Skips to main content

Tools After the Manner of the Lord

Jesus Garcia
March 19, 2024 11:15 AM

" [I}n whichever path we choose, God will give us 70 times 7 opportunities to learn forgiveness and meekness. In every path our Father will let us pass through tribulation, which He then will consecrate for our good. In each path we will experience confrontations and disagreements; enough to help us become peacemakers. We will have the opportunity to keep His commandments, and if we so do, live in a blessed and happy state. Blessed in all things, both spiritual and temporal. If we are covenant makers and covenant keepers, The route mattereth not. Christ can rescue us in any path. And so, an answer is not needed."
Thank you. Thank you choir members. Thank you Brother Decker. Thank you, Minami. That was a beautiful piece, and thank you for the years of becoming great musicians, to give us moments like that, where we can feel the Spirit. Thank you Ignacio—that was a beautiful testimony.

Good morning Ensign College. It’s great to be with you. Even from this spot. Thank you for coming to devotional. I have a testimony that attending events where the Spirit is invited helps us live in revelation.

Every time I get to meet some of you; or get to know some of you a little bit better, I go home and gleefully tell my wife Bryn all about it. She loves that I work here because she sees how happy it makes me.

Speaking to his disciples Jesus once said, “where two or three are gathered together in my name... there will I be in the midst of them.”

I dearly hope that each of us can feel our Savior’s presence with us today; after all, one of his names is Emmanuel--God with us. [1]

I pray that we will all be able to hear the enlightening and reassuring whispers of the Holy Ghost and receive the guidance, or the peace we’ve been pleading for.

About two months ago our oldest daughter was encouraged to participate in her 5th grade Science Fair. After weeks of thinking, she figured out what she wanted to do. She remembered that sometimes after the lights were off in her room, she could see sparks on her sheets. Since I got shocked in the lips many times when I kissed her good night, I knew the sparks were related to the static electricity created between her pajamas and her sheets. But the sparks didn’t happen every night, with every pair of PJs, or with every set of sheets. So, for her science experiment, she wanted to learn which fabrics created the most static electricity; which fabrics created the most sparks.

Bryn learned that we needed to buy an electrostatic field meter to measure the charge between the fabrics.

An electrostatic field meter, also called a static meter, is a measuring tool. It is used in the static control industry for non-contact measurement of electrostatic charge on an object. It measures the force between the induced charges in a sensor and the charge present on the surface of an object.

Now, I don’t know what that is. Or, I don’t understand what I just said. The only thing I understand is the red balloon (referring to a slide illustrating static electricity and a balloon).

Bryn and I had never taken an electrical engineering class. We never read a book, watched a documentary or even a single YouTube video about the subject. But, in order to help Gracie, we needed to buy that unfamiliar tool.

Bryn began shopping for an electrostatic field meter online. There was a wide range of prices: $238.00, $651.00, $1217.00. One of them was over $8000.00. We bought a static meter for $33.42.

When the item arrived, the instructions were not in English, Spanish, or Hungarian (which Bryn speaks). We didn’t recognize the alphabet it was written in. We had no idea what button to press, when to press it, or for how long. We also did not know WHEN to place the device on the fabric. If the instrument was a useful tool, we did not know it.

We tried a few different things, but the results were always the same. The same measurement came back for every fabric we tested. So, if by chance we were using the device correctly, it’s possible that the tool was not sensitive enough to measure the slight difference in the static charge caused by the different fabrics. It’s possible that the tool was not good enough for the job.

We sent the item back and figured out a different way to measure the static charge.

That experience reminded me of a true principle:

Tools are not very helpful if you don’t know how to use them.

In the October 2014 General Conference, Elder Richard G. Scott shared the following:

“Our Father in Heaven has given us tools to help us come unto Christ...”

He then referred to Prayer, Scripture Study, Family Home Evening, and Temple Attendance as some of those tools. Prophets and apostles in these latter days have also referred to principles like faith, repentance, and revelation as tools or instruments to bring about Lord’s purposes. [2]

In the experiences I will share with you, you will see that I didn’t know how to use the spiritual tools I possessed and that my tools needed to be better for the stage of life I was in.

At the end of my 2nd winter semester in college my bishop asked if I was moving away for spring and summer. I was. He asked me if I knew where I was going. I overshared, as I am known to do. I told him that I had narrowed my choices to 2 apartment buildings. They both met the most important items in the list I had made. Both buildings were affordable and close to the part of campus where all my classes were. Both buildings had only 3 people per apartment, and both wards had more girls than boys. I told him that I had prayed about it; and clearly, I was studying it out in my mind, but I wasn’t getting an answer. Then without realizing it, my bishop taught me one of the most important lessons for my life. He said: “Have you asked the Lord where you can be of the most service to Him?” I had not. I didn’t know that that question was one of the most important components of prayer.

Last winter Elder Bednar taught us this: “You don’t pray to tell God what you want or what you need. You pray to find out what God wants for you. Big difference .” [3]

Over two thousand years ago the Savior himself taught the same thing when he spoke to the multitudes and said:

“Be not ye therefore like unto the heathens: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness ; and all these things shall be added unto you.” [4]

In April 2007 Elder Richard G Scott taught that prayer could be improved. Said he:

“A key to IMPROVED prayer is to learn to ask the right questions. Consider changing from asking for the things you WANT to honestly seeking what He wants for you.” [5]

During our last general conference President Nelson invited us to improve our prayers to a celestial level. He said,

“As you think celestial... You will want to pray more often and more sincerely. Please don’t let your prayers sound like a shopping list.” [6]

In April 2007 Elder Henry B Eyring gave a clear and simple example of how we could pray. I quote,

“A morning prayer... to know what we should do for the Lord, can set the course of a day.” [7]

Now, I attended, watched, or read each one of those general conferences, I heard those words. I had those scriptures memorized, but even then, for many years I used the tool of prayer as a cosmic vending machine, as a shopping list. I was only seeking my will.

I was very young in the gospel, and so in me was the prophecy of Isaiah fulfilled which said: “By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive” [8]

However, God is merciful unto us. He hears and answers our imperfect prayers when we are doing the best we can. Zenos knew this. He said “O God, thou hast been merciful unto me, and heard my cries. Thou didst hear me because of my sincerity.

Back to my story; I hearkened to my Bishop’s advice. I asked the Lord where I could be of the most service to Him. It occurred to me that I should attend the wards I was evaluating. As I was leaving the chapel of the first ward I visited, I overheard a student worriedly tell his bishop that the Gospel Doctrine teacher did not show up, and there was no one to teach the lesson. I approached them and asked: “What lesson are you covering today”? They showed me the lesson in the manual. I then said, I’m a Gospel Doctrine teacher in my ward. I taught that lesson last week. If you need help, I can do it. They accepted my offer and I moved to that ward shortly after.

Me and that student, Adam, became good friends. He asked me to go with him to another ward in the fall. There I was assigned to home- teach a girl named Stephanie. She was a spiritual giant. I did my best to serve her. She came to trust me enough to ask for a blessing once. We became good friends and stayed in each other’s lives. A few years later, Stephanie felt the spiritual impression that she should introduce me to her childhood friend, Bryn.

Seeking to do our Father’s will, and getting what we need are not mutually exclusive. It’s not this or that.

When we strive to get what we want, our hard work usually pays off. We get the thing we want.

When we strive to do the Lord’s will, we grow spiritually, we learn, people in need are blessed, and the Lord gives us the thing we need or want. We get everything.

I have a testimony that our Father in Heaven will give us what we stand in need of as we pray to know how we can best serve Him.

The second tool I would like to speak about is the tool of spiritual discernment. It’s the tool that helps us to Hear Him.

When I had about 18 months left in my military contract, I was able to attend institute classes twice a week. I loved institute . I felt a complete kind of happiness there. I still remember a quote from one of the videos the instructor shared. It was about Parley P Pratt. The quote went something like this. “And so, he embarked on a mission that would only end with his life.” Oh man, my heart was fired up. But I didn’t know that was the Spirit.

I told my parents that I wanted to serve a mission. My mom was kind in her disapproval, asking me why. “Why do you need to go? That doesn’t make sense to me.” My dad was more direct. “You shouldn’t go. You already wasted 4 years in the Marines. You need to go to college. It’s a waste of time.”

Their responses were normal for people who had never felt what we have felt. I never held it against them.

With that bit of opposition from my family, I thought “Well maybe I shouldn’t go on a mission”

A few months later, I attended a family home evening meeting led by a senior missionary couple at a Marine base in Okinawa Japan. After the meeting, I stayed to help the missionaries put chairs away. At one point and out of nowhere the sister missionary asked, “Have you ever thought about serving a mission?” Again, I overshared. I told her my life story and that I wanted to serve a mission, but that meant straining my relationship with my dad. Also, I was already going to be 4 years late attending college and a mission would make me 6 years late.

She stood in silence for about 5 seconds and then said “Well... maybe you can go to college for a year, and then you can go on a mission”. I heard her words again on my mind, “I can go to college for a year, and then I can go on a mission”

Allow me to borrow from Joseph Smith:

Never did any idea come with more power to the heart of man, than this one did at this time, to mine. [9]

It felt like a light turned on inside my brain. I thought the woman was a genius. It was a brilliant idea. I made it my plan. And I still didn’t know that was the Spirit.

I completed my commitment to the United States Marines. I enrolled in community college and prepared for a mission. As time went by my relationship with my dad suffered. Every phone conversation ended in disagreement. We had always had a beautiful friendship. After one conversation, I was sad and tired of arguing. So, I said to myself. Well, m aybe I shouldn’t go on a mission. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and a thought came. I saw myself as a 27-year-old who had not served a mission. My head was down. I looked sad. I could feel that I was full of regret and that I would walk with that regret for the rest of my life. I opened my eyes and determined that I would not live with that regret.

But I didn’t know what had just transpired. In his infinite mercy, Heavenly Father saw fit to show me a 3-second vision to help me avoid the biggest mistake of my life.

But I didn’t know the gift that I had received, I didn’t know the infinite mercy I had just experienced.

Elder Bednar said: “the vast majority of the time you are being influenced by the Holy Ghost, and you have no idea that it is happening.” [10] Well, that was me 100% of the time. I never knew when he was speaking to me.

Never knowing when our Father is speaking to us can quickly lead us to think that He never answers. It makes us more susceptible to experience doubt, which I did many times. It makes us less capable of bearing powerful testimony, less capable to help others come unto Christ; unable to do His will.

Our dear prophet said the following:

“It has never been more imperative to know how the Spirit speaks to you than right now. I renew my plea for you to do whatever it takes to increase your spiritual capacity to receive personal revelation.

“Doing so will help you know how to move ahead with your life, what to do during times of crisis, and how to discern and avoid the temptations and the deceptions of the adversary.” [11]

Elder David P. Homer noticed that sometimes answers are slow to come, because an answer is not needed. [12]

I pondered this, and I think I have a way to explain why sometimes an answer is not needed.

I used a mapping tool to figure out the best route from Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City to the Salt Lake Temple.

The tool gave me three walking routes, all of which were the same distance and travel time.

The three driving routes were also essentially the same distance and travel time between each other.

And the same thing happened when I searched the biking routes.

So, If I’m at Pioneer Park on my bike; an answer is not needed if I want to know which of the three biking routes I should take to the Temple. They all lead me to the temple, with almost identical effort.

The choices in front of us are infinite. Do I become a doctor, an instructor, or a train conductor? Do I go back to the workforce now, or do I incur more debt to get more education? Do I keep working at Ensign College, or do I build my own business? Should I apply for an OPT internship or should I go back to my homeland when I graduate?

If our spiritual destination is to return to our Father in Heaven, and we are willing to keep his comandments which he has given us and are willing to comfort those that stand in need of comfort and are willing to take Christ’s name upon us, and use this our life as a time to prepare to meet God, then whether we go to the north or to the south, to the east or to the west, it mattereth not. [13]

Because in whichever path we choose, God will give us 70 times 7 opportunities to learn forgiveness and meekness. In every path our Father will let us pass through tribulation, which He then will consecrate for our good. In each path we will experience confrontations and disagreements; enough to help us become peacemakers. We will have the opportunity to keep His commandments, and if we so do, live in a blessed and happy state. Blessed in all things, both spiritual and temporal. If we are covenant makers and covenant keepers, The route mattereth not. Christ can rescue us in any path. And so, an answer is not needed.

In my life, the Lord allowed me to choose the wrong field of study, to go through heartbreak, to feel disappointment. He knew those experiences would make me more humble and poorer in Spirit.

This scripture became very dear to me when I had big choices before me "fear not, little flock; do good; (be a good girl or a good boy as Elder Bednar said). Let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.

Elder Scott said, “When you are living worthily and your choice is consistent with the Savior’s teachings and you need to act, proceed with trust. … God will not let you proceed too far without a warning impression if you have made the wrong decision.” I know that to be true. The warning impressions will be strong.

I’ll finish my story: about 2 months into my mission, I got a letter from my dad. He expressed that he now believed it was important to make God our number one priority . In his next letter, he told me he had started reading the bible and that he learned that husbands needed to be kind to their wives. The following month he told me he started attending his church. When the month of March came, my dad took two flights plus a taxi ride and appeared in Weslaco, Texas, to be with me on my Birthday—on my mission!

I got to serve a mission for the Lord. Because of it, my dad became a better man. My relationship with him remained intact. I was able to attend college, and I met a girl, who didn’t mind marrying a guy that was six years older than her.

One of the last things the resurrected Lord told his disciples was “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.” [14]

Each of us will leave Ensign College as trusted and capable disciples. We will go into every corner of America and into all the world-literally.

If you ever feel stuck, remember that our mandate is the same; to share the good news of Christ to every creature. Elder Holland said: “The needy are still out there—the poor and the weary, the discouraged and downhearted, multitudes who are “kept from the truth because they know not where to find it. They are all out there with feeble knees, hands that hang down. They can be rescued only by those who have more and know more and can help more.

“Where are they?

“They are everywhere, on our right hand and on our left, in our neighborhoods and in the workplace, in every community and county and nation of this world. Take your team and wagon; load it with your love, your testimony, and a spiritual sack of flour; then drive in any direction. The Lord will lead you to those in need.” [15]

When I was a child, I spake (or prayed) as a child, I understood (or heard) as a child, I thought as a child: But when I became a man, I put away childish things. [16]

I pray that each of us will have a greater desire to upgrade every spiritual tool at our disposal, so that the purposes of God shall be accomplished and that we might have joy.

In the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

[1] Immanuel, Guide to the Scriptures. Gospel Library

[2] Scott, Richard G., “’Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority” Ensign, November 2014, 93-94.

[3] David A. Bednar, “Living in Revelation” (Devotional address delivered at Ensign College, Salt Lake City, UT, Jan. 31, 2023).

[4] Matthew 6: 8, 25, 31-33

[5] Scott, Richard G., “Using the Supernal Gift of Prayer,” Ensign,  May 2007 8.

[6] Nelson, Russell M., “Think Celestial!” Ensign or Liahona, November 2023.

[7] Eyring, Henry B., “This Day,” Ensign, May 2007. 90.

[8] Isaiah 6:9

[9] Joseph Smith History 1: 12 (Paraphrased)

[10] Bednar, David A., “Living in Revelation”.

[11] Nelson, Russell M., “Hear Him,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2020, 88-92.

[12] Homer, David P., “Hearing His Voice,” Ensign, May 2019, 43.

[13] Doctrine and Covenants 80:3

[14] Mark 16:15-16

[15] Holland, Jeffrey R., “Songs Sung and Unsung,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 49-51.

[16] 1 Corinthians 13:11

About the Speaker

Jesus Garcia

Jesus Garcia was born and raised in the hills of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where he played soccer in the streets every day. At the age of 14 he and his family migrated to the United States. Two years later he met the missionaries and was baptized and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Following high school, Jesus served 4 years in the United States Marine Corps, earning the rank of Sergeant.

Upon completing military service and inspired by the accounts early Church missionaries like Parley P. Pratt, Jesus served a full-time mission in the great Texas McAllen mission.

After his mission, he attended Brigham Young University, earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He has since worked in various capacities in the software development and IT industry for over 15 years.

He is thankful for the growth opportunities he’s received as he has served in the Church as a teacher, Young Men president, elder's quorum president, missionary, and a minister to his neighbors whom he loves.

Jesus finds joy eating and laughing with his wife, Bryn, and their five creative little children, ranging in age from 11 years old to 7 months old.
Close Modal