear beautiful music, no matter what type or genre, I am moved. I am often amazed at the musical talents that people have. In order for a master musician to be able to make beautiful music, they must first have an instrument that is in tune. The best guitarist or the best pianist could not make beautiful music if their instruments were not in tune. It doesn’t matter how great of a musician they are. But with an instrument that is finely tuned, the beautiful music can be played by the master and enjoyed by others.

This same principle applies to each of us as we, like Alma, must strive to be instruments in the hands of God. The more finely tuned we are, the better God can bless the lives of others through us. Some of things we can do to assure that we are a finely tuned instrument in God’s hands include: reading the word of God, praying, fasting, serving in the temple, expressing gratitude, serving others, serving in church callings and repenting when we fall short.

I would like to like to share a story of James and Drusilla Hendricks. They are my great, great, great, grandparents. They were a young married couple when they joined the church in 1835. They gathered with the saints in Missouri and settled in Clay county. In Missouri at that time, there was a lot persecution and conflict between members of the Church who were gathering there and the other settlers. In one such conflict which has been called the Battle of Crooked River, James Hendricks was shot in the back by the mob and was paralyzed from the neck down.It was only two days after this, that the Governor of Missouri, Lilburn Boggs issued his infamous executive order stating that "the Mormons must be treated as enemies and must be exterminated or driven from the State.”

The young Hendricks family sold what they could and left their home and their farm in Missouri. They crossed the Mississippi river into Quincy Illinois where they found shelter in a temporary dugout home. Within a few weeks of arriving in Quincy, they ran out of food and faced starvation. In her own words Drusilla said, “I had one spoonful of sugar and one saucer full of corn meal. I made much of the meal and put the sugar on it and gave it to my children. That was the last of the eatables of any kind we had in the house or on the earth. We were in a strange land among strangers. I went to work and washed everything and cleaned the house thoroughly as I said to myself, If I die, I will die clean.”

Not long after, they were visited by a neighbor, Rueben Allred. He had a feeling that the Hendricks family was out of food and was prompted by the spirit to bring them a sack of flour. Because of this, the family was able to survive. The lived sparingly for another 2 weeks, but eventually found themselves again in the same condition. They had nothing and were on the verge of starvation, yet again.

As she had done before, Drusilla decided to wash and clean their home, and then wait to die. She was just finishing cleaning the doorstep when another neighbor, Alexander Williams, came with 2 bushels of meal on his shoulders. He said he was busy working on his own crops when the spirit spoke to him saying, “Brother Hendricks’ family is suffering.” He immediately dropped everything he was doing and came running.

Brother Allred and Brother Williams were instruments in the hands of God. They lived worthy of the Spirit, they were receptive to the promptings, and most importantly, they acted on the spiritual promptings they received. The Hendricks family was provided for and preserved in their most critical and trying time.

Elder Rasband said, “The Lord knows the needs of all His children—and He knows who is prepared to help. If we let the Lord know in our morning prayers that we are ready, He will call on us to respond. If we respond, He will call on us time and time again.”

I have been trying to make a habit of praying for opportunities where I may be able to give service to someone in need. I have found that when I consciously focus on seeing the needs of others and rendering service, I receive promptings to serve. Often times, they are small acts of service, and may seem insignificant, but I know that when I act on these promptings to serve others, it makes a difference, not only in the lives of others, but it makes a difference in my own life. It helps my heart to change and to become more like the Savior. I also believe that as we consistently act on the spiritual promptings we receive, our capacity to receive and recognize spiritual promptings is enhanced. We are able to be better instruments in the hands of God.

President Thomas S. Monson said, “The sweetest experience I know in life is to feel a prompting and act upon it and later find out that it was the fulfillment of someone’s prayer or someone’s need. And I always want the Lord to know that if He needs an errand run, Tom Monson will run that errand for Him.”

There is a young man in the Laie Park YSA ward who just recently got baptized. His name is Kyle Geroski. He shared with me a story that led him along his conversion path. Kyle was living in St. Louis Missouri. He had always felt in his heart a desire to do good and to serve others. But the environment he was in was not conducive to his desire. He wanted to change the path he was on and felt a prompting that he needed to leave his family and friends in Missouri. He acted on the prompting and made the decision to move to Hawaii to be with his Brother Dustin, who had joined the Church a few years earlier and was attending BYU-Hawaii. Dustin also happens to be the Ward Mission Leader for the Laie Park YSA ward.

Soon after arriving in Hawaii, Kyle had his first lesson with the missionaries. During the discussion, he shared how he seemed to have always known what was right in his heart, but how it seemed to be in conflict with his surroundings and what his friends were pursuing. The missionaries taught him about the light of Christ, and how it is given to us that we may know right from wrong. Learning about the light of Christ was something new and intriguing to Kyle. After that first discussion, he prayed that he could have a greater understanding of what the light of Christ is.

That evening, Kyle was walking down the street with a friend when they came across a gentleman taking out his trash. As it turns out, this gentleman was Elder Tanner, a service missionary serving here at BYU–Hawaii. They greeted Elder Tanner and talked with him briefly. Then Elder Tanner turned to Kyle and said, “I have something in my heart that I would like to talk to you about. Have you ever heard of the light of Christ?” He then proceeded to teach Kyle about the light of Christ. It was the very knowledge that he had been seeking and praying about just a few hours before. It was a testament to Kyle that the Lord hears and answers prayers. This experience solidified his desire to continue the missionary discussions and was instrumental in his decision to be baptized.

The Lord knew Kyle was seeking guidance and answers. The Lord also knew that Elder Tanner had the answers and was prepared to act. The prompting was given and Elder Tanner acted and was an instrument in the hands of God in fulfilling his purpose. Kyle was baptized last month, on his 22nd birthday.

I would like to share a personal experience of being on the receiving side of love and service that came as a result of others acting on spiritual promptings.

About 8 years ago, I remember being called into a doctor’s office. My 7-year-old daughter Anuhea had an operation and we were back at the hospital for a post-operation checkup with her doctor. I felt a somewhat ominous feeling as the doctor asked to see me in her office. I honestly can only remember 3 words of what the doctor said. Those words were: malignant, tumor, and cancer. I sank deep into a feeling that can only be described as hopeless. This feeling increased along the long drive home. Being the only person outside of the doctors to know, I felt alone and in a dark place. When I arrived home, I shared the news with my wife and we wept together. It felt as if our whole world was turning upside down.

Later that night, I received a phone call from one of my best friends, who now lives on the mainland. We hadn’t spoken for a few months, but he felt prompted to call me. About 15 seconds into the conversation, he sensed something was wrong and asked if I was alright. I shared with him the news we had received earlier that day. He expressed his love, concern, and support for our family and he listened. It was nice having friends and family that mourned with us and comforted us as we stood in need of comfort.

That first night, the hopeless feeling I was experiencing continued. I felt mental anguish and pain that I had never experienced before. It literally felt like someone was sitting on my chest. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. It was even hard just to breath. I had a testimony of the Plan of Salvation and I knew that God loved us. I had faith and trusted that this life experience would eventually be a blessing to our family, but I still felt pain and hopelessness.

Early the next morning I received another call from this same friend. He had received a prompting during the night. He asked if it was alright if he did something for my daughter on social media. I agreed, and he organized a special fast. He set it up as a Facebook event, created a flyer, and set a date for the fast, which was about 10 days away. He shared it with friends on social media and invited them to fast and to share the event with others. The day came and there were hundreds of people fasting and praying for my daughter. Her name was on the prayer roll of temples around the world. I remember even receiving messages from people saying things like “We don’t know you or your daughter, but we want you to know that our family will be praying and fasting for her.”

With the united faith, prayers, and fasting of so many people, along with spiritual promptings and priesthood power, my daughter and my family experienced the miracle of healing. We still went through the prescribed treatment of chemotherapy and multiple surgeries, but we looked at it differently, not as a trial that we had to endure, but as a blessing that would help us to become more like our Savior. So many of these blessings we received at this time were a direct result of people acting on spiritual promptings.

What I didn’t learn until many years later is how this experience had a positive effect on my friend. He was lifted in a very difficult and trying time for him and his family. He had been praying for comfort and answers himself. He was seeking to live more like the Savior. By acting on the promptings he received, he was not only able to bless my family, but he experienced a lasting change in his own heart, which continues to this day.

A few days before the fast, our stake presidency visited our family and ministered to us. I know that their visit was also a result of acting on spiritual promptings. They were inspired to share with us scriptures and prophetic quotes which seemed to be exactly what we needed to hear. I was so grateful the Lord loved us and sent these brethren to our home. He prompted them to share the words that lifted us in our time of need. The darkness we were experiencing was replaced with light and understanding, the questions that we had were answered, and the pain and sorrow that we felt was replaced with love and joy. But, most importantly, hope was restored.

Now 8 years later, the whole experience has been one of the greatest blessings in our family. I do not know if we could have experienced the growth that we did without going through this trial together. But what I do know is that the Lord made our journey better by giving spiritual promptings to so many people around us. We were loved, supported, and blessed throughout the entire experience. Our hearts were not only deeply touched, but our hearts were changed forever.

In closing I would like to encourage each of you to live worthy of the spirit and to pray each day that you may be able to give service to someone in need. That you may be able to recognize the spiritual promptings in your life, and that you may have the faith, courage, and confidence to act on those promptings. That you may be an instrument in the hands of God in fulfilling his purposes. I want to testify that as we act on the spiritual promptings that we receive; we will bless and change the lives of others. Our own lives will be blessed and we will become more like our Savior.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.