In a devotional broadcast to young adults on Sunday, Jan. 9, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of a skill set they will need for all of their lives: obtaining personal revelation.
“Learning to hear Him is the safest way to go through life. Challenges become less daunting when we know we are guided by the Holy Ghost,” Elder Renlund promised.
Elder Renlund spoke to French-speaking young adults in Canada, France, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. His address was one of six Apostle-led devotionals streamed to Latter-day Saint young adults in different areas across the globe that day.
Elder Renlund, who delivered his address in the language of his listeners, was accompanied by his wife, Sister Ruth Renlund, and Elder Alfred Kyungu, a General Authority Seventy, and Sister Lucie Kyungu, who both also provided brief remarks in French.
The Apostle began by describing a tool that was vital to him during his career as a cardiologist, or heart specialist: a stethoscope, which helps doctors hear sounds that they otherwise could not hear.
After years of practice, he found he was able to use the instrument to discern subtle, sometimes difficult, sounds through the chest wall to help accurately diagnose heart maladies. It became a beloved tool.
Elder and Sister Renlund then offered 14 parallels between the stethoscope and an individual’s experience with the Holy Ghost.
1. A cardiologist needs a stethoscope to hear heart sounds; individuals need revelation to hear God’s voice.
Sister Renlund quoted President Russell M. Nelson, who said, “[I]n coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”
2. Learning to use a stethoscope and learning to receive revelation take work.
Fasting accompanied by prayer as well as patience, or waiting upon the Lord, are forms of work, Elder Renlund taught. “I have learned that it is arrogant and unhelpful to demand revelation or put a deadline on the Lord.”
3. A stethoscope must be in good shape; to receive revelation; individuals need to be in good spiritual condition, in other words, to be worthy.
Just as a stethoscope cannot have cracked tubing and the bell and diaphragm need to be intact, individuals must be striving to keep God’s commandments and turning to God through daily prayer, scripture study and partaking of the sacrament each week to be worthy of the Holy Ghost, Sister Renlund said.
4. Whether it be to use a stethoscope or to receive revelation, one must prepare.
A cardiologist needs years of schooling and experience and spends time gathering medical histories and doing preliminary examinations before listening to and diagnosing a patient’s heart, Elder Renlund said.
Similarly, individuals must become knowledgeable about what God has already revealed and study His words.
5. Recognizing heart sounds using a stethoscope is critical; recognizing the Spirit’s voice is critical to understanding personal revelation.
Sister Renlund pointed out that the voice of the Holy Ghost is mild and still; can be piercing and burning; can touch both mind and heart; brings peace, joy and hope, not fear or anxiety; will invite to do good; and is enlightening.
6. Using a stethoscope and receiving revelation require the elimination of distractions.
To receive personal revelation, walk away from contention and temptations and the noise of the world. “We do not receive revelation when we are angry, agitated or occupied,” Elder Renlund said.
7. Using a stethoscope and receiving revelation require proximity.
A doctor cannot listen to a heart from across the room, Sister Renlund said, and sometimes revelation only comes if one is engaged in a task. In other words, someone is more likely to receive the nudge to serve, help, bless and lift when they are participating or interacting with others.
8. Cardiologists rely on previous findings; revelation forms itself when prior revelation is relied upon.
“Sometimes we recognize a prompting after an event. Similarly, we rely on earlier revelation as a springboard to receive new revelation,” Elder Renlund explained.
9. Confidence in your ability to hear sounds with a stethoscope is key; likewise, faith in one’s ability to receive revelation is essential.
Faith that one can receive revelation helps him or her receive personal revelation, and faith is enhanced if the individual knows what is being asked is according to God’s will, Sister Renlund taught.
10. Cardiologists need to act even when unsure; individuals need to act in faith even when they are not sure they received revelation.
Quoting the late Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Renlund said that sometimes individuals must act and proceed with trust and then understanding will come.
11. When using a stethoscope, be ready for the unexpected; in personal revelation, be open to the unexpected.
“You cannot judge something as not coming from the Holy Ghost simply because it was not what you expected or wanted,” Sister Renlund said.
12. Using a stethoscope has limitations, revelation comes within the limits God has directed.
In the same way that a stethoscope cannot diagnose brain cancer, a Church member will only receive revelation as it relates to his or her calling and duty in the Church, Elder Renlund explained.
13. Cardiologists will not hear sounds that are beyond the limits of hearing, revelation will not be contrary to revealed word.
The Spirit operates within the framework of the scriptures, living prophets, handbooks, and priesthood and organizational leaders. “The Spirit will not prompt us to violate God’s commandments or our covenants,” Sister Renlund said.
Elder Renlund added: “Remember, reason can lead to revelation but cannot replace revelation. No finely crafted edifice of reason can be transmuted by alchemy into revelation.”
14. When cardiologists agree on findings, the findings are more certain; when personal revelation is confirmed by several, revelation is more certain.
“When several individuals in a presidency, quorum, group, or ward or branch council sense the same inspiration, the likelihood of it being direction from God increases. Unity brings power in calling down revelation from heaven,” Elder Renlund taught.