Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Never fail to respond

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Priesthood session from the April 1975 Conference.
I was touched by two experiences President Marion G. Romney shared in his talk, "We Need Men of Courage." They seemed more deeply personal than is usual in a conference talk, maybe because they both talked of opportunities missed and duties undone:
Not all acts of courage bring…spectacular rewards. But all of them do bring peace and contentment; just as cowardice, in the end, always brings regret and remorse. 
I know that from my own experience. I remember when I was a boy of 15 and we had been expelled from Mexico in the revolution. My folks went to Los Angeles from El Paso, Texas. I got a job there among a bunch of Mormon-haters, and I didn’t tell them that I was a Mormon. Sometime after that, President Joseph F. Smith came to Los Angeles and had dinner with my parents—a very humble dinner; I can remember that it was very scant. He put his hand on my head and said, “My boy, don’t ever be ashamed that you are a Mormon.”
You know, I have worried all my days that I didn’t have the courage to stand up to those ribald men.
I felt almost protective of him when I read this. He was only 15! He had just been driven out from his home! Of course he would be scared of these "Mormon-haters"! But he obviously felt deeply that he could have, should have, done more to stand up for his beliefs.

Then the next experience:
I remember another occasion when I was in Australia on a mission. I went up to visit the Jenolan Caves—very wonderful, spectacular caves. And as we walked through them, the guide said, “If some of you will get out and stand on that rock over there and sing a song, it will demonstrate the capacity of this cave.”

Well, the Spirit said to me, “Go over there and sing ‘O, My Father.’ I hesitated, and the crowd walked on. I lost the opportunity. I never felt good about that. The only thing that ever made me feel the Lord had forgiven me was when I heard President McKay say,“I was inspired one time to do a certain thing when I was in the mission field, and I didn’t do it.” He said, “I have always been sorry since.” He said, “Never fail to respond to the whisperings of the Spirit. Live so you can receive it, and then have the courage to do as it instructs.”
That's really two stories in one, because it talks about President McKay missing an opportunity, too! And President Romney's missed chance was such a strange thing—what good would singing "O, My Father" have done? I wouldn't have wanted to do that either! But what blessing (for himself or someone else) did he forfeit, not doing it? He knew there was something lost.

Still. I love the fact that these two men knew full well that they had fallen short in the past, but it didn't cripple them. They just told themselves, "I won't make that mistake again. Next time I'll listen. Next time I'll respond." And they advised us to make the same commitment!

I read something from a BYU devotional talk recently along those same lines: "Never suppress a generous thought." It's a good thing to ponder. Why spend so much time wondering and analyzing if the spirit is truly telling us to do something? If it's a good thing, just do it. If it might be a prompting, just follow it. "Never fail to respond." And thus God leads us along, and we prove to Him that we (clumsy followers though we may be) truly do desire more spirit, more revelation, more guidance from above.

Other posts in this series:

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