Listen and heed

The Prophet Samuel learned at a young age to listen - and hearken - to the Holy Spirit.

Our lives would be fuller, more joyful - and undoubtedly simpler - if we would do the same.Samuel's experience with listening is instructive:

As Samuel, under the watchful care of Eli, lay down to sleep one night, the voice of the Lord called to him.

Samuel, although obedient and desirous to do what was right, mistakenly thought the voice was that of Eli, his mentor, and ran to him and answered "Here am I."

When Eli explained that "I called not, my son," Samuel returned to his bed.

Again, the voice came. And again Samuel arose and went to Eli. Again Eli explained that he had not called Samuel. And Samuel returned to his bed.

Now, for a third time, the voice came to the sleeping Samuel. Ever obedient, he ran again to Eli. But this time Eli perceived that it was in fact the Lord who had been calling Samuel.

"Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak Lord; for they servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

"And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth."

From that beginning - of listening and obeying - Samuel "grew and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground." Samuel, of course, eventually became a great prophet of the Lord. (See 1 Sam. 3)

Just as Samuel was asleep when the Lord called, we mortals sometimes seem a little groggy relative to our earthly existence. We wander and stumble, not knowing for sure what we should do or where we should go.

Yet the Lord - through the influence of the Holy Spirit - stands ready, willing and more than able to help us through this sometimes difficult mortal probation.

The secret for us, as it was for Samuel, is to listen - and heed - the usually gentle, but sometimes stern, promptings of the Spirit. If we will allow it, the Spirit's influence can serve as a friendly nudge in the right direction or a kind and firm hand in the back that helps us to continue forward.

An excellent example of heeding is found in Nephi's response to the invitation to leave Jerusalem.

Nephi, of course, readily accepted his father's counsel that the family should leave their comfortable home. Nephi did all he could to help.

Later, after arriving in the promised land, Nephi expresses his confidence that he and his family made the right decision. He also expresses gratitude for the Lord's mercies in his behalf.

As he ponders the Lord's mercy, he realizes that he, too, would have perished in Jerusalem had it not been for that mercy. (See 1 Ne. 19:20) It appears obvious that Nephi's concern was more for spiritual destruction than for physical destruction.

Though Nephi was asked for a major sacrifice, such is generally not the case with us. For us, the direction given by the Spirit usually requires little real sacrifice or hardship. The Spirit's promptings are generally just a heightened awareness of the need to do what we know we ought to do.

Being mortal, however, we too often fight - or at least resist - the promptings, thinking we know more than we really do. Why follow the prompting, we rationalize, when we've already got everything under control?

So instead of making a timely appropriate course correction, we sometimes bumble along the rutted path, usually learning the hard way that the Spirit really was right. Humility and submission aren't easy - but they are easier than the natural consequences of our errors.

The Lord is merciful and kind. He wants to help us successfully complete our mortal probation and have us live once again - in joy and happiness - with Him. He has organized His Church and provided everything - including the frequent influence of the Holy Spirit - necessary for us to return to Him.

The choice is ours, and we simply need say, "Speak Lord; for they servant heareth."

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