His Spirit Poured Out…
I have never been truly alone. Sure, I have walked alone in the forest, on the beach, or at twilight on a quiet street. I have sat alone in an empty place, and felt just as alone in a room full of strangers. I have endured trials and pains that in the moment made me to feel very much alone. Nevertheless, I have never been truly alone because the Spirit of the Lord has always been near, even and especially in my moments of greatest loneliness.
When I was a child of eight years old my father held my hand as I stood in a font full of water and baptized me that I might follow the Savior’s example, become a member of the Lord’s church, and receive by the laying on of hands the gift of the Holy Ghost. Yet the Spirit was with me before then. I felt His influence on a night when I needed comfort, a night my father did not come home as a result of a terrible accident. I was grateful Dad recovered, and I am grateful still for that Comforter I received in the moment as I stared out, my nose pressed against the large and cool pane glass window of our little Fresno home.
Although memory fails this recollection of the Lord’s Spirit, I am confident that He was with me in those first hours of my life, when cold and naked I came into the world crying for comfort, that shocking separation from the presence of Father in Heaven, as I believe He is with all children. A few months later when I returned to the hospital and nearly died from pneumonia, my little lungs barely capable of providing the oxygen needed for my body, I know He was with me then, as with those doctors who exercised life-saving abilities.
The influence of the Spirit of God is far more present with us then I believe we daily recognize. He is with us in our pains and in our sorrows. He is with us in our trials and in our tribulation. He is with us when our minds or hands are wanting to stray, if only to draw us back to the light of goodness when we are ready to repent. Our recognition of the presence of the Spirit of God is what helps us to see the good paths to follow and allows us to progress in our journey back to the Lord’s presence.
I am reminded of a favorite story from my youth I had hanging on my bedroom wall called Footprints:
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonged to him, and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most you would leave me.”
The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
The Lord Jesus Christ promised that as we make and keep covenants we will have His Spirit to be with us always, to carry us when our own strength fails. Even without the gift of the Holy Ghost, which accompanies the covenant of baptism and confirmation, I believe the influence of the Spirit of God is ever available to all of His children, it is simply ours to recognize, heed and follow.
There are dramatic moments when we are very aware of the presence of the Holy Ghost. But as the Spirit becomes a part of our daily lives, we do not always notice His presence, even though His influence is guiding our decisions and helping us to find lasting joy.
Personal revelation comes in various forms through the Holy Spirit, and sometimes it is not as overtly noticeable as we expect. It is easy to feel alone on decisions we make when in fact we are just not recognizing that Still Small Voice, that loving hand of God guiding us through life.
The fact is that we do not always know front of mind that we are being influenced for good by a higher power. As Elder David A. Bednar taught, “We seem to believe that the Holy Ghost is dramatic and big and sudden, when it’s still and small and incremental over time. You don’t have to recognize that you are receiving revelation in the moment that you are receiving revelation.” Nevertheless, it has always been intended by God that we have access to, and that we are able to be influenced by His Holy Spirit.
Speaking of our day, the days preceding the second coming of Christ, Jehovah revealed through the Old Testament prophet Joel, “I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth,…” (Joel 2:28-30).
We are taught that we will need that Spirit to be able to overcome all the trials and challenges that will beset the world and God’s children on earth during the last days. We need to do everything that we can to be sensitive to the Holy Ghost, inviting the Lord’s influence and following His guidance. This is an imperative for the followers of Christ as we participate in the great and final battles between good and evil. As it comes to its glorious conclusion, and the Son of God once again reigns upon the earth in peace, we want that influence to have become a predominant part of our hearts guiding all our intentions. This is for our spiritual survival. As the living prophet, President Russell M. Nelson has declared, “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost” (General Conference, April 2018).
“In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”
President Russell M. Nelson
I also add my witness of the power and necessity of the Holy Spirit in our lives to guide us daily in preparing our hearts and minds to be true followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. The temptations of the world, the hardship and tragedies that will come, ravages of illness, betrayal, wars and rumors of wars, the heart-hardening results of feeling alone and without hope can only be overcome by allowing the influence of the Holy Ghost to be constant in our lives. We must make and keep covenants. We must allow love and forgiveness to overcome hatred and anger. Through the influence of the Lord’s Spirit we can become people of charity, a people of pure love, a people of Christ.
May we recognize the ever presence of God in the world and in our lives. May we allow the Holy Spirit to influence us in such a way that we never feel fully alone, but always with His comfort. Let us survive spiritually with the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost, that we may abide the trial filled days ahead, and rejoice together in the triumphant second coming of our Lord. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.