Who Can Receive Inspiration from the Spirit? You Can
Thank you. I want to use the time as effectively and efficiently as we can today, but I want to take just a minute and get to know you today if we can, so if you’ll humor me and just respond to this and stand up to tell me who you are for a minute.
How many of you grew up primarily outside of the United States? Would you stand up? Thank you very much. How many of you in the United States but outside of Utah? Wow. All right, thank you. How many of you grew up in Utah but not in Salt Lake? All right. So everyone can play along. Who grew up in Salt Lake City? Still quite a few of you. Thank you. That’s interesting to know. I know that the primary source of your education is in your classes and in your assignments and things, but I really think that an educated person takes advantage of this kind of diversity and has the ability to listen and learn from each other. It really is the mark of an educated person to be a good listener and to learn from other people’s perspectives and backgrounds. I don’t know of a place where you can do that better than right here. It’s a wonderful opportunity that I hope you are taking advantage of.
How many of you are returned missionaries? Would you stand up? Wow, that’s wonderful. Congratulations. How many of you will have a mission call within the next year? Way to go. That’s great to see. Thank you. What else do I want to know—how many of you are married? Okay, I’m assuming the adults in the room, the teachers, are not playing along, but that’s okay. How many are engaged? All right. How many of you are hoping to be in the next couple of—oh, you don’t need to answer that. That would have been really bad if you had stood up and looked at someone and asked her to stand up, but we’ll do that another time. Maybe you even hoped to come and meet someone today, but we won’t do that to you today either.
I really appreciate you holding up your—I guess those are some sort of journals, learning journals? How many of you brought your scriptures? Can I just see how much we want to read from them and learn from them? Okay. Maybe we’ll refer to them and quote a few verses but not have you open them up as much. In fact, this is so out of place, but I just thought of an experience. I just this summer had a similar experience in Boston where I spoke to institute students in the Boston area. It was a similar site—maybe three or four hundred students who go to Boston College and Harvard and the other universities in the Boston area, and got to speak to them. Their fireside was on a Sunday evening, and we had a little more time. We got to speak for about an hour and half. I was just thinking about your journals and this experience, and then I asked how many were engaged. So let me just share this with you, even though it has nothing to do with anything else I am talking about.
I used to never tell this story. I need 15 minutes to explain this story, but I’m not going to take the time today—my wife and I actually originally met in the MTC. I know, you can make fun of me later. I was her MTC teacher, and she was a missionary there, and it was all appropriate. We never wrote, we never said anything, except I said to my sister once, “I met somebody that I just think maybe”—I mean, she was just so impressive to me—“that I think maybe I might have even met my wife.”
My sister said, “Really! Where?”
And I said, “She’s in the MTC.”
And my sister said, “Never talk to me again.” So I thought maybe I’d better not tell anybody else that then, and anyway I just kind of forgot about it. And then a little miracle happened where we actually re-met after our missions because of actually a miracle that happened that we re-met. And because we knew each other it was easy to start talking, and we ended up being married. But I used to never tell that story to people, because they would misunderstand that.
I had the opportunity a few years ago, just before being asked to be the administrator of Seminaries and Institutes where I had an interview, a group interview, where the executive committee of the Board of Education had me come in and, for about an hour, ask me a number of questions. So if you can picture this, there was a round table in the room, and four members of the Quorum of the Twelve were there, and a member of the presidency of the Seventy, and Sister Dalton and Sister Beck, and they were asking me questions. And I was, like you would be probably, pretty intimidated and not even sure why I was there. They didn’t even tell me, they just said, “Come talk to us.” Well, actually, they told me, but it was a little bit different than what it ended up being. Anyway, at the end, just as this little interview experience was ending, Elder Russell M. Nelson said, “By the way, how did you meet your wife?”
That was the last question I wanted to be asked in this group, because without the ability to explain that it was all okay—I didn’t want to just say, “Yeah, I was her MTC teacher.” So thinking quickly, I said, “We met in Provo.”
And he said, “Oh, were you BYU students?”
I said, “I was at the time.”
And he said, “What was your wife doing?”
And I said, “Elder Nelson, I’m trying really hard not to tell you that I was her MTC teacher.”
And he said, “That’s okay. All’s fair when it comes to finding a wife.”
So, in this experience in Boston I spoke for over an hour and a half, and for some reason told this story there, too, and I said I never tell that story and here I’ve told it twice in the last few months. But when the meeting was over I sat down, and on the stand was their Institute Council president—a young man who is a student there at Harvard and he was sitting there next to me and we were just talking about the talk and some things he had heard. And I said, “I’m really curious to see what you thought I was intending, the core of the message, and what did you hear.” And we were talking, and I asked him about his notes, and anyway he had a little notebook just like yours and he said, “Yeah, I did take some notes today.”
I said, “I’d be curious. What notes did you take today from all of that?” An hour and a half of speaking, he opened up his notebook and all it said was, “All’s fair when it comes to finding a wife.” That was the only note he had taken the whole day. So if you get nothing else out of this today . . . I don’t know what that means.
I have something more important to share with you, I think. I wanted to start—now that we’re well into it, I wanted to start. We had an interesting experience happen to us this last year that taught me something that I think is really significant for you to understand or to think about. We did a survey with our seminary students—thousands of seminary students, mostly in Utah but in other places—and we did a little test to see if they understood the basic doctrines of the gospel. And then we did a survey with that test. We did a survey to ask them their own level of belief of those doctrines and how they felt, whether they felt they were applying those doctrines and principles and whether they can explain them to someone else.
Now, if you were to be tested on your understanding, belief, application and ability to explain principles of the gospel, which one do you think you would score highest on? Let’s see if you’re like our seminary students. Okay, not on which principle, but on which one—on your ability to understand it, to believe it, to apply it, or to explain it. Believe it? That’s actually consistent, and you might all be different, but our seminary students scored themselves higher on belief even than their understanding. Because they might say, yes, I believe that there is a prophet on the earth, but then miss questions on what the role of a prophet is. And they also said they scored higher on belief than on application. For example, a lot of them said they believe in prayer—more than said “I am praying every day.”
One of the things that came out of that survey that was most interesting to me was those questions about belief. We had twenty different doctrines. And they were to grade themselves in the survey on a scale from one to five how strongly they believed that principle or doctrine, five being “strongly believe,” four being “believe,” all the way down to “I’m not sure if I believe that’s true.” And the questions were very straightforward, like, “I believe the gospel has been restored,” “Jesus Christ resurrected from the dead,” “The prophet receives revelation for the world.” Just statements of doctrine or of principle and whether or not they believed it.
And our seminary students, it was interesting—they responded very positively about their beliefs of those doctrines. In fact, it was 97 or something, high 90 percent on each of those basic doctrines that they said they believed or strongly believed those were true, except for one. One of them, the question was worded, “I can receive inspiration from the Holy Ghost.” And that was about 54 percent. But did you notice the difference in the question? The other one was, “I believe the prophet receives inspiration,” “I believe that Jesus suffered for our sins” or that He resurrected, “I believe.” This one was “I believe I can receive inspiration from the Holy Ghost.”
Now, I never majored in statistical analysis, but that seemed pretty obvious to me to say, wait, that question’s different. Is the response different because of the way you asked the question? Why don’t you go back and change the question to “The Holy Ghost inspires people,” “The Holy Ghost reveals truth,” or something like that. They sent the survey out again, and what do you think happened? Ninety-seven percent of the seminary students said, “Yep, I believe the Holy Ghost inspires people.”
Why do you think—and this isn’t really conducive to getting a lot of comments. I wish we had microphones so we could talk more—but if you want to respond I’m happy to listen and maybe for the cameras in other rooms, repeat your comments. But why do you think there’s a difference, a high percentage of students who say I believe the Holy Ghost fulfills his role, and a much lower percent believe that they personally can be inspired by the Holy Ghost.
[A student comments.]
To repeat your comment, they believe it happens but probably for other people. They’re not so sure that they have the ability to access that blessing. Do you think that’s true? Is that normal? Go ahead, please.
[A student comments.]
Okay, so this good sister said maybe they have felt it, they just haven’t recognized it. And I think that’s probably true. I think that’s a really good comment.
[A student comments.]
Okay, that’s a good comment. They simply don’t recognize it, or they don’t get the answer when they’re asking, so they don’t feel like they have that ability to do it. Thank you. One more comment.
[A student comments.]
That’s interesting. For those of you who couldn’t hear this comment, he said they believe these other principles of the gospel, which they have received testimonies of from the Holy Ghost, and so they’ve had those experiences, and yet they don’t recognize that that’s where that testimony came from. That’s an interesting comment.
Now, I want you to get away from the principle of the Holy Ghost for just a minute, and ask you if that’s true of other gospel doctrines and principles. Can you think of other principles of the gospel that you believe in but that sometimes—even though you may have faith in that principle or that idea, you lack hope that you personally can be blessed by that principle of the gospel?
For example, have you ever been sick and not asked for a blessing? I completely believe in priesthood power to heal people. I have seen it happen; I know the priesthood is real and that miracles happen in healing people. I am sure that it is true. And yet, sometimes I get sick and don’t ask for a blessing. Why not? I might be the only person in the room, but sometimes I think, “Well, I don’t deserve to be better. I’m supposed to be sick, because I…” or whatever funny thing you think. Right? Heavenly Father wants me to be sick, I don’t deserve His help, I’m not worthy of it, maybe I’m supposed to learn something, or I don’t want to bother somebody or for whatever reason—even though I have faith in the principle of the priesthood, sometimes I lack the hope that I can receive the blessings that I need to get better.
Can you think of other examples, other principles, where we believe in the principle but we maybe lack the hope for ourselves? If you were to ask seminary and institute students, I bet even people in this room, “Do you believe that Jesus suffered for our sins?” the vast majority will say yes. And if you ask, “Do you believe that you can be made clean, that you can be forgiven of your sins,” the number starts to drop a little bit. Now, I don’t want you to answer this out loud, but think about why that is, that we would believe in what Jesus performed as the Atonement, and lack the hope that we can be forgiven of our sins, and what the disconnect between those are.
Maybe just a couple of other examples.
[A student comments.]
Sometimes we have trials and we start to question why is this happening to me? When it’s somebody else’s trials you can see it, the big picture, and step back and know that Heavenly Father is helping them and teaching them. That’s an interesting one.
[A student mentions tithing.]
Tithing? Meaning that you believe in tithing, but when it comes down to actually making that sacrifice, sometimes our faith is tested.
[A student mentions marriage.]
Marriage? Is that true? I think it is. Actually, Sister Beck spoke to us—all of our seminary and institute teachers about a year and a half ago now. She told us, just in defense so that no one blames you for that comment, they can talk to Sister Beck about this. I thought this was a very insightful comment that you’ve made and that she made. She said that as she goes around the world, she meets with Relief Society sisters. And one of the groups that she meets with every time is young single Relief Society sisters, like young women in this room, right? And she’ll get little focus groups together and just ask them questions and try to understand their circumstance and how Relief Society can bless them. And one of the things she always asks is, to these young single Relief Society sisters, “Are you attending institute? Tell me about institute, or what is your experience? Why do you go to institute?” And they start a conversation about what they are preparing for in their lives and what they want out of life. And she said it’s apparent to her, and it’s young men as well as young women, that there are less and less young people, even in the Church, that believe they can have an eternal marriage.
Now, if you ask them, “Do you believe that the sealing power is available in temples?” they will say yes. But to ask you, and groups like you, “Do you believe you can have an eternal family, that you are the parent of, the spouse in,” there are less and less young people who believe that, maybe because of marriages they’ve seen, maybe because the confidence in themselves is lacking to be that partner, maybe in finding that person, or the ability in that person to be worthy of celestial marriage. That’s a reality that a lot of you are dealing with.
[Student says, “I think all of it comes down to a belief in yourself.”]
So even though we believe in Jesus, and we believe in the principles of the gospel, what we lack is belief in ourselves or faith in ourselves to access those blessings. Now, with that in mind, I think we would agree on that concept, unfortunately, on some level. But of all the things I could say to you today that I most want to say, is to bear my testimony to you that the gospel has been restored to the earth in these days to bless the people in this room.
I want you to think about the examples you just gave. Last year, when I started thinking about this thought, I studied the Doctrine and Covenants looking for this idea, and I came across this phrase, looking through the Doctrine and Covenants, that you’ll see often. It is “the kingdom is yours.” (See, for example, D&C 35:27) It says it a number of times in the Doctrine and Covenants, and most of the times when it uses that phrase, “the kingdom is yours,” it’s referring to the blessings of the Restoration, like the blessing of the gifts of the Spirit, or of the temples, or of the Atonement, or on and on. The blessings of the restored gospel—and it refers to as the Lord is speaking—the kingdom, and the blessings of the kingdom in the gospel, are yours, and it’s not, in most cases, referring to the president of the Church. It’s not referring to Joseph Smith; it’s referring to very average, ordinary members of the Church, when the Lord says, “I have blessed the earth with all of these things, with the gifts of the Spirit, with temples, with the Atonement, with the priesthood—with all of these blessings of the restored gospel. The kingdom of God is on earth, and it is yours—speaking to those of us who are very average members of the Church.
Heavenly Father didn’t give the world these blessings just for a select few people. He restored them to the earth because He loves the people sitting in this room. I even think it’s interesting, in the very first section of the Doctrine and Covenants when the Lord talks about the reason for the Restoration and calling a prophet, He uses the language, “that every man might” (verse 20). And then He starts to list the blessings of the Restoration that every single one of us can have access to.
Now, let’s talk about a couple of these specifically. If you have your scriptures, would you still turn here with me? If you don’t, we’ll just read a couple of verses. Would you turn to Moses chapter 4? Let me maybe, with the time we have, start with the most important one. And if this is all we get through, that’s fine, because here’s what I would like most of all to bear testimony of today. In Moses chapter 4, for those of you who don’t have scriptures, you can just follow along. This will be easy, I think. It starts this part of the story in verse 12, when Eve transgressed. Remember this whole experience? And she partook of the fruit and gave it to Adam. Even if you don’t have your scriptures open to verse 13, what’s the very first thing Adam and Eve do after they realize that they have transgressed? They make fig leaves to cover up their nakedness. By the way, who told them that they were naked? You want to think about an interesting role of Satan, look in Revelation chapter 12, verse 10, where it talks about the voice out of heaven crying salvation, and the power and authority of Christ to save God’s children, and then it uses a phrase that’s very interesting. It refers to Satan as the accuser before God night and day, saying just the opposite.
In the premortal existence, it seems that Satan spent his time talking to Heavenly Father, accusing us of all of our weaknesses and shortcomings, and telling Him that we would never be able to make it, that we would not love Him enough, not have enough faith, that we would sin, that we would falter, and night and day before the throne of God, Satan stood there accusing us, while Jesus was crying out salvation and power and authority and exaltation. When you hear the voice of the accuser, when you think you’re worthless and not good enough and can’t make it and that in this sense you’ve transgressed against God, it’s Satan.
Now there’s a good amount of guilt when we make mistakes so that we’ll want to repent and turn back to God. I’m not talking about that. But the kind that causes us to be discouraged and feel despair and want to give up and not have hope and deny the power of the Atonement—that is the voice of the accuser, night and day in our ears.
Now, with that in mind, they try to get some fig leaves and cover themselves up, and how well is that going to work? Not very well, right? What is the next thing that they try? Even if you don’t have your scriptures, you know this. Verse 14, they heard the voice of the Lord God as they were walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife went to hide themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And I don’t want to be light-minded about this, but just think about how funny that is. Here’s Adam and Eve, they’ve just transgressed, and they hear the voice of Heavenly Father calling out to them, and what do they do? They go and hide where? Behind a tree. So here’s Heavenly Father, wherever He lives on His throne next to Kolob, and He makes His way through His literally countless-to-us creations, and He can make His way all the way to this galaxy, this little speck of a solar system in all that He has created, and find this little planet and find His way to the Garden of Eden and say, “Adam.”
And Adam does what? He says, “Oh, no. Here’s Heavenly Father,” and jumps behind a tree. How’s that going to work? Do you think Heavenly Father said, “Huh. He’s not here. I guess I’ll come back later”? But what’s His question? “Where art thou?” In some of the versions it says, “Where art thou,” and in this one it says “Where goest thou?” But it’s not like “where did he go,” like he hid behind a tree and fooled him, right? It’s not “where art thou?” it’s “now that you’ve transgressed”—what’s the question? “Where are you going to go? Are you going to go and hide, make a fig leaf and try to cover yourself and jump behind a tree, or are you going to come and receive the help that you need?” Now you think about this. We can laugh at Adam and Eve, but we all do it. Right? When do you least feel like praying? When do you least feel like studying the scriptures or going to your religion class or even to Church? When you least feel like it is when you’ve just made a mistake and you may not consciously say this, but what are you trying to do? We’re trying to hide, and the world has created some really good fig leaves. Some of them are very expensive. We buy things, we go on vacations, we fill ourselves with busy-ness, rather than having a quiet moment when we need to reconcile ourselves with God. And those fig leaves will never cover us. In fact, Isaiah said if we don’t repent we will want mountains to cover us rather than standing before God, having not repented.
Remember Alma the Younger? When he realized his standing before God, he said he wanted to become extinct, banished both soul and body, rather than standing in the presence of God. (Alma 36:15) Can you imagine wanting to be erased, nonexistent, rather than standing before God in your sins? Do you remember just a few verses later, after he prays and calls upon God for mercy and remembers the Atonement and feels the power of forgiveness, do you remember his greatest desire? He said he thought he saw God on his throne with His angels and his soul did long to be there (verse 22). The difference between not having repented and of repenting is the desire of the individual to have a spiritual experience and to be in the presence of God. But before we repent, we don’t want Heavenly Father to notice us.
I actually had a young lady tell me once, “I’m not going to Mutual tonight.” I asked her why and she said, “Because we’re going to the temple.”
I said, “That’s okay. We’re not going to do baptisms for the dead. I know you’re working on some things. I know you’re trying to repent. But we’re just walking around Temple Square. Why don’t you come with us?”
And she said, “I can’t. The temple will probably fall on me.”
The temple is not going to fall on you. And then she actually said it this way—we don’t usually use these words, but it’s really what we’re doing. She said, “I don’t want God to notice me. Not yet.” So what is she doing? She’s hiding behind a tree until she could fix some things before she presents herself to Him. But what does Heavenly Father say to Adam? “Are you going to go and hide and cover yourself with things that will never work, will never cover you, or will you come to Me and get help?”
But just like all of the examples we use, we talk ourselves out of getting the help that’s available. We say things like, “But I knew better. I knew I was making the mistake in the moment I was making it. Heavenly Father can’t forgive me. I knew better before I did this. It’s not like I went ‘Oops, I didn’t understand, so I can now turn and repent.’ ” We talk ourselves out of believing that the Atonement was performed for us.
I bear testimony with all of my heart that Jesus Christ performed the Atonement because He loves the people sitting in this room. The Atonement was performed for you, and if you were the only person who ever sinned, it would have happened. And if you don’t believe that, you pray and ask Heavenly Father if that’s not true—that He loves you enough individually to send His Son to suffer for your sins and mistakes. I really believe that’s true.
In fact, if you go on in these verses—and I know a lot of you don’t have your scriptures, but I just want to show you really quickly, I think this is such an interesting idea. If you look over in verse 24 it says, still in Moses 4, “Thorns also, and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field.”
Everything I know I learned from students. I had a 15-year-old sophomore girl in my class one day teaching seminary. We were teaching the Old Testament and talking about how all things in the scriptures point us to Christ, and I asked my students, as they read the scriptures that year, to constantly ask themselves, “What does that teach me about Jesus?”
She came the next morning to seminary before school started, and said, “I was reading the scriptures like you asked us to, and I have a question. In verse 24, who was speaking?”
I said, “Well, that’s Jehovah, so Jesus.”
She said, like only a 15-year-old girl would say, “Did He know what he was talking about?”
I said, “Well, the fact that it’s Jehovah—I’m going to say yes to that one. I think He probably did. What do you mean?”
She said, “You asked us to think what that teaches us about Jesus, and I thought, ‘Thorns. How does that point me to Jesus? The crown of thorns that Jesus would wear.’” And then she said this, and I thought it was so profound: She said, “Did Jesus realize that He would literally wear the consequences of the Fall?” And then she said something like, “Oh, that’s silly. Never mind. I’m leaving.”
And I said, “Wait, wait,” as I’m trying to write down. “That’s really a beautiful thought. Thank you.”
She said, “Oh. Well, can I share something else with you?”
I said, “Absolutely.”
She said, “Look at verse 27: ‘Unto Adam, and also unto his wife, did I, the Lord God, make coats of skins, and clothe them.’”
Now you know the word Atonement is an English word that was created to teach an idea that’s a beautiful idea—at-one-ment—that when we reconcile ourselves with God we become one with Him again after we repent. But originally the word in the scripture, in Hebrew, was kaphar, or like Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement. And it literally means “to cover.”
What was Heavenly Father asking Adam? “You’ve transgressed, you’ve realized your nakedness before God, you’re ashamed, and so you have a choice. You can run and hide behind a tree, which will never work, and fill your life with busy-ness and whatever else and ignore this and hope it goes away, or you can come to Me and let the Lamb of God, My Son, cover you with His Atonement.”
Again, I bear testimony that the Atonement was made available because our Father in Heaven loves the people in this room and wants to forgive you. If there is anything I know about the character of Heavenly Father—and His characteristics and attributes are beyond my comprehension—but I know that our Father in Heaven has a loving and forgiving disposition. He wants us to come and be covered by the Atonement of His Son. And it was performed for the people in this room.
Now, you think about the other blessings of the gospel. I want to also bear testimony that they are also here for us, for you. Those of you who are worried about forming a celestial marriage, Heavenly Father can help you. He wants to help you and will help you do that. It’s not a question of having enough money or education, it’s a question of faith. Having a priesthood blessing is a question of faith. Paying tithing is a question of faith. All of the examples that we used, faith in the Lord and His ability to help us, and I bear testimony that His desire is to help us.
Now, because we have just a couple of minutes, let me share with you another quick story in the last three or four minutes, if I can. I was thinking of this this morning, and how much Heavenly Father wants to speak to us and help us. I really believe that He wants to help us and bless us and change us, and one of the ways He does that is through the Holy Ghost. President Eyring has said that when you feel the Holy Ghost, you can know with assurance that the Atonement is working in your life. This idea of recognizing the blessings and gifts of the Spirit, the inspirational promptings of the Spirit, is critical to our accessing the Atonement.
I just wanted to share with you this one little story, because I think sometimes we forget what a wonderful thing it is to try to live in tune with the Holy Ghost. When my wife and I were first married, we had a wonderful experience that really set our life on a course that’s blessed us. We had only been married about a week when we were invited by my parents to come and go tour Temple Square. And I know you’ve all been on Temple Square, so I thought to tell you this story this morning. As I walked into Temple Square, there was a man sitting. If you go on Temple Square, this north side of Temple Square with the North Visitor’s Center right there, and right in the middle, with the temple on this side and the Visitor’s Center on this side, there’s kind of a raised garden. There was a man sitting there who looked very out of place, but my parents and a few of my brothers and sisters and Christy, my wife, and I walked past, and I saw him. To just describe him a bit and give you a picture, he had shaved his head, but he had a long beard here, and he had a torn, greasy Harley Davidson shirt with chains all over, and Levi’s with these big, black boots. And all of that’s great, but he just looked different than all the missionaries running around, for example. He just looked out of place. And I saw him there and thought, “You know, I ought to go talk to him.” And I talked myself out of it, like we too often do, and I thought I’ve heard too many talks at EFYs and things, and I’m just imagining that, and I just kept walking. And every time I passed him, I thought, “You should go talk to him.” And after passing him three or four times—we were ready to leave—he was still sitting on the same place he had been for over two, maybe three hours. We were leaving Temple Square, getting into my parents’ van when the feeling came again, “Go talk to him.”
So I said, “I’ll be right back.” I didn’t even tell Kristi what we were doing. I just said, “I’ll be right back. Just a minute. I forgot something.” I went back in. He was still sitting there. I still remember walking up to him, thinking, “What am I going to say?” So I stuck my hand out and said, “Hi, I’m Chad.” And he stood up and said, “I’m Dennis.”
I said, “What are you doing here today?”
He said, “You really want to know?”
I said, “Yeah. Why are you here?”
He said, “Well, a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in a park in Florida. I was part of a motorcycle gang. I don’t really have a home; I just go around with my friends.” And basically what he described was going around causing trouble. He said, “We were eating in a park when two young men in white shirts and ties walked up and said, ‘Can we teach you about Jesus?’” And he said, “I thought that was pretty funny, so I got all my friends together from all over the park and said, ‘Come here. These guys want to teach about Jesus.’”
These were brave young missionaries. So they taught them the first discussion, and when they were done they said, “Would anybody like to know more?” and everybody laughed and walked off except for Dennis, who walked up to them and said, “Actually, I would like to learn more, but I don’t know how. I’m going to get on my bike and leave here in a minute. So thanks, but I guess this is the last time I will see you.”
And one of these two young men, who won’t know this probably until the next life, the blessing that happened because of this, pulled out a Joseph Smith pamphlet and said, “Well, maybe here’s something you could read as you ride around, that you’ll enjoy.”
He gave him the Joseph Smith pamphlet and Dennis left. He rode to the next town. That night he opened it up and read the Joseph Smith story, and was absolutely convinced that he wanted to know more. And on the back flap of the Joseph Smith pamphlet was printed the address of Temple Square. He sold his motorcycle, bought a Greyhound bus ticket, and came to Temple Square, got off the bus, walked to Temple Square and sat down and waited for someone to talk to him. You know all the missionaries running around over there—that tells you a little about what Dennis looked like, to sit there for three hours and nobody talked to him—waiting to know what to do next. So we got him the missionaries, and they started on some things, and the last thing I did really quickly was just to hand him my phone number and say, “Dennis, if you need anything, call me.”
About two weeks later, I got a phone call about 9:30 at night. It was Dennis, and he said, “I have no place to go. I tried to go live with my brother in San Francisco. That didn’t work. I’ve come back. I’m standing in downtown Salt Lake City, and I’ve got no place to go. Can I come live with you?” We’ve been married all of three weeks and I’m supposed to protect my little wife, and here’s Dennis, who by the way is about 6-foot-6 and very large, and I told you about him, and I said, “You know, I don’t know. Just a minute,” I said, “I’ll call you right back.”
I ran over to our bishop’s, who lived right behind me, and said, “What should I do?”
He said, “What does the Spirit tell you?”
And I said, “I think I’ve got to go get him.”
He said, “Okay, go get him.”
So I went back and got on the phone, and Dennis was at a pay phone—you know this has been fifteen or so years ago, back in the day when people actually used pay phones—and I got him on the pay phone and said, “Okay, Dennis, I’m coming to get you.”
He said, “Okay, I’m downtown. I’m on State Street, and by the way, there are some scary-looking people down here. Could you hurry?”
Anyway, I’m out of time, but we got to have Dennis come and stay with us, and find a place, and work through the missionary discussions with him, and watch him get baptized and change his life. The blessing that that was for our family, to start our family out with that experience. It has blessed us ever since.
What I want to tell you is that Heavenly Father wants to speak with you. He is speaking to you through the Holy Ghost every day, and most times when He does, He is inviting you to bless one of His children. There are people in this room that can use your love and support and help, and the Spirit can help you to do that. And when you respond to the Holy Ghost, you’ll bless yourself as much as anyone.
The blessings, the gifts of the Spirit, the blessings of the priesthood, of temples, and especially of the Atonement, are on the earth today. They have been restored through a prophet, because Heavenly Father loves you and wants to be a part of your life and wants to bless you. I bear testimony that that is true, that you’re individually known and loved by Heavenly Father. I know that is true. I know He wants to bless you, and I bear that testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.