Heeding prophetic counsel

Frequently, when President Gordon B. Hinckley enters a venue where members have gathered to listen to his counsel, the congregation spontaneously sings, "We thank Thee, O God, for a prophet, To guide us in these latter days. . . ."

Members are emotionally tender during these moments. They wipe tears from their eyes and struggle to maintain composure. Being in the presence of the Lord's prophet is, without doubt, a sublime experience. If only every member could have that opportunity!

Whether we're in the same room, or watch on a screen from a distance or read counsel in printed form, we are blessed to receive communication from the Lord through His spokesmen on earth, His prophets and apostles. We testify that when they speak under direction of the Spirit, it is as if we are listening to the voice of the Lord. (See Doctrine and Covenants 1:38.)

Many have little challenge doing the great, difficult or heroic things asked of them by the Lord's servants. For example, over the years hundreds of thousands have put their lives on hold to answer calls by prophets to serve as full-time missionaries. Many have left comfortable homes to live in less desirable circumstances, to subsist on food unfamiliar and often unpalatable. They've missed out on events of home and family life and milestones such as birthdays and weddings, and the naming and blessing of nieces and nephews and, for the older missionaries, grandchildren. Some have mourned from afar in their fields of labor as funeral services have been held back home for loved ones who have died.

Countless missionaries have walked innumerable miles to take the gospel message to others, wearing out shoes and suffering blisters. They've endured extremes of hot and cold weather. They've left their comfort zones to teach people in various circumstances, from hovels of the extremely poor to mansions of the very rich. Some face peculiar challenges, such as snakes in showers or scorpions in shoes.

Most often, missionaries have served and still serve without complaint, considering their time as belonging to the Lord. After their missions, most say, "It was the best time of my life."

Returned missionaries are able to say this of the months or years that probably have been the most arduous time of their lives because they have served so willingly, unselfishly and wholeheartedly.

Imagine the joy and even satisfaction we can receive if we demonstrate willingness to heed prophetic counsel in "smaller" realms of service asked of us as compared with those required of full-time missionaries in answering calls on a "grander" scale.

In reality, there is no such thing as a "small" calling in the Church or a "small" request by a prophet. Whatever we're asked to do has its own degree of value, serves its own purpose and fits into the overall function of helping build the Lord's kingdom. Whatever our calling might be, we all are serving Him. Blessings and fulfillment come when we serve as best as we are capable and diligently heed prophetic counsel.

What could be more glorious than to be filled with light and truth? Disobedience takes away light and truth. (See Doctrine and Covenants 93:39.) The scriptures don't differentiate between disobedience to "large" or "small" directives from the Lord or His prophets.

Over the years, apostles and prophets have given direction on many topics. They've asked us to pay our tithing, to be worthy and attend the temple, keep the Sabbath holy, serve others, be diligent in our callings, be kind to our neighbors, be good citizens, hold family home evening, pray individually and with our families, study the scriptures and attend our meetings. It would take pages for a complete listing of prophetic counsel.

As we sing Hymn No. 19, we might ask ourselves if, truly, we are thankful for a prophet and if we will follow guidance given us in these latter days. Will we be obedient in the small things asked of as as well as the noble and great?

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