Years ago my wife and I were enjoying a private visit with her uncle, Elder Rex C. Reeve, then an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. During this visit I asked him how, precisely, does one become sanctified. He responded, “You must keep all of the commandments of God.” Then he added. “Get the Spirit. The Spirit is everything.”
In my experience, learning to follow the Spirit is much more than merely a simple matter of living worthily and listening. Much, much, much more.
We have to be asking questions.
We have enough Latter-day Saints who simply follow the herd, doing everything very similarly to how everyone else in the church does things. But that is not following the Spirit, that is following the herd.
In each of our lives we have many very big decisions to make. And yet, how many of those big decisions are really sincerely, thoughtfully, and honestly prayed about?
A few examples:
Political loyalties and ideologies. Most LDS people simply vote Republican and follow the popular dogma of our time—a sort of hodge-podge neoconservative tapestry of the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. But how many of us really pray about it, study the scriptures to see what God says about it, and study the words of our modern prophets and apostles to see what they have said?
The Book of Mormon is probably the most politically honed book I know of. Likewise, we have been blessed with numerous men of God in our day who have given us inspired direction on the subject. However, most of these men, like Ezra Taft Benson, David O. McKay, and many others, have been flatly rejected and even frequently ridiculed for their testimonies—especially in the Western United States.
Educating our Children. When my wife and I were engaged, we discussed this frequently. We pondered, prayed, and fasted over it. We were directed by the Spirit, very definitely, to home school our children. Why? The Proclamation on the Family gives some very good reasons.
Also, the Book of Mormon and other scriptures tell us, point-blank, “Trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in His ways and keeping His commandments.” (Mosiah 23:14) There are also many other quotes on the subject.
So many people have told me and my wife, “Oh, I could never do that.” If you think you can, or you think you can’t, your right.
Several have said that they just don’t think that home schooling their children is right for them. Fine. But what I want to know is, how many of these Latter Day Saints have sincerely prayed about it? Most don’t. They just mindlessly throw their offspring to the crocodiles at the public schools—sacrificing them to the false gods of Baal, Elkinah, and Pharaoh. Then, years later, they wring their hands and wail, “Where did I go wrong? What more could I have done to save my little Jimmy?”
I could mention several other bold examples, like electronic media; but I will desist.
I think that there are two reasons why we don’t ask these questions.
First, inspired answers may be too hard to accept.
Second, those who have already long-since made these decisions don’t want to face the pain of having to admit to themselves that they really messed things up. Consequently, our LDS society as a whole tends to ignore them, even though our scriptures, our leaders, and our God, have frequently addressed them.
In conclusion, I would just like to say that unless we are willing to ask God the hard questions, we will never get the hard answers. Sacrifice brings the blessings of heaven, but if we rarely even sacrifice because we never ask God when, where, or how He wants us to, how are we ever to receive those greater blessings?