Mike and I were asked to talk in church yesterday from a Testimony of Jesus Christ by President Hinckley. I knew when I read the talk I had to speak about writing our spiritual experiences.
Our talks today are taken from a beautiful testimony of Christ written by President Hinckley and published in the March 2008 Ensign. In the talk President Hinckley quoted the following scripture from 2 Nephi 25:
For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do…
And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. 2 Nephi 25:23, 26
Today I would like to talk about the importance of "laboring diligently" to write our testimonies and spiritual experiences. How do we "write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look…"
I have had a witness that we can leave nothing more precious and of far reaching importance than our personal spiritual experiences written down. I teach writing classes to convince others that they have the power and ability to write whatever they want. I like to tell my students that: "You may not think you can write but the Holy Ghost knows how and he will help you." I testify this is true. I have had this experience many times.
Our beloved author Nephi was insecure about his writing abilities:2 Nephi: 33 "…neither am I mighty in writing"
"And the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong..."
"I glory in plainness; I glory in truth."
"I have been commanded of Him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness. "
I think Nephi is trying to tell us that our feelings of insecurity about writing is not an excuse. God did make Nephi’s words "strong" and he will ours also. I have discovered as I have studied writing books that many writers look to God for help and inspiration. Here are a few quotes from some secular authors:
"Although we seldom talk about it in these terms, writing is a means of prayer. It connects us to the invisible world. It gives us a gate or conduit for the other world to talk to us." (Julia Cameron)
"Now this creative power I think is the Holy Ghost." (Brenda Ueland)
"The thing to realize is that the unconscious must be trusted to bring you aid from a higher level than that on which you ordinarily function." (Doretha Brande)
Greg Hansen an LDS writer of music put it this way:
"The belief that each of us is original, unique and has something significant to say ...is fundamental to receiving the level of…inspiration I am referring to. I believe we are inspired 95% of the time, but do not take the time to listen or follow what we’re told. Inspiration is there for the taking, as much as we want it, if we learn how to get it." (Meridian Magazine)
Have you ever written a prayer? I try to get my writing classes to do this every day while they are taking my classes. It is a powerful experience. Your prayers are much more focused when you write them. And in these written prayers you can ask for help in writing your stories and testimony. It is a prayer God will answer when he knows you are determined.
In the 10 months since we started attending here I have heard some wonderful stories and testimonies from you. Some of them have stuck in my mind and because I love stories I worry that they are not written down.
I wonder about the many sweet baby blessings I have heard here. Did anyone bother to jot down the things that were said as a guide to the parents and an inspiration to the child?
I still think about a wonderful story, told in a testimony meeting, by Brother Tom Barlow concerning someone from his mission he reconnected with. There is no end to the power of this story to inspire the members of his family…written down.
Our first Sunday, in the branch, was a testimony meeting and The Cragun family were thanking God for the miracles in behalf of their daughter Sydney who had recovered from a life threatening illness. I knew there were lots of stories to be told about what had gone on here. Cherise is in my writing class right now and has written a charming, joyful little segment of these happenings. I would love for you all to hear it because many of you were part of the story.
Cory Webb’s testimony touched me last Sunday. Her tender spiritual experience could be a treasure someday to her posterity.
Mikes mother is a convert to the church. One Christmas she wrote a history of her testimony as a gift to her children. This is without a doubt the most important gift she ever gave us.
Last Conference President Eyring spoke and wrote something that I think will help us all to realize how important it is to keep track of the movement of God in our lives:
When our children were very small, I started to write down a few things about what happened every day. Let me tell you how that got started. I came home late from a Church assignment. It was after dark. My father-in-law, who lived near us, surprised me as I walked toward the front door of my house. He was carrying a load of pipes over his shoulder, walking very fast and dressed in his work clothes. I knew that he had been building a system to pump water from a stream below us up to our property.
He smiled, spoke softly, and then rushed past me into the darkness to go on with his work. I took a few steps toward the house, thinking of what he was doing for us, and just as I got to the door, I heard in my mind—not in my own voice—these words: I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.
I went inside. I didn’t go to bed. Although I was tired, I took out some paper and began to write. And as I did, I understood the message I had heard in my mind. I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family. Grandpa didn’t have to do what he was doing for us. He could have had someone else do it or not have done it at all. But he was serving us, his family, in the way covenant disciples of Jesus Christ always do. I knew that was true. And so I wrote it down, so that my children could have the memory someday when they would need it.
I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: "Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?" As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.Mike and I spent 2 years as inner city missionaries in Ogden working with people who had various disabilities in a government subsidized housing complex. I wrote many of their stories for them and for me…that as their stories are told "the works of God should be made manifest..." Here is Mike Hayes’ story:
Mike Hayes spoke in Sacrament Meeting our first Sunday at the St. Beneditct’s Manor when we began our mission there. He is a pleasant looking guy standing about 5’8" with dark hair. He was dressed nicely in a dark suit and tie. He is obviously handicapped as one hand and one foot don’t move with ease. He wears glasses and his eyes have a difficult time staying focused. His speech is slightly impeded.
We learned as we visited him that this was his first Sacrament Meeting talk since he became active three years ago. He bore a powerful testimony of his love of the Savior and how his life was better as he tried to live the gospel. His spirit impressed us at the time.
During our visit with Mike we spent a few minutes discussing his work and career goals. He is a bill collector for a nearby business; he does part time drafting and has an online business which he hopes will take off. We were impressed at his ambition with his handicap.
He talked some about a girl friend and his desire to have a family. He happened to mention that he had only been active 3 years. I asked him what brought him back into the church. He told the following story:
"I am an epileptic. I was having seizures so often my life seemed hopeless. I decided the only answer was to end it. I sat on the bed with a 32-caliber revolver. I was contemplating where the best place to shoot would be—in the mouth or at the temple. As I sat there discouraged and distraught something came over me and I dropped to my knees and prayed. I stayed there for a long time pouring out my soul, pleading for help. I glanced at the shelf by my bed. I saw a book—my old dusty scriptures. I put down the gun and picked up the scriptures. They fell open to 2 Timothy 1:7:'For God hath not given us the spirit of fear but of power, and of love and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…'
I cried and dropped to my knees and prayed again. I had my answer.
He pointed to a spot on the wall with the scripture printed out below a picture of the Savior. He said the scripture sustained him daily.
I asked him about his health. He said he got an implant to control his seizures and now only has one or two grand mauls a year. He told us he was happy and hopeful—that the gospel had given him a new life. "
" Yes...that the works of God might be made manifest..." Elder Scott, CR Oct. 93: "Powerful spiritual direction in your life can be overcome or forced into the background unless you provide a way to retain it...Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in time of need. Spiritually sensitive information should be kept in a sacred place that communicates to the Lord how you treasure it. That practice enhances the likelihood of your receiving further light."
Brothers and sisters, the "Word" is Christ. Our Words testify of Him. We need to leave our own written family "scriptures"…our testimonies and spiritual experiences written down so "Our children may know to what source they may look." I pray you will understand the importance of your "words" --they are not for you alone. In Jesus Name, Amen