I realized something yesterday, that was not surprising, but it somehow still surprised me a little. I’ll have to do some explaining, to let you know what I mean.
Last year, when Pres. Hinckley died, I felt as if I had lost a friend. No, I didn’t know him personally, in all honesty, but after following him for over 20 years, I knew enough about him – had read the books written by and about him – to feel that I did know him. Pres. Kimball was the president of the Church, when I was baptized, and had been for a few years, so that I didn’t hear very much about any other presidents. I was a missionary, when Gordon B. Hinckley was called as third counselor in the First Presidency – presidents Romney and Tanner were incapacitated because of illness, as was Pres. Kimball.
Now, those were the days, when the General Conferences started trickling across the pond to England, some time after the conference – on VHS tapes, that we gathered to watch in stake centers. Printed media was available to some extent, but for one, it was relatively much more expensive, and I had practically been a member only about a year before I left for my full-time mission. I had never, ever seen a live General Authority until I met some members of the Twelve and the Seventy as a missionary.
First, I was unimpressed, which is not to say I didn’t have a testimony that we do indeed have a living prophet, and that the other ordained Apostles were really special witnesses of Christ; as such they were and are prophets, seers and revelators (remember, that “the dtestimony• of Jesus is the spirit of eprophecy“, as affirmed by the angel in Rev 19:10). I first met Pres. Hinckley, when I attended a temple dedication. Shaking his hand and exchanging a couple of words with him had an electrifying effect on me. In a way, that can be fully understood only by those, who have experienced it, I knew he was a true prophet. That’s not the only time it’s happened, either – I have had similar moments.
So now, with Pres. Hinckley passing, I felt the loss personally in some ways. But I also looked forward to seeing, what Pres. Monson is going to do. I mean, prophets are still human, and personalities still matter. I wasn’t expecting anything earth-shattering, but was still somehow almost disappointed by what I felt. It didn’t bother me so much in April 2008, as I was excited about Elder Christofferson – I very much liked his demeanor and the spirit he exuded. But last October, I started feeling a little concerned. I started wondering, if I had been putting too much stock in a mortal man, whose personality I happened to like, prophet or not.
What I did, I started to pray, study and seek a certain kind of personal revelation, that would bring peace to me. As I said, it’s not like I didn’t have a testimony on some level, I just didn’t feel it the way I was used to. Yesterday, as Pres. Monson told us about how, after much prayer and fasting, the living Apostles had decided to call Elder Andersen to fulfill the vacancy among the Twelve, I received a confirmation, not only that the call to Elder Andersen came from the Lord, but that the caller – Pres. Monson as the chief Apostle – was really all that I had the right to expect. Later, the conviction deepened as the meetings progressed, and I felt a deeply satisfying, peaceful feeling, almost relief: I wasn’t left alone, but had the Spirit renew the testimony I have; not only about the calling of our Apostles, but more importantly, about the divinity and the reality of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, his Atonement and what all that means to me.
I wrote this to illustrate how a testimony is usually gained: By prayer, study and pondering – and then sometimes acting as if we had already had the confirmation, with the knowledge, that the “he that bcometh• to God must believe that he is, and that he is a crewarder• of them that ddiligently• eseek• him” (Hebrews 11:6). By small means… For every Paul, Moses, Alma and Lamoni there are thousands, who have no extraordinary things happen to them, but the Spirit touches their hears, after they diligently seek the Lord.
At the end of the day, Pres. Monson is still not my favorite speaker. But then, personal likes and dislikes are not the deciding factor here. We each have our quirks, and we are here to learn from our experiences.
Looking forward to hearing from Elder Anderson in about 2½ hours.