Tuesday, December 11, 2012

An Unspeakable Gift from God

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

An Unspeakable Gift from God, by Craig C. Christensen
Of the Presidency of the Seventy

There is a twenty-minute period each week that I really look forward to. During the last twenty minutes of our church meetings, I get to sing with the Primary children! We have a lot of fun together, and after almost three hours at church, the children are understandably wiggly. However, every once in a while, something different happens.

This is an especially fun time or year for singing time because we get to sing Christmas music. A few weeks ago, we unexpectedly had twice as much time as usual. When everything I had planned was finished, we sang the children's favorite Christmas songs. After I drew their name from a bucket we use, one of the children chose "Silent Night."

Knowing this song to be slower and of a different feel from the others we were singing, I think I gave a quick introduction, asking the children think about the words as they sang. The result was amazing: it felt like we were there beside the manger singing to the newborn Christ child!

After the song ended, there was a gentle quietness in the room that I stayed for a moment. When appropriate, I asked the children if they had felt something special, and when they didn't shout out answers, but quietly nodded their heads, I knew that they had. I then told them that the special feeling was the Holy Ghost letting them know that Christmas is special because we remember Jesus' birth and all He did for us.

The quiet feeling lasted for a moment longer. Maybe we should have finished there, but we ended up finishing the meeting by singing "Once There was a Snowman," which invited the wiggles and giggles right back into the room.

Elder Christensen shared an experience that I hope happens in our family. While visiting a newly-built temple open house, his six-yr-old son felt the Holy Ghost in such a powerful way that he didn't understand what was happening. Kneeling beside him, Elder Christensen played his dad role splendidly by explaining that the feelings were the Holy Ghost, and testifying why they were felt.

A temple is being built near our home, in Ft. Lauderdale. We visit the grounds periodically, and have seen it progress from an empty field to a temple-looking building. Here's what it looked like on our visit last month:

We're excited to have "our temple" being built so close to home! Our children are amazing in that they don't complain when we take three-hour trips to Orlando to visit the temple, or one-hour trips to Ft. Lauderdale to see the construction site (they do get to visit IKEA in Ft. Lauderdale, which they love, btw). Temples and temple worship have been in our monthly routine their whole lives, and I hope they remember our visits with fondness, but even more, I want to help them prepare for the time when they can go inside a temple. I want them to feel the Holy Ghost in a powerful way, as did Elder Christensen's son, and know why the feeling is so strong there.

The upcoming open house will be a great opportunity for this, even if it won't be until 2014.

Until then, we'll be back to visit often, and I'll watch for opportunities to identify the Holy Ghost with them so they'll learn to recognize it too.

But I secretly hope the powerful feelings of the Spirit at the temple open house still surprise them. I'd like to kneel and lovingly whisper reminders of what they will already know about this unspeakable gift from God.

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