Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Holy Ghost

I listened to President Eyring's first talk as a member of the First Presidency in General Conference on the way to work today (O Remember, Remember, Ensign, Nov. 2007). He talked about how he started writing down every day some of the things that happened. He would ask himself, “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?" It was the use of the word "seen" that caught my attention. He didn't ask whether the hand of God did reach out, but whether he saw it.

For a couple of months after first hearing this talk, I tried to do that. The point was to remember all that God does for me and my family and to have it recorded for the day that we will need to draw on that memory - to get us through a difficult trial, help a family member or friend, etc. What I discovered was the truth of something that President Eyring said later in his talk:

"It won’t be easy to remember. Living as we do with a veil over our eyes, we cannot remember what it was like to be with our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, in the premortal world; nor can we see with our physical eyes or with reason alone the hand of God in our lives. Seeing such things takes the Holy Ghost. And it is not easy to be worthy of the Holy Ghost’s companionship in a wicked world."

We no longer have to go looking for trouble, it is literally banging the door down looking for us. We don't have to actively look for movies, images, activities, etc. that will drive the Spirit away. They are being pushed on us; disguised with clever humor, awesome special effects, or by appealing to our curiosity. Today we have to actively turn away from those things or we sacrifice one of the greatest blessings offered us, the companionship, inspiration, protection, and cleansing power of the Holy Ghost.

With that thought still in my mind, the next talk on my iPod was by Elder Bednar (Clean Hands and a Pure Heart, Ensign, Nov 2007). I think it flows nicely with this thought. He said:

"The gospel of Jesus Christ encompasses much more than avoiding, overcoming, and being cleansed from sin and the bad influences in our lives; it also essentially entails doing good, being good, and becoming better. Repenting of our sins and seeking forgiveness are spiritually necessary, and we must always do so. But remission of sin is not the only or even the ultimate purpose of the gospel. To have our hearts changed by the Holy Spirit such that “we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2), as did King Benjamin’s people, is the covenant responsibility we have accepted. This mighty change is not simply the result of working harder or developing greater individual discipline. Rather, it is the consequence of a fundamental change in our desires, our motives, and our natures made possible through the Atonement of Christ the Lord. Our spiritual purpose is to overcome both sin and the desire to sin, both the taint and the tyranny of sin."

He then says, "Let me suggest that hands are made clean through the process of putting off the natural man and by overcoming sin and the evil influences in our lives through the Savior’s Atonement. Hearts are purified as we receive His strengthening power to do good and become better." I don't think I would be wrong in saying that we can't have either clean hands or a pure heart without the help of the Holy Ghost.

I remember a time in Syracuse when the Bishop and I were talking about the Holy Ghost. He told me that when he is conducting interviews, he likes to ask when the last time the person felt the Holy Ghost. I think that is an important question to ask ourselves. I think the Holy Ghost ties it all together; with His help we can see all that God is doing in our lives, we can receive His help in overcoming sin and becoming better.

The question for me is, "Why, when I know all of this, do I still choose to watch shows that obviously offend the Spirit? Why do I still neglect to devote the proper time to engage in meaningful prayer and scripture study? Why do I put off being anxiously engaged in a good cause for time spent on the computer or for just laying around?"

The thing is, I know where to go to find the answers and the strength to change, but when will I finally "give away all my sins to know [God]" as King Lamoni's father and become fully converted?


Wendy said...

I've been thinking lots about these things lately. Being human is really frustrating sometimes isn't it?! We know what we should do, why don't we just do it?

Thank you for sharing these thoughts. I remember both of those talks - particularly Pres. Erying. It is so important to look for the hand of God in our lives.

Tim said...

Good post

Autumn said...

I was just thinking about giving away all my sins this very morning. I too know what my "problems" are but still find myself doing the same things all the time. These are some great talks to help us stop doing the things we always do.