Friday, August 21, 2009

Finding Strength in Challenging Times!

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

Finding Strength in Challenging Times!, by Elder Allan F. Packer
Of the Seventy

As I prepared to write on this talk, I noticed that Elder Packer used an exclamation point in his title. I'm happy to report that I was actually excited to see such a mark. I mention this because I'm one of those terrible people who becomes easily annoyed when exclamation points are used too often (especially when many are grouped together, e.g. !!!!!!). This simple-looking mark seems shrouded in mystery to me—is it conveying anger? excitement? surprise?

Perhaps the main reason I was excited is because I'm trying to break free from my strict punctuational standards and be more accepting of those who are floridly exclamatory, even by using the once-deemed-wretched marks myself! (See, I just did it! Oh no, there one is again! What's happening here?!)

Shall I finally address the message?

In speaking of ways of "developing a deep personal conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ and knowing how to receive revelation," Elder Packer reminded me a talk of Elder Callister that I really enjoyed (from October 2007, Knowing That We Know); his charge:

We must know—and know that we know.

How do we gain such knowledge? From the Holy Ghost (see D&C 8:2).

Elder Packer used an example from his football days to illustrate the awareness we need to have to spiritual promptings:

We need to be acquainted with the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and we need to practice and apply gospel teachings until they become natural and automatic.

As a young man, I was taught that I only needed to make certain decisions once, and that when tempted to go against the commandments, I would not have to make up my mind under pressure because I had already decided to do what was right.

I remember feeling the power of this teaching and following the counsel. However, I was surprised at subsequent crossroads that the courage to stand by that already-made decision was harder than I thought it would be. Elder Packer reminded me that by making right decisions and following through with past decisions, that the crossroads don't seem to be major intersections anymore, but, rather, a small dusty path leading off of a major highway—righteousness can become natural and automatic!

Now, turning to promptings of the Holy Ghost and their influence on the development of testimonies and the course of conversion, Elder Packer points out the significance of spiritual communication in:

While testimonies can come as dramatic manifestations, they usually do not. Sometimes people think they need to have an experience like Joseph Smith’s vision before they gain testimonies. If we have unrealistic expectations of how, when, or where answers come, we risk missing the answers which come as quiet, reassuring feelings and thoughts that most often come after our prayers, while we are doing something else. These answers can be equally convincing and powerful.

I love the guidance and direction that comes from the Holy Ghost. It is through this guidance that "we will receive strength, comfort, and help to make good decisions and act with confidence in troubled times."

There are many things that are undeserving of exclamation points. The personal direction from our loving Father in Heaven, as communicated through the Holy Ghost, is a marvelous gift that is worth exclaiming about!

1 thought:

Dad said...

Great thoughts Clark!!!!!

Any word on David's picture?????