This weekend I had the opportunity to listen to men and women who have been called by God to teach the world his truth. It’s always an amazing experience. As I reflected on the experience I had a realization that I wanted to share. First, I’ve learned a few things over the past two days. Some of the lessons that were most meaningful to me were:
- The Proclamation on the Family is the word of the Lord, and its teachings are one way in which Latter-day Saints will increasingly depart from the world.
- As I focus on serving others, doors in my life that appear closed will open.
- I should approach seeking direction in my life in the context of being able to serve others.
- When it comes to the people I meet and interact with, there are no coincidences.
- Not all the Lord asks of us is because of how strong we are, how faithful we are, or how much we know.
- “Holiness to the Lord” can be inscribed on anything, even drums.
- As you trust the Lord, it allows him to direct you.
- The Priesthood is governed by keys and covenants.
- The Priesthood is like a rocket. Its sole purpose is to deliver a payload. The payload the Priesthood is designed to deliver is the opportunity to be cleansed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
- If I cannot feel the light, it is not because it is not there, but rather because I am not in a place to receive it.
These are inspiring truths! But I think in some sense the most important lesson, if you can call it that, was not in the words that I heard this weekend. In fact I’m not even sure words are adequate to describe what I learned. Let me explain.
I’m in a graduate program, a doctorate of philosophy. I’m being trained and mentored in the art of philosophizing - of ideas and abstraction. My work right now is intellectual. It is cerebral in the extreme. I often spend hours thinking through ideas. Writing, critiquing my thoughts, asking myself questions, deleting, re-writing, and doing it again.
But this weekend I learned something that no philosophy will ever be able to convey. It wasn’t an idea and it wasn’t articulable. Because it was a feeling. More than my head, it was my heart that was learning the truth.
I don’t know how to explain it, other than simply to say that I had the most calm, sweet, and joyful feelings as I sat and listened to men and women speak eternal truth. I started to feel increased confidence in God. I felt more confidence in His plan for me. I felt to trust Him more. I felt assurance that everything will work out. I also felt a greater desire to be a better man. I want to improve my life and myself. I want to be more worthy. I want to be more willing to sacrifice the world. I want to be more ready to stand up for the truth. I want to be kinder. I want to more devout in my service. More diligent in my work, my study, my service. And more attune to the Spirit.
The gospel is intellectually stimulating to be sure. But it is much more than that. And the reason it is much more than that is that the intellect can only do so much to influence and propel people to change. The power of reason is limited in its capacity to teach us. Intellect alone will never be an adequate tutor. On the other hand, the influence of the Holy Spirit has the power to change us. The Spirit speaks to our minds and our hearts. And this weekend the Spirit spoke to my heart. It wasn’t what I heard spoken. It was what I felt as I heard those word spoken.
This is the magic of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It transforms us because it helps us feel that we want to be transformed. It gives us a taste of heaven. And in that taste we also feel the truth that it is obtainable through Jesus Christ. The real purpose of education is not just to know, it is to become. To me, this is what it means to learn the truth.