“If President Russell M. Nelson was standing here this morning and he asked each of you what he could do for you, how would you respond?”
That was the question Elder Michael T. Ringwood, General Authority Seventy, posed to Brigham Young University students as he began his campus devotional on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
A woman in the Old Testament answered a similar question of the prophet Elisha. “What is to be done for thee?” Elisha asked the woman through his servant, after staying in her home. The woman answered, “I dwell among mine own people” — or as Elder Ringwood interpreted, “I have everything I need; I am at home with family.” Or “We have plenty and to spare” (2 Kings 4:8-13).
But Elisha wanted to know what more he could do for her. So he called for the woman to come back and promised her a son (his servant told him she had no child and her husband was old). Elisha would bring this son back to life and later tell the woman, her husband and son to flee into a different land because of famine.
“The prophet of the Lord knew what the Shunamite woman needed — needs she probably believed could not be addressed, and future needs she couldn’t possibly anticipate,” Elder Ringwood told BYU students.
“But because she answered the call of a prophet and believed in his promises, her needs were met.”
Speaking of the many gifts Heavenly Father has given His children to navigate life, Elder Ringwood highlighted the gift of a living prophet — President Nelson, who was set apart as the 17th President of the Church two years prior to the day — “who calls us to act and then promises us the very blessings we need now, in these last days.”
“I testify that we do, in fact, have all the gifts we need, but only when our gifts include the gift of a living prophet,” he said.
Gifts from a loving Heavenly Father
Just as heroes in classical stories and legends receive gifts from a mentor as they undertake a quest, Heavenly Father has provided His children with gifts for the journey of mortality and “for the greatest quest of all: to come unto our Savior and gain eternal life.”
Without these gifts “we cannot succeed,” he said. “Yet with them we are transformed — strengthened and readied to return to the presence of our Eternal Father and receive all that He has.”
The foundational gift given to all is the Light of Christ, the ability to know right from wrong. The gift of agency is a crucial part of God’s plan for us to return home and requires another gift: the gift of commandments.
“Without commandments — without borders and boundaries — it would be difficult to know that we are exercising our agency wisely and make the choices that will lead us back to Him,” Elder Ringwood said.
Knowing His children would falter, Heavenly Father gave the gift of His Son Jesus Christ and His Atonement. The gift of Christ nourishes and heals — it’s what Lehi describes as the fruit of the tree of life. And because of the gift of grace, “our hearts, desires and nature can be made holy.”
It is through the gift of the Holy Ghost that God’s children can seek truth and know Jesus is the Christ. “Without this vital and essential gift, we would never exercise the faith required to follow Christ and overcome our poor decisions. Without the Spirit, we could never find comfort amid the trials of life. Without this messenger of grace, we could never be sanctified.”
Recognizing His children would need another gift to survive the challenges unique to their day, God gave the gift of a living prophet.
Promises of answering the call
The Old Testament woman’s needs were met because she answered the call of a prophet and believed in his promises, Elder Ringwood said. The same happens for Latter-day Saints today as they heed President Nelson’s calls.
President Nelson issued a call to make a regular appointment with the Lord and to be in His temple. His promise is the Lord will bring about the miracles He knows are needed.
He issued a call to transform one’s home into a sanctuary of faith and center of gospel learning. His promise is the influence of the adversary will decrease.
He issued a call to restore the correct name of the Lord’s Church and promised God will pour down His power and blessings, “the likes of which we have never seen.”
“I invite you to search President Nelson’s teachings, especially from general conference,” said Elder Ringwood. “Hear the Lord’s call to you. Obtain His promises. And then prepare to count the miracles and blessings that come as a result.”
Speaking to those in the audience who may be dealing with heartache, illness, anxiety, depression, loneliness or heavy concerns, Elder Ringwood said, “I bear witness that precious gifts of Heavenly Father are still there for you, and they are enough to get you to the only destination that matters in the end.
“As you keep your eyes on God’s work and glory — your immortality and eternal life — please remember one more of His many gifts from heaven. It is the gift of happiness. Heavenly Father doesn’t just want us to return home. He wants us to find happiness in doing so.”