Saturday, April 4, 2009

Preparing for Conference Today

There is hardly anything I enjoy more than conference weekend. I really mean that. It draws us together as a family. I love our special foods. I love being with my wife and children all weekend long.

When we honor ourselves by paying close attention to the words of the living prophets. it seems that the Lord's promises distill on us like spring rain. "And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought...and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not" (Isaiah 58:11).

I really appreciated my wife's counsel during family night this past week. She quoted a talk given by Wendy Watson Nelson at BYU-Idaho in 2002 about taking a question to conference. She was engaged to a man at the time and had a concern. Here's an excerpt from that talk. It's a long excerpt, but it is powerful:

"In preparation for April general conference, which was just two weeks away, my bishop taught me a truth I had never known before. Although I hadn't spoken to him about my engagement or my concerns, when my bishop offered this truth over the pulpit, he was speaking to me. He didn't use my name—but I knew he was talking directly to me. He even let others listen in. But clearly, he was speaking to me.

"Here's the truth my bishop spoke: 'If you have a question that you need answered, if you will prayerfully and humbly listen to general conference, you will get it answered every time. Perhaps at the time, perhaps over time, but you will get your question answered every time!'

"Did I have a question? Absolutely. And I was desperate for an answer from the Lord.

"I prepared myself for that general conference by fasting and praying, and by purchasing blank audiotapes. Now, I realize that audiotapes are not typically requisite for listening to general conference; however, this was in the days that not all conference sessions were broadcast to Canada, and I wanted to audiotape the sessions for my Mom and Dad.

"I can still picture the Saturday of that April general conference. I listened eagerly to every talk. I listened with my ears, mind and heart poised and ready to hear the answer to my question: 'Should I marry this man?'

"I experienced this day of general conference unlike any other. It was a highly unusual day of talks, because each and every talk was on marriage! Every single talk! Multiple speakers—but only one topic: marriage—or so it seemed. And the most amazing thing to me was that at the end of all those Saturday addresses on marriage, the clear answer I received was, 'Don't marry this man.'

"I can still picture, at the conclusion of conference, turning off the TV, shutting off the cassette recorder, and walking directly and calmly to the telephone, and dialing my fiancé's number to cancel our engagement.

"I wasn't nervous at all. I was at peace. I had asked. And I had received my answer. So, what's a young woman to do when she has asked, and then heard and felt the voice of the Lord telling her what to do? What's a young woman to do but to follow through?

"Fast forward several years. My ex-fiancé is married and he appears to be happily involved in family life. I have completed my masters degree, have worked a couple of years, moved to a new city, dated some great men, and continued to be directed by the Lord to pursue further education.

"Another fast forward a couple of years: It is Christmas time and among the cards and letters is something from my ex-fiancé. It is a lengthy, hand-written letter from this now no-longer-young man, declaring that he is choosing a lifestyle inconsistent with gospel teachings and Church standards, and telling me of the sorrow that has come to his wife and family since their recent divorce and his declaration.

"My dear young brothers and sisters, things are not always the way they appear to be!

"Years ago on that Saturday evening when I ended my engagement, it seemed to many people—many who chided me for the breakup, many who tried to convince me to change my mind—that I was terminating a relationship with a marvelous young man, a man with whom I could experience much love and joy, as we entered into the covenant of marriage, and commenced raising up a family to the Lord.

"How unkind could I be? How cruel! How unwise to turn away from this great man and his love—especially at my age (I was 24 after all!!) To many people, it seemed like I was throwing away an opportunity of a lifetime. But things are not always the way they appear to be.

"The Lord knew this young man's heart, mind and actions. And when I asked, with as much preparation and faith as I could muster, and as I listened to the messages of general conference, I was guided (some days it still feels more like 'snatched') away from something that looked good but wasn't."

I am taking my question to the Lord this morning. And I have complete confidence and faith that I will get my answer. I encourage you to do the same. Then I'd love to hear from you—not your personal and private answers, but whether you tried it and whether it worked for you. I know it will work for any of us, if we just have faith.

Have a wonderful conference weekend.

2 comments:

  1. After writing down over a dozen ideas and insights on my question yesterday, I got an interesting answer after I got home from priesthood meeting: on my desk was an astounding piece of mail. So not only did I get spiritual promptings in answer to my question, but also a physical one as well. I am very, very blessed.

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  2. I agree with you, conference is the best.

    I also believe that answers come to us at conference just as they do while reading the scriptures.

    Elder McConkie said: "I sometimes think that one of the best-kept secrets of the kingdom is that the scriptures open the door to the receipt of revelation" (Doctrines of the Restoration, ed. Mark L. McConkie, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1989, p. 243).

    Of course we don't have to wait for conference to get answers to our prayers, we can call on Heavenly Father whenever there is a need.

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