burning

I once met an engineer from England. He felt impressed to share his story with me. I appreciated it and wish now that I’d be able to give you more details. Agnostic as a younger man 35 years ago, he was investigating our church and not receiving the assurance he sought.

Fasting for a day, he went into the bush to kneel and pray and asked God five questions pertinent to his life. Nothing happened. No answer from the Lord. Disappointment.

Some days after this while he was driving, abruptly all five of his questions were answered in succession. He pulled over by the side of the road and sobbed. When he got home his wife greeted him and noted he was ‘white as a sheet’. He shared with her that he knew the church was true.

Unbeknownst to him, she already had her testimony and had been waiting for him to learn the truth for himself. That happened over 30 years ago, yet as he related his experience, a tear rolled down the cheek of this humble and gentle man.

Each of us has something divine within us, in our core, which draws and connects us to God.  We long to be reunited with the Divine. Even more so, God longs to reunify with us. But we have the freedom to choose-to accept or to dismiss.

I and many individuals believe that communications from the Divine are meant to be the common experience of mankind. However, we don’t get to choose how, when or where He will meet us.

“if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God that in that day He shall manifest Himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks-And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, …they shall be a blessed people” 1 Nephi 14:1-2 (BOM)

There are steps we can consider when we are investigating the church. We are promised that if we ask Heavenly Father in the name of Christ with a sincere heart and with real intent He will manifest the truth by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Once He has confirmed the truth of the Book of Mormon, of the restored gospel, and we commit our lives to living it, our learning does not stop.

Heavenly Father desires that each of us continues to progress-that we keep asking and seeking in order to receive ‘higher education’. How to go about this took me way too long to get and lately has been impressed on me again.

“For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds;
and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” Matthew 7:8

We continue to ask, seek and knock if we would like to learn more from Him. The method of approaching God with our queries does not change, though it may not be easy to implement consistently.

  1. Pray– Begin by praying.
  2. Believe-Reach a point where you say “Heavenly Father, I want to believe”.
  3. Ask– Ask your question. (It is not unusual to begin to believe, and then it can take awhile and some effort before getting an answer.)
  4. Wait-The Lord will meet you and proceed to soften your heart.
  5. Receive– Your softened heart enables you to believe our Father.  And enables you to receive His message.
  6. The Answer-An answer comes into your mind and into your heart. This answer to prayer is going to lead you to do something.
  7. Do– Once you do receive an answer, it is important to do what you have been instructed to do. Your behavior then harmonizes to what you believe to be God’s will. This will lead you to know it was of God.

An authority I am not.  These ‘steps’ have been helpful in my experience. They may or may not be as helpful for you. I wouldn’t have minded if someone had clarified this process for me. And then, perhaps I was meant to learn it “line upon line”.

Note:

Answers from our Heavenly Father are not always our only spiritual encounters. We are all acquainted with both light and dark influences. There is the deceiver- and forces that would like to mislead and delude. You must plow through that-keep pressing on- before receiving further Light and Truth.

“Behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask Me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong” D & C 9:8-9

For a long spell, during the times that the Lord did indeed connect with me and soften my heart, I knew His love and comfort, but had not considered this a part of my progression at the time. And I sure didn’t understand #4-“wait”, patience seeming to be the biggest hurdle in my life.

“Pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart” Moroni 7:48 (BOM)

What did my engineer friend do? He prayed. He wanted to believe (he fasted).He asked. He waited. He received an answer. His heart was softened. (Okay…a little different order.) And he did ‘do’.

I know that our Heavenly Father is perfectly faithful.  When you believe enough to be able to accept His answer and when you act on that answer, great things will unfold in your life.

 

Last week, I promised that we would examine the effects of strong emotions and address how to recognize feelings from the Holy Spirit before we end this series on feelings.

In Part One I mentioned that a couple of the synonyms for ‘feelings’ were of interest:

“EMOTION is applied to an intensified feeling: agitated by emotion.

PASSION is strong or violent emotion, often so overpowering that it masters the mind or judgment: stirred to a passion of anger.”

I was surprised when I learned how important it is to keep these two aspects of feelings under control, for the power of the Holy Spirit to guide my life. Growing up in a French Canadian family did not lend itself to teaching me constraint with my emotions-glad or sad.

Strong emotions such as revenge, contempt, contention or fear will drive away the Holy Ghost. The Lord cannot communicate with us when our hearts are hardened, filled with bitterness, anger, resentment, malice or pride.

“Today, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts” Hebrews 4:7

As I’ve learned a little at a time to seek and acquire the strength, companionship and confidence of the Spirit of the Lord, the outcome is always much more superior than my past attempts of controlling outcomes (fear) and loud confrontations. “Strong emotion” and “passion”- I confess it’s a relief and very empowering as I’ve let go of such demonstrations.

“Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled …” 1Peter 4:10

Even to be enabled to write and share with you, the Lord reminds me to be at peace and calm in my body that my mind may have clarity and to be able to feel the Spirit’s promptings. I assure you, whenever I’ve become agitated, I may as well not bother typing a word. His inspiration and direction is that important to me. It is impossible to feel the Spirit and at the same time feel worried, unsettled, unhappy or afraid.

Recognizing Feelings from the Holy Spirit

There are occasions when the Lord is manifest in miraculous ways through dreams, visions or visitations. Most often He is heard through a soft and gentle voice that comes into our hearts and minds. This ‘still small voice’, is accompanied by a deep peace in the heart and a quiet warm feeling in the bosom. This confirmation is a feeling, a thought, an impression that speaks deeply to our soul.

“Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

President Ezra Taft Benson has expressed it this way: “We hear the words of the Lord most often by a feeling. If we are humble and sensitive, the Lord will prompt us through our feelings. That is why spiritual promptings move us on occasion to great joy, sometimes to tears. Many times my emotions have been made tender and my feelings very sensitive when touched by the Spirit.”

When we feel the Spirit’s influence, we feel content, relaxed, and serene. The Holy Ghost causes our feelings to become very tender. We feel more charitable and compassionate. We are calmer. We have a greater capacity to love. We feel comfort in His touch.

To determine whether or not it is His voice that we hear, we can ask ourselves, “Do I feel the emotions the Spirit would bring?” When goodness and positive emotions- the feelings of love, joy, peace longsuffering, gentleness, goodness and faith (Galatians 5:22) surround us, we can be sure the Spirit is near.

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says” Revelation 2:11

Recently, my friend posted this marvelous quote on his blog: “The Greatest Guarantor of Inward Peace

“The Spirit of the Holy Ghost is the greatest guarantor of inward peace in our unstable world. It can be more mind-expanding and can make us have a better sense of well-being than any chemical or other earthly substance. It will calm nerves; it will breathe peace to our souls. This Comforter can be with us as we seek to improve. It can function as a source of revelation to warn us of impending danger and also help keep us from making mistakes. It can enhance our natural senses so that we can see more clearly, hear more keenly, and remember what we should remember. It is a way of maximizing our happiness.” James E. Faust, Ensign, May 1989, 32–33

“Behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask Me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong;” Doctrines and Covenants 9:8-9

There is never a time we feel closer to our Father in Heaven than when the Holy Ghost is with us. Oh that every one of Heavenly Father’s children would accept the glorious privileges that He bestows on His faithful children. His peace and joy, His love and comforting hand are the sweetest of all glimpses into an exalted life with Him. Meanwhile, these feelings bring us closest to experiencing a bit of heaven on earth.