“Lessons from the Old Testament: Following the Holy Ghost,” Ensign, July 2006, 64–66
Many years ago, my husband, John, and I spent a week with our young children at a camp for families. We had a wonderful time enjoying the beauty of the mountains, the companionship of the other families, and the enrichment of the programs and classes offered at the camp.
One afternoon John and I left the two youngest children—Trish, age three, and Mindy, age two—at the camp nursery so that we could participate in some of the adult classes. As the afternoon progressed, we called the nursery several times to make sure the children were OK. After one such call, I had a strong impression that we needed to return to the children, even though we had been told all was well.
The nursery facility was some distance away—down a steep incline and up the other side of the canyon—but John and I hurried there. When we arrived, we saw that Mindy was indeed playing happily, but Trish was nowhere to be found. We had no idea how long she had been gone. Fear and dread began to grip our hearts.
The nursery cabin was in an isolated, rugged part of the forest. A deep canyon with a swift stream of water lay directly behind the nursery. Our family was staying in a cabin about a quarter mile from the area. The road leading from our cabin to the nursery was winding and lined with pine forest. Several roads branched off it. We had walked that road only once.
Our first inclination was to dash about, calling Trish’s name. But we soon realized we desperately needed the guidance of the Spirit, so we slipped behind one of the cabins and knelt in prayer, begging Heavenly Father to help us. Immediately upon finishing our prayer, and without saying a word to each other, John and I both began to run back toward our cabin. As we approached, we could see that the normally locked cabin door was ajar. As we entered, we found Trish, on her bed fast asleep. How grateful we were to see her! We knew the Spirit had directed us to her. And we knew the Spirit had led Trish along the unfamiliar, threatening path to find her way home. That Spirit is the Holy Ghost.
I have often related this experience to our lives in mortality. Just as the mountain was full of dangers for our little girl, the world holds influences that would pull us away from heaven. The dark forest is like the evils of the world, threatening to block out the sunlight of truth. The many paths along the road are like the choices that are presented to us each day, many of which look good and are appealing to our senses but do not lead back to our heavenly home. In life, as in the mountains, there are temptations that can confuse and distract us. The fear John and I felt for our child’s safety could have immobilized us, making us unable to respond to the Spirit of the Holy Ghost. Likewise, fear and self-doubt are used by Satan to stop our progression and cloud our perspective, making us less effective and slower to respond to the direction of the Spirit.
Faith is the opposite of fear. So as we seek the Spirit of the Holy Ghost, we must do so with faith. This faith enables us to act upon the promptings we receive. As we act upon the promptings, we are blessed and our faith is strengthened.
The Lord has given us, as members of His Church, the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost does not usually communicate to us in spectacular ways, as we learn in an Old Testament story about the prophet Elijah. In 1 Kings 19, Elijah journeyed to Horeb, “the mount of God.” There he witnessed a great wind so strong that it “brake in pieces the rocks … but the Lord was not in the wind.” The wind was followed by an earthquake, “but the Lord was not in the earthquake.” Finally, the earthquake was followed by a fire, “but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kgs. 19:8, 11–12).
So it is with us. The Holy Ghost most often communicates with us in quiet ways, usually through feelings or impressions. As President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, has said, its comforting influence “can abide with us twenty-four hours a day: when we work, when we play, when we rest. Its strengthening influence can be with us year in and year out. That sustaining influence can be with us in joy and sorrow, when we rejoice as well as when we grieve.”1
The Holy Ghost can be a personal and constant companion to each of us. It can be a revelator, a comforter, and a guide. It can help us make correct choices and recognize the truth. It can enlighten and invigorate our minds. It can bring us peace and joy. It can protect and inspire. But it can bless us only if we live worthy of its companionship. This is up to us. We must pray and ask Heavenly Father to send the Holy Ghost. Then we must do all in our power to qualify ourselves to be worthy of it. When we keep the commandments, our worthiness increases, and we can enjoy the blessings of the Holy Ghost.
Our Heavenly Father has shown us the way back home. He has given us the Holy Ghost to help us return to Him. He knows and loves each one of us. As we follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, we will be able to return to Him. I pray we may all live worthy to claim this rich blessing.
Most Ensign articles can be used for family home evening discussions, personal reflection, or teaching the gospel in a variety of settings.
Ask family members to close their eyes and imagine the following scenario. Read the story, stopping right at the point when the parents found out their daughter was missing. Ask the family what they would do. Finish the story. Testify of how the Spirit can guide us in all aspects of our lives.
Have family members repeat the first and fourth Articles of Faith. Discuss the nature of the Holy Ghost and what having this gift means. Discuss how we can identify the Holy Ghost’s promptings and influence, and invite family members to tell about times when they have felt the Holy Ghost. Using the second half of the article, look for ways the Holy Ghost communicates and how we can be worthy of receiving the Spirit’s guidance.
Ask family members to describe the qualities of a best friend. Discuss how the Holy Ghost can be a personal and constant friend and how we can be more sensitive to the Spirit’s communication.