As I reflect back on some of my experiences this week, there is one in particular that stands out to me that I wish to share. I believe that this experience demonstrates a concept that I am beginning to understand after a series of trying events. The following experience is an illustration of the role of revelation in missionary work:
Yesterday I went on exchanges1 with my District Leader, Elder Mcclure. Prior to visiting an excommunicated member, Elder Mcclure invited me to prepare a spiritual thought to share with him. I accepted and Elder Mcclure proceeded to tell me a little about the man we would visit that evening. Here is what Elder Mcclure shared: 2”Brother Judd is an excommunicated member of the church that has recently lost 100 pounds. We visited him and I felt impressed to offer to dedicate him home. In the blessing I was prompted to cast out 3evil spirits that were residing within his home. Brother Judd thought the event was a little silly at first, however, when his friend came over shortly afterwards she exclaimed “what have you done to your house? The bad Karma is gone!” There was a distinct difference in the atmosphere of Brother Judd’s home. He recognized this miracle and his testimony was rekindled. Currently he is working on quitting smoking so that he can be baptized again. So far he has shown progress”.
Here was my mental response to what he shared: “Well, that’s a great story, however, I don’t see how there could be anything for me to share with him just based on that limited information.” As I pondered on the information I was presented with, I attempted to analyze this imaginary character that represented brother Judd. I tried to formulate what the best prescription might be for this spiritual patient. Perhaps I would have focused on a topic related to the Word of Wisdom if I had known all of the details listed above(I don’t think Elder Mcclure mentioned smoking or baptism now that I think about it). Essentially what I came to realize was that I had nothing to share with this man, and that there was no way that I could possibly find the right scripture to share with him if I could not even discern his needs. So I decided to turn to the Lord and depend upon Him to direct me towards the message he wanted me to share. I began by flipping through a combination of scripture mastery scriptures and scriptures that I was familiar with. For some reason, one of the scriptures 4 stood out to me. I didn’t understand why, and I didn’t understand how it would relate, so I continued looking for other scriptures that seemed more logical to share. I found no other scriptures that seemed appropriate for the situation, and I found that the scripture I had dismissed previously had continued to come to my mind. The scripture was Isaiah 1:18. I was not ver anxious to use this scripture because I could not think of anything to say about it. However, as I began to study the scripture using the Bible Dictionary, the footnotes, the topical guide, I began to receive greater insights into the Atonement, ad I begin to feel the spirit prompting me and confirming the truths that I learned. I received quite a lot of revelations through this experience, however, I was able to clearly distinguish which things the Lord wanted me to share with Brother Judd and which things I was supposed to keep to myself. That evening as I met Brother Judd, my first impression was-”Oh, no, that was the wrong message to pick for him”. (He did not appear to be very educated-which quite frankly turned out to be true- and the message I had prepared was somewhat deeper than what I would typically share). However, as I got to know him better, I began to feel the spirit testify in my heart and mind that this was the perfect message for Brother Judd. When it came time for me to share the spiritually thought, I was able to testify of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Ghost. I felt it and Brother Judd felt it because afterwards there was a physical change in his countenance and in his demeanor. He shared with me his own testimony, and he expressed his desire and determination to come unto Christ, be baptized, and endure to the end. After visiting with Brother Judd, Elder Mcclure and I visited a family in his ward for a dinner appointment. AT this appointment Elder Mcclure enthusiastically expressed his admiration for the insightful spiritual thought I had shared with Brother Judd, and then volunteered me to repeat what I said for the White family to hear. Although I shared the same scriptures and essentially the same insights that I had used earlier, it was a completely different experience. The Spirit didn’t seem to be present, and the message didn’t seem to have much of an impact. As I reflect back on these experiences, what I have come to recognize is that the Lord permitted me to gain this revelation so that I could share His message with Brother Judd. This message was not intended for the White family, and as a result, the Spirit could not carry it into their hearts the same way that it could with Brother Judd.
The key to revelation is knowing who it is intended for. Most often we receive revelation for ourselves. Occasionally it may be for others in relationships such as that between a husband and wife. Missionaries can receive revelation regarding how they teach investigators. Parents can receive revelation for raising their children. The prophet can receive revelation to help him lead the church. However, in all of these instances, there is a specific person or group of people to whom the revelation is intended for. Only when the intended audience is present will the Holy Ghost truly testify of the truth of the message being shared. Spiritual experiences cannot be forced, triggered, or arranged. They come only as the Lord desires them and only to those whom He has prepared to receive them. The message that I shared with Brother Judd belonged to him, it was not a message that I ought to have shared with others when I had not been prompted to do so.
~Elder Kyle Jensen~
1-Exchange=swap companions for a day in this case I spent the day in a different area/ward.
2-This is not a perfect record but rather my own attempt to paraphrase what he said.
3-Evil was not the word he used, I do not recall the exact wording.