We have been invited to prepare for general conference by thinking about questions that have been weighing on our minds, writing them down, and then listening for answers the Lord will send through His servants. But I also know it is true that in addition to answering our questions, the Lord may have other things He wants to tell us. So, we should be open to any messages God may have for us. This was the case for me during the April 2021 conference.
Preparing for Conference with Concerns and Questions
The week before conference, I spent time with one of my best friends as she prepared to have a brain tumor removed. Since the surgery would take place on the Tuesday after conference, all of my prayers leading up to conference were for her, the success of the surgery, and for peace and strength for her family. I anticipated that during conference I would be comforted and filled with peace, hearing talks about God healing the sick and afflicted.
Yet when conference began, the Spirit began to speak a different story to me. Over the past five years, a number of my dearest friends and loved ones have lost their testimonies of the gospel and have left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Although my love for them has never diminished, I have frequently questioned: Could I have done more to help and show them my own belief in the Savior?
While recently discussing the gospel, a loved one simply stated, “Either you are right, or I am right.” Because I care so much about this person, I have been led to a deeper introspection of my testimony. While my faith has always been strong and unwavering, I began pondering whether I truly know and believe everything about this restored gospel. Yes, these questions were weighing on my heart, simmering deep inside me while I thought only of my beloved friend suffering from brain cancer.
Answers from the Living Prophet
As the speakers stood, one after the other, session after session, the Spirit did not speak to me of my friend, the spirit spoke to me about the questions that I had simmering deep inside me. It was President Russell M. Nelson’s talk on Sunday morning that answered many of the questions I had been asking myself. He reminded me that faith in Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father is difficult and requires ongoing effort, but it is also the greatest power available to us in this life. He said, “the answer to each of your challenges is to increase your faith” (“Christ Is Risen; Faith in Him Will Move Mountains,” Liahona, May 2021, 50; emphasis added). I looked at myself and wondered if I was trying to increase my own faith as I faced my worries and questions.
President Nelson reemphasized Christ’s promise from the Sermon on the Mount: “‘Every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened’ (Matthew 7:8). God knows what will help your faith grow. Ask, and then ask again” (“Christ Is Risen,” 50). Had I truly been asking with a sincere heart? Did I truly listen for Christ knocking at my own door?
On my side, was my knocking loud enough to be heard, or was I only tapping on the Lord’s door?
President Nelson directed, “Choose to believe in Jesus Christ. …Study with the desire to believe rather than the hope that you could find a flaw in the fabric of a prophet’s life or a discrepancy in the scriptures” (“Christ Is Risen,” 50). Although I have not been looking for flaws, have I been looking with a true desire to believe? He spoke to me when he called all to “choose to believe.” I love that! President Nelson’s talk, which was prepared for everyone on earth, really struck me as a direct way that a loving Heavenly Father was talking specifically to me and answering the questions that I have tucked quietly in my heart.
I have faith. I have always had faith, but without working to grow it, my faith had become stagnant and not something I treasured. I was reminded that I must make the effort to keep it important. I know very well that just because one day I fit into all of my favorite jeans, if I don’t eat healthy and exercise, that will soon not be the case anymore.
Faith should be looked at the same way. I should avoid those things that take me away from my “goal faith.” Each day I must choose to pray meaningfully, read my scriptures, and share what I am learning with my family.
Faith in Christ Can Move Mountains in Our Lives
On Tuesday my dear friend went in for her surgery. It was a massive craniotomy that took over six hours. In a text from her husband the morning of the surgery, I discovered that general conference was teaching me about her situation as well.
Her husband wrote: “I blessed her to know that her faith can move the mountains in her life as that was something President Nelson had said in conference just the day before. This mountain of a trial, which to many may seem insurmountable, can be moved through faith. Hers, our family’s, and the faith, prayers and fasting of hundreds of others.”
Their faith inspires me. I have seen her belief in Christ shine through ever since her diagnosis was made. She believes in miracles and that God has power to do anything, but she also trusts in His will and His timeline.
This trial that she is facing is terrifying to me. Yet, in her beautiful strength my friend told me that she hopes it has helped to strengthen other people’s faith in God and has brought them closer to Him. I know that it has done that for me. I haven’t prayed with so much faith in His power for a very long time. I wish that I hadn’t needed this terrifying experience to prompt me to kneel down and pour out my heart in prayer multiple times each day. I wish that I had just been doing that all along. Now, I hope that I will not forget the lessons that this experience is teaching me. I hope that unwavering faith in the power of God will continue in my life, and that I will apply my heartfelt prayers to my children, my home, and to all those around me.
President Nelson’s talk was just what I needed to hear at just the time I needed to hear it. I have faith in Heavenly Father, and I have faith in His Only Begotten Son and my brother Jesus Christ. I have faith in Christ’s living and ordained prophet: President Russell M. Nelson. I have faith that as I strive to strengthen my understanding and knowledge of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, that my prayers will be heard and answered. Those answers may come to my heart through the Spirit or through hearing the voices of God’s prophet and apostles. I am so grateful for general conference and the gift that it is to have another way for Heavenly Father to speak directly to me.