I went to church with my Dad yesterday, as I do every other Sunday. I do this so that he won't have to go to church by himself all the time. Have you ever gone to church by yourself? Sometimes it's OK, but I prefer to go with someone, as I'm sure he does as well. It was Fast and Testimony meeting. Fast and Testimony Meeting happens monthly on the first Sunday of the month and it is exactly what the name implies. We come to the meeting, ideally having fasted for 2 whole meals and with the money saved from not eating those meals, donate that money to Fast Offering, which, in turn, is used for helping the poor around the world. The members of our church are also given an opportunity, as they are moved, to bear their testimonies about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and their feelings for it.
Towards the beginning of the meeting, an elderly gentleman got up and told about his son-in-law in Afghanistan. He is commander in chief of a company of Utah marines there. This past week he lost 2 young men in combat. It turns out that both of them were from here in Orem and both went to Mountain View HS. One was Lance Cpl. Nigel Olsen, 21, and the other, Lance Cpl. Carlos Aragon, 19. He told of how his daughter was so sad and devastated about the loss and would be attending the funerals of both these young men, and how tough it has been for everyone to lose these fine, valiant, young men. The two news articles are here and here.
Then he went on to tell about his own little 3-year old grandson, who was with him this last week, before anyone knew of the incident. He recollects that as they were in the car driving together, his little grandson said emphatically, "I need to pray for my Daddy. My Daddy's in trouble and I need to pray for him now." This grandfather, who was also accompanied by one of his own sons, stopped and let the little boy say a prayer for his Daddy in Afghanistan. He goes on to say that this little boy said the most heartfelt, mature prayer on behalf of his father, pleading to the Lord to save his Father and bring him back home to him someday. It was beyond a 3-year-old's capacity, but he was witnessing it along with his son. After the prayer, the little boy returned to being a 3-year-old. But for a moment, they witnessed a true "out of the mouths of babes" experience. Later they learned that this company had been under some extremely dangerous circumstances, and of the two losses.
This reminds me of how special our little children are and how in tune to the quiet whisperings of the Spirit they are. Now, granted, I'm sure this little boy has been taught by his parents to pray when he feels the need. But more than that, I feel he has been taught to recognize what those quiet promptings are and what they feel like. That little boy, in turn, taught me how far I have to go to be able to feel, recognize, and act upon those promptings that are directions from God himself through his Holy Spirit.
What does the influence of the Spirit feel like? Here are some descriptions that I've recently heard: "When you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas." "A sensation of light.", "it feels like sunshine," "a feeling of comfort, like a warm blanket", "a still, small, voice", "feelings of "peace, hope and joy." Have you ever felt any of those feelings? If so, chances are that it was the influence of the Holy Ghost!
Next, I ask myself, how can I better recognize these feelings? The Lord has counseled us to "be still, and know that I am God." Maybe if I can provide myself a still and quiet time each day when I am not bombarded by television, computer, video games or other distractions, I can allow that still, small voice an opportunity to provide personal revelation and to whisper sweet guidance, reassurance, and comfort. Maybe I can save myself a whole lot of unnecessary grief and regret if I can do that!
And last, it all reminds me of a poem that I heard put to music a few years back. The words are from Charles Dickens:
They are idols of hearts and of households. They are angels of God in disguise; His sunlight still sleeps in their tresses, His glory still gleams in their eyes; Those truants from Home and from Heaven, They have made me more manly and mild; And I know now how Jesus could liken The Kingdom of God to a child.