When I was a young child my parents drove a black Volkswagen Beetle. I was intrigued by this car and liked to imagine what it would be like to drive it. One day, my three-year old curiosity got the best of me and I snuck out of the house and immediately went to the car, opened the door, and climbed in. I stood on the driver’s seat so I could see out the window and pretended to drive, moving the steering wheel back and forth and making noises like the car engine was running. The intrigue of the gear stick finally got to me so I reached over and pulled on it, unknowingly putting the transmission into neutral. We lived on a hill and the car started rolling backwards down the driveway. Too young to realize what was happening or to understand the potential danger, I was excited to actually be “driving” the car. The car rolled to the end of the driveway and out into the busy street in front of our home. With the momentum generated by rolling down the hill, the car continued across the street through the parking lot of the neighborhood grocery store, and finally crashed into the grocery store.
The Importance of Guidance and Direction
Obviously, at just three years old I was too young, too inexperienced, and not capable of driving that car. The end result was that I crashed into the grocery store. As I reflect on that experience, I realize that there are many things in life that we may want to do but we are just not prepared, experienced or qualified to do them. We may fail without the guidance and direction of someone who knows more.
Without necessary guidance and direction, our journey through life may be filled with crashes and significant misdirection and difficulties. It is a glorious blessing that God has given us a prophet who can guide us and direct us to navigate things we don’t know or understand so our journey through life can be safer and more successful.
In his video message, “The Healing Power of Gratitude,” President Russell M. Nelson taught us that gratitude has healing power.
President Nelson’s timely message and guidance are blessings for us as we face the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and an uncertain world. Here are a few lessons that will help us along our way.
A “Happy” Lesson
I learned the value of gratitude from a dear member of the Yangon, Myanmar Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because names are difficult to pronounce, many of the members of this branch have nicknames that help the English-speaking missionaries and members more easily refer to them. One brother who is confined to a wheelchair goes by the nickname “Happy.”
Living with a disability is extremely difficult in a third-world country. “Happy” has an extremely challenging journey of navigating public transportation, crossing busy streets, and using uneven sidewalks just to get to church. Regardless of the difficulties, he is always happy and also grateful for the love that he feels from God. The Nephites help us see the significance of a positive attitude when Nephi reflects that “we lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:27). Despite his challenges, “Happy” chooses to live after the manner of happiness, much of which is tied to his attitude and the gratitude he feels for the Lord. His example has influenced me and has had a significant impact on my attitude during times of trial. I am grateful for a prophet that has given us direction to show gratitude as a way to heal during these challenging times.
Let God Prevail
In President Nelson’s general conference talk in October 2020, he provided guidance that we need “to let God prevail in our lives” (“Let God Prevail,” Ensign, Nov. 2020, 92). I love a simple verse found in Proverbs that says, “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established” (Proverbs 4:26). As I pause and ponder my direction in life, questions asked by President Nelson cause me to really assess how I am doing: “The question for each of us, regardless of race, is the same. Are you willing to let God prevail in your life? Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life? Will you allow His words, His commandments, and His covenants to influence what you do each day? Will you allow His voice to take priority over any other? Are you willing to let whatever He needs you to do take precedence over every other ambition? Are you willing to have your will swallowed up in His?” (“Let God Prevail,” 94).
If each of us would simply pause and answer these questions, we would receive great clarity regarding our true direction in life. As I think about these questions, my thoughts go to the powerful story of Jesus Christ when He called His disciples. The Savior was walking by the Sea of Galilee and He saw Simon and Andrew casting their nets and fishing: “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him” (Matthew 4:18-20).
I feel blessed to have been taught by President Nelson the importance of letting God prevail in all aspects of my life.
Learning to Recognize the Spirit and Hear Christ
In an effort to help guide us, President Nelson said, “I renew my plea for you to do whatever it takes to increase your spiritual capacity to receive personal revelation” (“Hear Him,” Ensign, May 2020, 90). The ability to receive personal revelation and to recognize personal revelation is difficult. However, I have learned that we are better able to recognize the promptings of the Spirit and personal revelation if we pause and are quiet enough to feel and hear the promptings. The promptings and revelations may be subtle, but significant.
Learning to Recognize the Spirit and Hear Christ
Recently, I had an experience where I learned that promptings come in a variety of ways and for many reasons, because we have a loving Heavenly Father that wants to help us. Prior to my calling as a General Authority, I worked as a forensic accountant. One morning as I was commuting to my office for work, I noticed my car was extremely dirty. I decided to stop at a carwash to wash my car before continuing to my office. This particular carwash required the use of a credit card and they charged you for the time used. There was a sign that clearly stated to push STOP when finished in order to stop the charges being made to my credit card. I quickly washed my car, then jumped in and drove to my office. After parking, I was walking into my office when a clear prompting came to me that I had not pushed STOP at the car wash. In spite of a busy workday ahead, I responded to the prompting, returned to my car, and drove back to the carwash where I indeed found the meter was still running and my credit card was still being charged. This was the most expensive carwash I have ever had! Fortunately I was able to push STOP and then go back to work without incurring charges all day. I learned that God really does care, and the Spirit will prompt us even regarding the small and simple things in life if we are in need and if we will listen. I have learned to Hear Him by developing the ability to recognize the Spirit even in little ways in my life.
President Nelson has promised that as we increase our spiritual capacity to receive personal revelation, we will “know how to move ahead with [our lives], what to do during times of crisis, and how to discern and avoid the temptations and the deceptions of the adversary” (“Hear Him,” 90). What an amazing promise!
Unlike my experience as a three-year old, inexperienced, incapable, and unknowing boy who crashed the car into the grocery store, I know that our living prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, has the experience, capability, and inspired knowledge to guide and direct us through the challenges and joys of this life. I have learned and testify that President Nelson’s teachings “point the way as we make our way through the heart-wrenching maze of our mortal experiences” (“Hear Him,” 90).