Wednesday, October 3, 2012

THE VOICE........


A Difficult Place to Go
Brian Kershisnik 
What does the “voice” of God sound like?  The scriptures testify that the “voice” of God can be as a sound of the rushing of many waters, maybe like a surf, and even as intense as a great thunder. Lately in my town, we have had some pretty loud and scary thunderstorms. The sound and the ensuing fury of winds are so strong, that the house shakes
D&C 133: 22 And it shall be a voice as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder, which shall break down the mountains and the valleys shall not be found
Sometimes the voice of God can be quiet; “A still, small and quiet” voice.
D&C 85:6 Yea, thus said the still small voice, which whispers through and pierces all things, and often times it makes my bones to quake while it makes manifest; saying... 
I have heard that still small voice. It actually has no sound, but for reasons unknown, it can be felt in the heart. That voice begs our attention and it is hard to avoid it.

This past weekend was the General Relief Society Broadcast, and we had an opportunity to “see and hear” the new President of the General Relief Society, Sister Linda K. Burton. During the April 2012 General Conference, the past President; Sister Julie B Beck was released from that calling. I was stunned; I was attached to her because she had been sustained when I joined the Church. Through her “plain talk” teachings, I was introduced to the Relief Society; and I came away with a whole new appreciation of myself as a woman and as a daughter of God. So I was sad when she was released, and like quite a few women I knew, I wondered what would happen now. She had such an enigmatic personality, and she seemed to come in with on a blaze of glory; she championed womanhood and motherhood; in that all women are mothers, regardless of their situation. Her talk on “Mothers Who Know” actually caught the world’s attention. She seemed to be set on an intense mission to help the sisters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints awaken and rise up to their full potential. I remember reading many tributes to Sister Beck, I wonder if she read them? 
(What I  realized is that Sister Beck was just doing what the Lord has commanded all of his servants the prophets and prophetess to do; represent well that “voice” that is crying in the wilderness, and make straight the path of the Lord and to make ready a people prepared to meet their God.)
I had a lot of mixed feelings about watching the broadcast. I wondered what Sister Burton could possibly say that hadn’t been said already. What type of speaking voice did she have? Would she stop the progress that had been made? Was she a modern woman? It seemed so odd that I would be having such a serious debate on whether or not to watch it. But later on I realized that I was “wrestling” with a very serious decision as to whether I would accept or reject one of God’s prophets, and she is a prophetess, called by God to serve and minister to his people. Then she opened her talk with these words:
My beloved sisters you have been on my mind and in my heart for months as I have pondered this challenging responsibility. Though I don’t feel equal to the responsibility placed upon me, I know that the call has come from the Lord; through his chosen prophet, and for now that is enough. The scriptures say that whether by the Lords voice or by the voice of his servants it is the same. Sister Linda K Burton General Relief Society President.
D&C 21:55 For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith
That was a confirmation to me that she was fully aware of the magnitude and responsibility of her “charge”. The members of her council, First Counselor Carole M Stephens:
Carole M. Stephens, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, talked of “awaking to our duties” through covenant keeping. “We are changed.  We look and act differently. The things we listen to and read and say are different, and what we wear is different because we become daughters of God, bound to Him by covenant,” Stephens explained. Such spiritual awakening can help women face adversity, strengthen others and draw closer to the Savior. Carole M. Stephens 1st Counselor General Relief Society
Sister Reeves shared a testimony that broke my heart; admonishing us to not turn away from God in our prayers and our very lives:
In a tender and candid expression based on personal experience, Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the general Relief Society presidency, testified “of the compassion, empathy and love that our Savior and our Heavenly Father feel for each of us every time we are weighed down by the anguish of sin, adversity and pains of life.” Linda S Reeves 2nd Counselor General Relief Society
Malachi 3: Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, said the Lord of hosts.
I have been inspired to study the Prophet, John the Baptist. All we know of him is contained in the four gospels, and he was prophesied about in Isaiah and Malachi; the Book of Mormon and there is even a short biography in D&C. He was a man born for his time, and his entire life was dedicated and centered on one thing, and that was to prepare the way for the appearance of the Savior.  Just like a host of prophets before him, John the Baptist faced strong opposition from not only the rulers of the day, even the common man. Everyone at that time was in tune to the “appearance” of a Messiah and there were many charismatic persons making claims on being the Messiah. This worried the leaders of the Jews, specifically the Pharisees and Sanhedrin. In John 1:19-23, notice the line of questions and the composure and confidence John exhibits.
JOHN 1:19-23
19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who art thou?”
20 And he confessed, and denied not: but confessed, I am not the Christ.
21 And they asked him, “What then? Art thou Elias? And he said, “I am not”. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, “No”.
22 Then said they unto him, “Who art thou, that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?
23 He said “I AM” the voice of One crying in the wilderness; “Make straight the Way of the Lord”, as said the prophet Esais.                
In verse 23, note there is a “juxtaposition” of the word I AM. John acknowledges his call as the servant; or mouthpiece or voice of  I AM or YAHWEH, whose voice cries in the wilderness to make straight his paths. It is the same as when Moses was also charged:
Exodus 3:13-15
13 Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”
14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” 
15 Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever, and this is my memorial to all generations.’
“What sayest thou of thyself?’ is the question I had for the new Relief Society Presidency. I must confess that I had never struggled so hard to “reign in” my thoughts and doubts and fears concerning this change. I asked myself the question, why is this important in my life? Can this really be something integral to my daily life, the Relief Society? But it showed me that our hearts will fail us at times, and I felt that Heavenly Father knew my struggle and He helped me. I was ministered to by the musical selection, one in particular “I Need Thee Every Hour”. I was ministered to by the testimony of Sister Reeves, who spoke of an incident when her husband was gravely ill, and she was over whelmed by the burden of it, and she said that she “stopped praying” about it and started to pull away from Father. I remember thinking, is she talking to me?  
In the end, I had to repent, and swallow any prideful thoughts and feelings I had, it was a jagged little pill. I was glad when Sister Carole Stephens reminded me of my baptismal covenant; including the one where I promised to “stand for the Savior” in any situation, alive or dead. We should sustain the Prophet and his chosen counselors and have faith that they will be the “voice” of God .   
D&C 88:66-68
66 Behold, that which you hear is as the voice of one crying in the wilderness-in the wilderness, because you cannot see him- my voice, because my voice is Spirit; my Spirit is truth; truth abides and hath no end; and if it be in you it shall abound.
67 And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehends all things.
68 Therefore sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and is shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.   
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