Warning voices

Approaching a landing strip on a Caribbean island, a private plane flew in cloud-shrouded skies. On his first flight at the controls of his new aircraft and unable to see anything beyond the cockpit, the plane's owner-pilot requested landing assistance from a flight control tower.

Beside the pilot sat a man more experienced in flying planes and who had landed on that particular island dozens of times. Alarmed at what he heard from the tower, he told the pilot that if he followed those instructions, the plane would crash into a mountain straight ahead. "I know this island and these coordinates," he told the pilot. "The tower has made a mistake. Ask for reconfirmation of instructions."

For a few nerve-wracking minutes, the pilot chose to listen to the tower's instructions rather than the repeated warnings of his companion. However, when clouds parted for a second or two and revealed a mountain a short distance straight ahead, the pilot — primed by his fellow airman's warnings — reacted instantaneously to avert what most likely would have been a fatal crash.

Much can be said of experience and a warning voice. If we listen to wise family members, Church leaders, friends and other fellow travelers who have already traversed some of life's highways upon which our journey now takes us, we might avoid many difficulties. Spiritual, as well as mortal, lives might be saved.

Sometimes advice is so simple that we might ignore it. For example, an individual undergoing what was deemed a family crisis telephoned a friend who lived some distance away. With obvious patience and empathy, the friend listened and then asked, "Have you received a priesthood blessing?" He then advised, "Call your home teachers and ask them to give you a blessing for comfort and peace. It will help you think more clearly; you will be better able to determine what you should do."

Sound advice was given, but days went by before it was taken. Finally, when the individual asked for and received the blessing, a weight seemed to be lifted off shoulders that had carried a heavy burden. An emotional crisis was averted.

A bishop wisely asked a ward member who sought counsel from him, "Have you prayed about this matter?" Sometimes we rely so heavily on the Lord's servants or others to help us that we don't take our concerns directly to the Lord. In the scriptures, we find excellent role models — wise voices of experience — of what we should do. One is Nephi, who was led by the Spirit of God in the things he did. On one occasion, he attempted to explain to his brothers the teachings of their father. Obviously, they did not understand those teachings. Nephi then asked them, "Have ye inquired of the Lord?" (1 Ne. 15:8.)

People of faith quickly seek from the Lord answers to their questions or directions they should take. When we listen to His answers, a spiritual crisis can be averted.

From time to time, the Lord sends us warning voices that come from inaudible or unseen sources.

One example of such was related by President Gordon B. Hinckley in 1973: "More than sixty years ago, a small boy on an Idaho farm went with his father to the field. While the father worked through the day the boy amused himself with one thing and another. Over the fence were some old farm buildings, derelict and tumbled down. The boy with imagination saw in them castles to be entered. He climbed through the fence and approached the buildings to begin his exploration. As he drew near, a voice was heard to say, 'Harold, don't go over there.' He looked to see if his father was around. He was not. But the boy heeded the warning. He turned and ran. He never knew what danger might have been lurking there, nor did he question. Having listened and heard, he obeyed."

That boy, Harold B. Lee, became the 11th president of the Church. "Through the years he had listened, and the Lord had magnified and protected and guided him by the whisperings of his Holy Spirit."

President Hinckley said. "Be prayerful, my friends, and listen. You may never hear a voice. You likely will not. But in a manner that you cannot explain, you will be prompted and blessed." (Ensign, January 1973, p. 93.)