Gaining a Testimony of the Prophet

I am a big fan of President Gordon B. Hinckley. His easy speaking style, his friendly manner, his relationships with the media at large and his managerial style all won me over – I knew he was a prophet of God and loved to hear everything he had to say. When he died, I was filled with sadness and I instinctively recoiled at the thought of another leading the Church. While I’ve always respected Thomas S. Monson and sustained him as President, I can’t say that I had a separate and bold testimony of him.

Last Sunday afternoon that changed for me.

President Monson’s concluding talk, “Until We Meet Again,” was short and perhaps nondescript in its content: thanking the speakers, the musical talents of the choir, and expressing love for the other general authorities of the Church.

President Monson lays out for general admonitions:

1. To you parents, express your love to your children…Children, let your parents know you love them.
2. Avoid pathways of destruction, in particular pornography (on the internet, via texting, or otherwise).
3. Attend the temple often.
4. Extend humanitarian aid.

None of these are anything new. But for some reason, sitting there watching him, I felt a wave of assurance and a fire within me. I knew he was a Prophet of God. His words of warning about pathways of destruction sounded clear and bold:

Now, a word of caution to all—both young and old, both male and female. We live at a time when the adversary is using every means possible to ensnare us in his web of deceit, trying desperately to take us down with him. There are many pathways along which he entices us to go—pathways that can lead to our destruction…. Seek the help you need to overcome and to change the direction of your life. Take the steps necessary to get back on the strait and narrow, and then stay there.

And just like that, the emptiness I’d long felt over Pres. Hinckley was filled and I could say that I knew he was a Prophet of God. I wish there had been something remarkable or revelatory in his words, some new secret doctrine or hidden ordinance I’d uncovered — it would explain this sudden onrush of emotion that I felt. But there was nothing new. I tend to find it oddly disappointing when revelation happens to me; it always seems like the sudden remembrance of something I’d learned long ago. But the key turned, the door opened and now I can say “I know.” I know it probably should have happened a long time ago. Blame my hard heart.

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Comments

  1. Randy B. says:

    Good stuff Evans. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I had the same experience after President Monson’s concluding talk in his first conference as President. I believe it was the one where he told the story about his wife’s accident and how she asked if he’d paid the taxes on time when she woke up. For me, it wasn’t a signficant talk but I felt the mantle fall on him, so to speak.

  3. I really like this post, but you’re ruining for me that notion that BCC is full of cafeteria Mormons. :P

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    Everyone loved President Hinckley and knew he would be a really, really tough act to follow. I’m sure President Monson knew that as well. Imagine how difficult that would be, to lose your brother and then have to step into his shoes and fill his role for the worldwide church. If anyone could do it, it would be him. I too accept him as the Lord’s prophet at this time.

  5. I love Pres. Monson. Like everyone here I’d take a Pres. Uchtdorf any day as well.

    I’m probably different from many on this site in that I’d also love a Pres. Oaks and Pres. Packer as leaders of the Church.

    Nothing like a little old school tell it like it is to be running the show. But really their current positions are no different for me than if they were prophets. What they say is just as serious and has just as much weight and meaning to me. So they might as well be!

  6. mmiles I’m sorry! If it helps, I eat in a cafeteria almost every day.

    Kevin, totally agree. I am not envious at all of the shoes Pres. Monson had to fill.

  7. I’ve always been fond of Pres. Monson – his kindness is just so clear. (And the stories, of course.)

    I thought it was intriguing in his final remarks on Sunday that he asked us to pray for him and the rest of the GAs. I can’t recall having heard that before. It seems more common to hear thanks for your prayers.

  8. I know he is the prophet intellectually but it has not yet penetrated my heart. I know it will, someday. Thanks for this post.

  9. Thanks for sharing this Steve, it really strikes a chord with me. I remember distinctly the first time this happened for me. It was when President Benson died and Howard W. Hunter took the reigns. When Pres. Hunter died I wondered if I could feel the same way about someone, but the first time I saw President Hinckley walk out as the prophet I was given (purely as a gift) a testimony of his calling. The same thing happened again for me with Thomas S. Monson and in many ways it is unusual for me, but getting a testimony of the new prophet seems to come easy. I am grateful for modern day prophets.

  10. “it always seems like the sudden remembrance of something I’d learned long ago.”

    Thanks, Steve, for expressing how things generally strike me. No matter exactly how I feel it (even when it is something that hits me as, “Wow, I never thought of it like that before”), it almost always includes an element of, “Duh! I knew that.”

    I am fascinated by how the Holy Ghost works according to the individual, and I really appreciate these glimpses I get into others’ souls.

  11. I love this. Thanks.

  12. I’m probably different from many on this site in that I’d also love a Pres. Oaks and Pres. Packer as leaders of the Church.

    Sorry to dash your hopes, but by the time Pres. Monson gets done with the presidency, we’ll be at Bednar. The man is the youngest 81 year old i’ve ever seen or heard. Gratefully, he’ll be with us for a while.

    Steve, Thanks for sharing your witness. It means a lot coming from a DAMU lover like yourself…… ;)

  13. CJ, you remind me of the words of Coleridge, when he sang a laudanum-rigged song of BCC:

    A savage place! as holy and enchanted
    As e’er beneath a waning nacle was haunted
    By Steve wailing as a DAMU lover!

  14. It’s quite common to confuse testimony with learning. While there is most certainly a transfer of knowledge in those confirmations, you may not be able to fill more pages of a book describing your understanding of the subject.

  15. Thanks for this, Steve. It was also a process for me, to transition my testimony of the mantle of prophet from Hinckley to Monson. This absolutely fantastic conference was part of it.

  16. Dave, testimony is learning, but not information transfer. It’s more like adjusting internal alignment or something.

  17. I find I’m still in process on this. President Hinckley was the prophet of my baptism, and will always hold a huge spot in my heart, and I’m learning about the passing of the mantle as my feelings for President Monson develope.

    Thank you for openness and honesty, Steve.

  18. I’m still working on this one. My brain knows he is God’s prophet, but my heart and soul haven’t seemed to have caught on yet.

  19. Antonio Parr says:

    Steve:

    Thanks for sharing something so personal.

  20. Thanks for this post, Steve. I felt a power in that talk as well.

  21. Casual Mormon says:

    Excellent post–and I must echo Ray’s comments in #10.

    Hinkley was the only prophet I had known since becoming active in the church. I had a bad feeling when Monson took over, but I have felt the spirit during Monson’s talks at general conference every time since becoming prophet.

    #7 FHL – I was also struck by the prophet’s request for prayers. I am now trying to remember to pray for them in my nightly prayers.

    This last conference was really big for me. As my username indicates, I am a “casual” mormon…but I was moved to tears so many times throughout this past general conference. I really do love the leadership of this church. Perhaps I should crawl out of my shell and become a better Latter-day Saint. This month, I will do my home teaching for sure!

  22. Steve,

    Nice post. The more years obtained, the more familiar this experience. Change can be unwelcome, but when it comes to the prophets they have a way of winning our hearts.

    I can only imagine how difficult it was for church members when Joseph Smith died.

  23. Scott B says:

    Steve,
    You spoke for many people with this post.

    CJ,
    So said many of Harold B. Lee.

  24. Steve,

    Thank you! I’ve had brief conversations (okay, Facebook status comments) with multiple people on this very subject.

    I know that President Monson is the Lord’s appointed Presiding High Priest. Thank you for facilitating another confirmation of that for me by the Spirit.

  25. I’m glad it worked for you Steve.

    I’m still waiting on Pres. Monson. It’s doubly hard for me because his speaking style never connected with me and still doesn’t. That’s not a criticism of him, just an observation.

  26. You skipped the part where he stared through the bowels of that camera right into the souls of all who were watching and said, “CEASE NOW.”

    President Hinckley was warm and loving, and that’s how I knew and remember him. I don’t recall an instance where he ever scared me. Personally, I feel a lot safer seeing that side of President Monson. If he can stare into my soul through a camera lens and scare me about something I don’t even struggle with, imagine how Satan and his angels must feel every time President Monson gets on his knees to pray. If Satan plans on raging every time we get such a well-prepared giant among men for a prophet, I say let him rage.

  27. Steve Evans says:

    Paradox, I didn’t mean to skip it, really, just didn’t want to make the discussion about pornography abuse. But yes, I was there and heard it and it was an incredibly piercing moment.

  28. Great post, Steve. My age will show, but I remember having a similar experience with Pres. Benson, which thing I never suspected would happen. It was surprising, but also a big relief, and it actually didn’t come during a conference talk. My wife and I were attending a musical concert at Temple Square in the Assembly Hall, when he and his wife came in, and sat in just some of the regular seats with the rest of the audience. I had that same, confirming witness, and it took my breath away.

  29. Steve,

    I think that part of the difference for this talk to me, was it seemed like the first time he was speaking as a “capital P” Prophet. He’s always been a terrific storyteller, and he is always giving advice. But usually that advice has been in cutesy alliterative lists, and he was more direct in this talk. It felt more like a Prophet speaking.

    And FHL (#7), he asked for our prayers when he closed his first Conference as Prophet. I am almost embarrassed to tell you how I know this. I was sitting in another Gospel Doctrine class, where people were throwing around platitudes about doing what the Prophet asks us to. So I looked it up in the Conference Report Ensign (I take it with me to church), and near the end of his concluding remarks, he asked us to pray for him. I’ve always liked him, and it impressed me that one of his first messages as the Prophet was to ask for our prayers.

  30. Beautiful, Steve. Thank you so much.

  31. Thanks Kathy- your praise means a lot to me.

    CS Eric, there’s something to that. The messenger is only as powerful as the message, or somesuch.

  32. This is very nice. I felt similarly. Have been thinking about it very often since the talk, actually.

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