It’s been a very uplifting and spiritual weekend. We had a visiting general authority and an area seventy come to our stake conference. We knew that we were going to be getting a new stake presidency. Our stake president had been serving for 9 years. Elder Randall K. Bennett and his wife Shelley along with Elder Marc C. Davis were a blessing to us as they taught us and the Spirit confirmed the truths that they taught. Much of what I am feeling right now is simply the goodness and sweetness of the Holy Ghost after having been touched by the Spirit so richly.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have our congregations (wards) which are led by bishops. They are organized into larger geographic areas called stakes, which are areas overseen by a stake president and his counselors. In the Port Angeles, Washington stake, there are 6 wards which comprise the areas from Forks to Port Townsend. The stake presidency oversees the spiritual and temporal welfare of church members, as well as directing service to the community. Our leadership is called from the membership of the church, so it is an interesting time to see how revelation works as the Lord chooses a new stake president. God knows us, prepares us, and helps those whom He calls to fulfill their callings and assignments. I’ve seen it in my life.
I won’t go into the details of what was taught during Saturday and Sunday, but I did want to talk about a couple of things. I had an experience today, and it’s something that has happened to me many, many times. At the beginning of our Sunday morning stake conference general session, we sang the hymn, “Redeemer of Israel”.
As we began to sing, I got choked up. As my voice joined a couple hundred other voices in attendance, I felt that God was pleased with us. I could hear the voices of so many others, almost angelic voices, and we were all gathered with the desire to do our best and follow our Savior, Jesus Christ. Out of all the things that we could be doing on a beautiful Sunday morning, we had put our time on the altar as a sacrifice to God, showing Him of our devotion and willingness to follow Him. It moved me and I had a hard time singing with the congregation and tears flowed. It’s clear that I could never sing in the Tabernacle Choir because I would be choked up more than I would be singing… and I can’t read music. There’s that too. But I tell you, the feelings that I felt just during that opening hymn, came from God. His Spirit was witnessing to me truth; it was the truth of the words being sung. It was also preparing my heart to hear the words that would be spoken, as well as the impressions that would come to my mind.
There are times in our life when we may be closer to God and more in tune with the directions of His Spirit. There may be times when we are more distant, sometimes by our own choice, and those impressions and feelings do not come as often, if at all. I think that at some point in our life, God will reach out to us individually and touch our heart. Be ready for when that happens. Follow that prompting. God will gather His sheep. Sometimes, as the hymn says, we wander in the desert. Sometimes for a very long time we wander. For me it was a few years. Somehow I knew that I was not on the path I was supposed to be following. I don’t know how I did it, but I changed. I changed my heart. In the grand scheme of things, it was a short blip in my life. During that time I was more interested in satisfying my own desires than anything else. Nothing else mattered to me. Yet, God knew somehow that I could change, with His help, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I could be brought back. I know some who have wandered most of their life, and then somehow they wake up and decide it is time to put the world aside and follow the Savior. These are miracles. These are people being born again and coming unto Christ.
Redeemer of Israel, Our only delight, On whom for a blessing we call, Our shadow by day, And our pillar by night, Our King, our Deliv’rer, our all!
We know he is coming, To gather his sheep, And lead them to Zion in love,For why in the valley, Of death should they weep, Or in the lone wilderness rove?
How long we have wandered, As strangers in sin, And cried in the desert for thee! Our foes have rejoiced, When our sorrows they’ve seen, But Israel will shortly be free.
As children of Zion, Good tidings for us. The tokens already appear. Fear not, and be just, For the kingdom is ours. The hour of redemption is near.
Restore, my dear Savior, The light of thy face; Thy soul-cheering comfort impart; And let the sweet longing For thy holy place Bring hope to my desolate heart.
He looks! and ten thousands Of angels rejoice, And myriads wait for his word; He speaks! and eternity, Filled with his voice, Re-echoes the praise of the Lord.
So much of what I learned over the past two days, the feelings that I have felt, and the impressions that I have received were meant for me personally. But the message that God knows each of us is a message fore everyone and it’s something that I wanted to share. If you feel that you might be ready and looking to change your life, feel free to reach out to me. Call a parent. Contact the missionaries. Call your bishop or your ecclesiastical leader. Reach out to a bishop from our church if you are not affiliated with a church. Heavenly Father knows you. His Son Jesus Christ knows you. He knows each of us and He gathereth His sheep.