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The Ones Who Listen

Jill Evans
May 28, 2024 11:15 AM

"I believe the Lord is speaking to each of us all the time, in as many ways as He can. What is He saying to you?"
It is a joy to be with you today, among friends old and new, and to feel the love and light that is in this room. Thank you. It is an honor to stand as a witness of God in any capacity, and today it is my privilege to share some of the truths that are written on my heart.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson recently told the story of a man who, following the guidance of the Spirit, knocked on an unknown door, found a family in need, and then served that family for years. The grateful recipient, a widowed mother of 10 “later wrote of her heaven-sent friend: ‘I often wonder if the Lord picked on you exclusively or if you were just the one who listened.’” [i] That phrase, “the one who listened,” speaks to me. Are you and I the ones who listen? Do we have ears to hear Deity?

A few years ago, I received a package in the mail from a friend who listens and quickly acts on promptings. That year, Lisa sent out dozens of Christmas ornaments with a prophetic message to “hear Him,” and I was grateful and excited to receive one. However, when I opened my package, I found a splintered gift; the ornament had been broken in transit. Rather than tossing the shards in the trash, I carefully glued the pieces back together, salvaging all I could. Each year, that imperfect but restored ornament reminds me to look to the Savior, who was bruised and broken for each of us, so that I can be healed. It reminds me to come to Jesus, though I am broken, because only He can restore my soul.

When we feel broken, sad, lonely, confused, or afraid, we can remember this beautiful truth, taught by President Russell M. Nelson: “Our Father knows that when we are surrounded by uncertainty and fear, what will help us the very most is to hear His Son. Because when we seek to hear—truly hear—His Son, we will be guided to know what to do in any circumstance. As we seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional.” [ii]

I believe the Lord is speaking to each of us all the time, in as many ways as He can. What is He saying to you?

Today, I’d like to briefly discuss three ways we can intentionally hear Jesus by heeding His authorized servants, worshipping in His holy house, and promoting peace in our personal interactions.

First, we can be intentional in our efforts to listen to authorized servants. The Lord, as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 1:38 taught that “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” I love our amazing, age-defying, courageous, and effort-exerting prophet! I sustain him and all of the other prophets, apostles and general leaders who serve with him. My life is immeasurably better as I listen and learn from them.

Since President Nelson started his 100th year on September 10th—his birthday was on the 9th—I have been daily studying his prophetic teachings. It started out as a 100-day personal challenge, but it evolved from there, and now I’m on my sixth round of his talks. I’ve been marinating in those words, hoping to tenderize my heart, listening to his voice, chasing down footnotes, and pondering. For me, heeding a prophet’s counsel is something like the concept of musical overtones. In music, “an overtone is a type of harmonic with a frequency higher than a sound’s fundamental frequency”

Practically applied, in high school choir I learned that, when singers are true to pitch and align their vowel shapes, overtones can gloriously ring, adding a shimmer and loft beyond the actual notes sung. Those of you who have experienced this know it is beautiful and it’s memorable when it happens. Similarly, I have learned that when I am aligned with God’s prophet on the earth, I experience a spiritual loft, richness, and resonance beyond my own efforts. Allow me to share one example.

One July morning in 2017, I was on my morning walk, studying the topical guide with its 57 subtitles and 2200 references to Jesus, because President Nelson (then President of the Quorum of 12 Apostles) had recommended it. In fact, he said he was a “different man” after doing so, and I wanted a similar experience, I wanted some of that. [iv] If this study could affect him at age 93 after years as an apostle, what could it do for me, with so much less wisdom? On that summer day, I came across this gem in Isaiah 25:8:
 “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.” I will always remember exactly where I was that day--on Barney Dairy Road in the sunshine-- because those words leapt off the page and they lodged in my heart. They were so beautiful, so personal: “swallow up death in victory, wipe away tears from. . .all faces” that I immediately committed the verse to memory, feeling the truth and power of that teaching wash over me with each repetition.

I read on: “And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” I felt the truth of that scripture in my bones. This is my God, my Jesus. I am waiting for Him, and He will save me.

I needed that scripture later that day to deal with a tragic loss, to help my children grieve, to support a missionary son. It was a real-time example of personal revelation, and I will never forget it. Isaiah’s verse provided peace then, and it has comforted me since on some of my hardest days. That study, along with many other efforts through the years, has taught me that prophets, apostles (and holy women, I would add) always point us to Jesus Christ.

I have learned that our elder brother Jesus is the Light and Life of the world, [v] sent by our loving Father in Heaven to bring us home. [vi] He speaks truth. [vii] He is Truth. He is the High Priest of Good Things to Come. [viii] He is merciful and powerful and perfectly aligned with the Father. I love Him. He is the God of the stunning solar eclipse, [ix] the God who miraculously healed my husband’s life-threatening brain bleed five years ago, [x] the God who ordained your vice president to exercise restored priesthood keys in modern-day Babylon. He is the One who saved three faithful men from an oven and another from lions, [xi] who sent chariots of fire to protect His servant, [xii] who healed a woman with an issue of blood, [xiii] who wipes away your tears, who goes before your face and is on your right hand and your left. [xiv] He stands with open arms and is often depicted with outstretched hands. [xv] You and I are related to this Jesus and share a noble lineage and heritage. No matter what tribe of Israel your blessings come through or who your earthly parents are, nobility courses through your blood because you are a child of God. I find this truth to be stunning. Little wonder that our prophet has urged us to remember and prioritize this core identity, child of God, along with those of child of the covenant and disciple of Jesus Christ above any other identifiers. [xvi] Truly, following the example and advice of a prophet of God has changed my life. I am certain it can change yours.

Listening to authorized servants is becoming increasingly important in a world filled with counterfeits and impostors. I recently read of an artificial intelligence pioneering researcher who said: “I’m excited about value pluralism [in AI]. Another way to put it is that there’s no universal truth.” [xvii] I saw your eyebrows raise. Mine did too. By contrast, Elder Gerrit W. Gong taught that “while generative AI may be quick to offer information, it cannot replace revelation or generate truth from God.” [xviii] He also warned against deep fakes intended to confuse. Indeed, for six years now, our prophet has pleaded with us “to increase [our]. . . spiritual capacity to receive revelation.” [xix]

He has also clearly taught that the restored Church of Jesus Christ is unique in its position, and it is distinguished by priesthood keys: “These keys authorized Joseph Smith—and all succeeding Presidents of the Lord’s Church—to gather Israel on both sides of the veil, to bless all covenant children with the blessings of Abraham, to place a ratifying seal on priesthood ordinances and covenants, and to seal families eternally. The power of these priesthood keys is infinite and breathtaking.” He continued: “Many other organizations can and do make your life better here in mortality. But no other organization can and will influence your life after death.” [xx] We can trust in our prophets because they have been authorized, by the Savior Himself, to exercise priesthood keys on our behalf. This authority is a distinguishing factor, a true differentiator from other sources.

President Nelson has also repeatedly taught about the importance of temples and our worship in them, and this is another way we intentionally seek to hear the Lord. In April, he referenced the Savior’s appearance in the Kirtland temple:

 “Jesus Christ then declared that He had accepted the temple as His house and made this stunning promise: “I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house.” [see Doctrine & Covenants 110:7]. This significant promise applies to every dedicated temple today—all, almost 350 of them. I invite you to ponder what the Lord’s promise means for you personally.” [xxi]

I love thinking about how the Savior will manifest himself to me, how I will see and hear Him in the temple. Several years ago, in the middle of a Rexburg January (some of you have been there and you know what that’s like), I traveled with my husband to a conference in Palm Springs. After a couple of days in the California sunshine, I felt like I had plugged directly into a power outlet. Making and keeping covenants is like that. Every time I attend the temple, I connect to the true Son, the Light of the World, and I come away rejuvenated, recharged, restored, and ready to face another day. It is even better than traveling to a sunny beach (though I love that too, and I see the Creator everywhere in our beautiful world). According to President Nelson, “making covenants with God is one of the greatest privileges our Heavenly Father and His Son give to us in this mortal life.” [xxii] Are you and I fully claiming those privileges? They include a “special kind of rest,” a special kind of love, and literal power from on high. [xxiii]

Indeed, President Henry B. Eyring has taught, “when you are on the right path, it will always be uphill, but Heavenly Father will always assist His children in their trials and tests on the covenant climb. [xxiv]

You may find this weird, but I think about that covenant climb when I work out in the morning. And whenever I run sprints, which isn’t every morning, but a couple of times a week, on my treadmill, I sing strains from Handel’s Messiah in my head. My favorites vary, but lately my favorite is the last chorus in the oratorio, captured so beautifully by John in Revelation, chapter 5.

Handel’s libretto uses a combination of verses 9 and 12: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain and hath redeemed us to God, to God by His blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.”

The temple helps us to understand who Jesus is: trustworthy, reliable, a victor over death. We gain insights into the quality of life we can expect as joint heirs with Christ, now as well as in the life to come. The temple also legitimizes change. I learned that in college, down the road, at BYU. In the Lord’s house, we become new creatures, known, and named, and we better understand who we truly are and who we can become.

Through decades of temple attendance, I have consistently experienced palpable peace, protection, purification, practical insights, and power for me and my family. I find calm and joy in God’s house, and I always leave lifted, more hopeful. Last August, I spent a sweet hour doing initiatory work in the Kansas City temple and connected with a temple worker there (previously a stranger to me) who helped me to see what I think a queen in Israel looks like. She was so lovely, so poised, so kind and clear in her teaching that I felt I was in the presence of an angel. When I thanked her for her example, she teared up and told me how much she needed to hear that praise on that day. Our service in the temple lifted both of us and is representative of my experience in temples through the years.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has taught that the Savior needs to recognize us when He comes again. [xxv] How will Jesus know we are His? I believe keeping our covenants is a true differentiator, something that will distinguish and identify us as faithful followers of Jesus, not just by how we dress but by who we are becoming. I believe this, in part, because I often hear Him most clearly in His holy temples as I am acting as a proxy for another to make sacred covenants and participate in sacred ordinances.

What if another differentiator of discipleship is being a peacemaker? Will there be enough evidence to convict us as His? I’m still working on this one, I confess. I can get passionate about my beliefs. But factions and ‘isms’ lead to schisms, and God will have a unified people. We hear the Prince of Peace best when we are quiet, so we need to create spaces where we can listen. The Savior taught, in Doctrine & Covenants 101:16: “Be still and know that I am God.”

Promoting peace and avoiding contention makes it more likely that we will receive personal revelation, and it influences others to hear Him as well. As we become more peaceable, our prophet has taught that we thwart the adversary and we will stand in starker and starker contrast to the angry, loud voices that shout in so many arenas.

In January of this year, I accompanied my husband to Merida, Mexico on a humanitarian trip. And I went with my husband and a handful of health care providers. One afternoon, we found ourselves on the patio of a humble family who shared a story of promoting peace. This is the grandmother (refers to a slide) of that family. A decade or so earlier, missionaries from the Church had been teaching in their area. Unfortunately, some untrue stories had started to circulate about the elders’ supposed involvement with the occult. And so, as a result, none of the local shopkeepers would sell them food. They couldn’t get groceries at the store, they could not purchase prepared food. I thought about the parents of those elders at home, praying for their safety. This woman we were visiting, though not yet a member of our faith, thought that that was deeply wrong. She had a little business selling food off of her patio, and she served the elders, despite threats and warnings from some of her neighbors not to do so. This led to the elders teaching this family the gospel; the mom, dad and (later) two daughters being baptized; this grandmother being cured from stomach cancer after a miraculous blessing; all of us enjoying a sweet, Spirit-filled hour together; and an impromptu collecting that resulted in enough money for this family to buy a needed car battery so they could return to church (since buses had stopped running in their little community on Sundays post-COVID). So many good things flowed from one mother’s simple decision to be a peacemaker.

Sister Patricia Holland reminded us that the gospel can and should be simple, that we shouldn’t wear Christianity “like a headache. ” [xxvi] I don’t know about you, but shouting, arguing, and contending can give me a headache. I think it certainly contributes to headaches for others. Instead, we can more frequently employ a “soft answer [that] turneth away wrath.” [xxvii]

This may not always feel natural—the natural man and woman is an enemy to God [xxviii] —but it is a reminder of Spencer W. Kimball’s admonition that we should be “distinct and different in happy ways.” [xxix] This is not, as Sharon Eubank taught, just slapping on a plastic smile; [xxx] it requires sincere efforts to purify our own motives and discipline our own words and behaviors. It makes sense that we will have a much greater and more sustained impact on those we love if we are long-suffering, patient, and kind. Others will be more likely to want to make and keep sacred covenants if we treat them with love and respect, if we are agreeable even when we disagree. This is at the heart of our efforts to help gather Israel, to find those who are willing to let God prevail in their lives.

I loved, loved, loved, Tamara Runia’s teaching in this regard: “Before we interact with a loved one, can we ask ourselves the question ‘Is what I’m about to do or say helpful or hurtful?’ Our words are one of our superpowers, and family members are like human blackboards, standing in front of us saying, ‘Write what you think of me!’ These messages, whether intentional or unintentional, should be hopeful and encouraging.

Our job is not to teach someone who’s going through a rough patch that they are bad or disappointing. On rare occasions we may feel prompted to correct, but most often let’s tell our loved ones in spoken and unspoken ways the messages they long to hear: ‘Our family feels whole and complete because you are in it.’ ‘You will be loved for the rest of your life—no matter what.’ Near the end of her talk, she offered these additional words of encouragement: “You and I? we can do this!” [xxxi]

I agree with Sister Runia. You and I? We can do this! Now is such a fabulous time to be alive! This college, this church, is better with you in it. We need you. I know that the Lord can do His own work—He’s perfectly capable. But he entrusts each of us with an opportunity to assist in His vineyard, and we are blessed for every effort. [xxxii] It’s a very uneven math equation. I believe our efforts to heed God’s authorized servants, to worship in His holy temples, and to promote peace within our personal circles can help us to hear Him more clearly and to prepare for His return.

I’ve heard Elder Holland say he has 10,000 reasons to believe. I do too, and you have given me more today. I am a lifelong practitioner, an ordinary member who can easily testify that I have been extraordinarily blessed because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know it is true. I know our Savior lives and loves us. We are led by a prophet of God. Everything in our loving Father’s plan is designed to help us, to bring us home.

I pray that we may open our eyes and our ears to the verities of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are all around us, about us, within us. God is speaking to each one of us. May we have ears to hear Him and the will to follow Him. May we be the ones who listen, I pray.

In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[i] Stevenson, Gary E. “Bridging the Two Great Commandments.” Homepage - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 7 Apr. 2024,

[ii] Nelson, Russell M. “Hear Him.” Homepage - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 5 Apr. 2020,

[iii] BYJU’S. “Overtones - Instruments, Explanation, Overtone Singing, Faqs.” BYJUS, 30 Nov. 2022,,other%20than%20the%20lowest%20pitch.

[iv] Nelson, Russell M. “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ Into Our Lives.” Homepage - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Apr. 2017,

[v] Mosiah 16:9.

[vi] Moses 1:39.

[vii] John 14:6.

[viii] Hebrews 9:11.

[ix] See Stevenson, Gary E. “Spiritual Eclipse.” Oct. 2017

[x] Lawrence, Liza. “You Just Got Your Life Back.” Wonders and Miracles podcast, Episode 69, 17 Feb. 2020, .

[xi] Daniel 3:14-30; Daniel 6:22-23.

[xii] 2 Kings 6:15-17.

[xiii] Mark 5:25-34.

[xiv] Doctrine & Covenants 84:88.

[xv] Mormon 6:17.

[xvi] Nelson, Russell M. “Choices for Eternity.” 15 May 2022.

[xvii] Marchese, David. The New York Times Magazine. Interview with pioneering researcher Yejin Choi. 3 Mar. 2024.

[xviii] Gong, Gerrit W. “Artificial Intelligence—Opportunities, Cautions, Church Guiding Principles.”, Accessed 13 May 2024.

[xix] Nelson, Russell M. “Revelation for the Church; Revelation for Our Lives.” Homepage - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Apr. 2018,

[xx] Nelson, Russell M. ““Rejoice in the Gift of Priesthood Keys.” Homepage - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 7 Apr. 2024,

[xxi] Nelson, Russell M. “Rejoice in the Gift of Priesthood Keys.” Homepage - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 7 Apr. 2024 ,

[xxii] Nelson, Russell M. “The Power of Keeping Covenants.”, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

[xxiii] Nelson, Russell M. (2024). Heart of the Matter. p. 203.

[xxiv] ‌Eyring, Henry B. “Helping Others on Their Way Home.”, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

[xxv] Holland, Jeffrey R. “Motions of a Hidden Fire.” Homepage - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 13 Apr. 2024,

[xxvi] Holland, Jeffrey R., and Patricia T. Holland. “A Future Filled with Hope.” Homepage - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 8 Jan. 2023,

[xxvii] Proverbs 15:1.

[xxviii] Mosiah 3:19.

[xxix] Kimball, Spencer W. “The Role of Righteous Women.” Homepage - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 2 Oct. 1979,

[xxx] Eubank, Sharon. “Turn On Your Light.” Homepage - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 23 Sep. 2017,

[xxxi] Runia, Tamara W. “Seeing God’s Family Through the Overview Lens.” Homepage - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 3 Oct. 2023, .

[xxxii] Mosiah 2:41.

About the Speaker

Jill Evans

Jill Leavitt Evans is originally from Orem, Utah. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Education and earned a Master of Liberal Arts degree in Management from Harvard. 

Sister Evans is the Student Services Managing Director at BYU-Idaho. She has loved serving in a variety of church callings including stake public affairs director, seminary teacher, choir director, ward and stake Relief Society president, Young Women’s president, and Primary president. She is currently serving as a Young Women advisor and organist in her ward.

Sister Evans and her husband, Gary, reside in Rexburg and have 5 sons, 1 daughter, their 6 wonderful spouses, and 12 adorable grandchildren.
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