Note: Throughout this post, blue, underlined text is used to mark what I believed to be communication from the Lord through the Spirit, red, bolded text is used to accentuate a lesson I learned, and green, italicized text is used in place of Her name.
I feel electricity coursing through me right now, and have for the past 45 minutes. The Spirit has been so strong tonight as the Lord has taught me.
It started when She told me that she and her sister had work to do that would carry them late into the night and asked if I wanted to come help. I was working at the time, so I told her I couldn’t. When I got off work early, I considered going to help, but felt that I needed to stay home. Logically, it seemed to be because I have homework that I need to finish, but all I knew for sure was that I felt like I should stay home. I started working on my homework and then I received the second distress text from Her hinting that they could use some help. I told her that I couldn’t make it, but this time, I didn’t feel like I needed to stay anymore. I thought about it for a minute and asked if she thought she could use my help. She told me that the work would likely be done by the time I got there, but I decided that I would go to help anyway. As I got ready to leave I still felt nothing to compel me to the contrary, so, at around 10:12, I left my house.
After driving for about 20 minutes I started to feel a slight tug to turn my car around. At first I rationalized that it was simply because I had thought about home and tried to push it from my mind, but as I continued to drive, the tug became more recognizable. (Tonight I equated the initial tug to feeling a tickling in my heart, and the more forceful it becomes, the more it feels like someone squeezing my heart.) At this point I was starting to feel disappointed. I thought “how could he let me get this far only to tell me to turn around?”. My heart sunk as I accepted that I needed to turn around and head home, but as it sunk, I felt a Spiritual static wash over me and knew that it was the right thing to do.
As I turned around and headed back, I started to question if there was something I needed to learn. Recently I’ve had similar experiences to this. One came this past Sunday, as I thought about inviting Her over for Thanksgiving dinner with my family and then going with her to the temple afterward. I had the feeling a few times that I shouldn’t. In my mind, there was nothing wrong with it, but I knew I should obey. When I got home from church, I thought that I would wait until She got off church and then see if I felt it was ok to call and invite her. When 5:00 came around, I felt nothing either way, so I called and invited her, which she accepted. When we finished eating, I mentioned that I wanted to go with her to see the temple lights. She asked if it was ok for me to leave and I immediately had a small feeling that I should stay, which I promptly ignored and said “yes”. We drove separately, and when we were about halfway there I started to get the same feeling I experienced tonight, the one that said I should turn around and go home. I didn’t listen to it then. I thought of how she would feel if I turned around then and she had to show up alone. I knew it would only be a bit disappointing for her at worst, but regardless, I wanted to go and spend time with her. Shortly after we arrived and met with her friends, I could no longer deny that the Spirit was telling me to go home. After explaining to her and saying goodnight, I sprinted to my car and hurried home. I had no idea what was wrong, but it was now well into the clutched heart feeling. When I arrived home, nothing was wrong, my family was gone, and I was left feeling disappointed and confused. Nothing was the matter, so why was it so important for me to be at home?
As I drove home tonight, I started to realize the connection between these two experiences. I thought that maybe there was a principle I needed to learn. As I thought this, I made my first connection: the Lord should never have to tell me something more than once. When I receive counsel from the Lord, I should accept that as the final answer and act accordingly UNTIL I receive counsel otherwise. I remembered the section in D&C in which Oliver Cowdery goes to the Lord seeking counsel and receives this response:
22 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.
23 Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?
I also thought of the experience that Joseph Smith had with Martin Harris in which he returned and asked the Lord the same question three times because the first answer wasn’t good enough for Brother Harris.
As I continued homeward, reflecting on what had happened, the warmth of the Spirit continued to wash over me. I knew that I was on the right track. As I drove, I passed by a car with it’s hazard lights on and nobody in sight. Immediately I had a slight tug to pull over and check on them, but it was gone in an instant and I thought that maybe it was just my instincts. I continued on and scanned the road for the next 2 miles for anyone who might need help. It was then that I made my second connection: what I was experiencing with these feelings was comparable to when someone in the scriptures knew or understood in their heart. As I thought this, I felt the tug to turn around and check on the car with the hazard lights on. After thinking on it for a moment I knew that I should turn around. I exited and started my second U-turn. As I sat waiting to make a left turn back onto the freeway, I made my third connection: my spiritual reflexes were being trained. I laughed at the thought and smiled as the Spirit washed over me more strongly. I no longer questioned that if the Lord urged me to make 100 U-turns tonight, I would make them all. I drove the 4 miles back and made another U-turn back onto the freeway. As I made that third U-turn, I started to rationalize and doubt. “Whoever it is is probably sleeping,” I said and scoffed. “I’m just going to disturb them and they’re going to be more afraid than appreciative”. When I passed the car a second time, I pulled over and stopped. I said a silent prayer and asked if I was doing the right thing. No response came, and I got out and walked slowly toward the car. As I neared, the driver side window rolled down. Inside was a man, probably in his fifties. “Do you need any help?” I asked. He smiled and said “I’ve already got AAA on the way, but thank you for stopping! I appreciate it,” he replied. “It’s no problem, so there’s nothing I can do to help?” I asked again. “Nothing at all, they’ll be here soon, thank you!” he said. I wished him luck and headed back to my car.
I felt invigorated as I walked back, grateful for this positive experience. As I climbed into my car, however, I wondered if the conversation would have been different had I stopped the first time. What if he called AAA after I drove by him? I knew that I couldn’t change it now, but I started to wonder again how I could tell the difference between my own feelings of sympathy and the Spirit telling me to stop and help someone. It was then that I made my fourth connection: as I realized that it doesn’t matter if the feelings I receive come from the Spirit or from my own sympathetic reactions to seeing someone in need, the result is the same. I need to go about doing good on my own, without having to be commanded to do so, and without arguing with myself or wasting time questioning the feeling. I remembered the words of D&C 58 as I thought this: “For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant,” but it wasn’t until I looked it up and saw verses 27-29 that I realized just how applicable this scripture was.
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.
29 But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.
When I arrived home, I sat in my car before going inside and just felt. The entire drive home following my third connection had been electric. I felt the Spirit so strongly. I’m completely amazed by the way tonight unfolded, and so incredibly grateful that it did. Some of the things I learned tonight have been many years in coming to me. One step at a time, one level after another, the Lord steadily teaches me new principles.
2 Nephi 28:30
30 For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.
I could never express with words the gratitude I feel tonight.