“Divinely Directed Discipleship,” Ensign, June 2019
I want to address two questions I myself wanted answers to when I was young.
First, if you dedicate your life to God’s service, will He direct your steps and use you for His righteous purposes? Second, if you choose to follow the Savior and walk in the path of discipleship, will the Lord watch over you, guide you, bless you, and fill you with a spirit of joy and fulfillment as He uses you for His purposes?
My beloved brothers and sisters, if you give your hearts to the Savior and strive to walk in faith and compassion on the path He has commanded, I know the Lord will use you in ways you cannot now imagine.
“But I’m no one special,” you say. “I’m average in every way. I’m not particularly smart, eloquent, well-dressed, or even well-behaved. How could God use me?”
Since the beginning of time, our Heavenly Father has reached out to those who are average and used them for His purposes. The Apostle Paul wrote to you today, just as he did to the ancient Corinthians:
“God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
“And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
“That no flesh should glory in his presence” (1 Corinthians 1:27–29).
When it came time for our Savior to restore His Church to the earth, why do you suppose He chose a humble boy with little formal schooling?
Why do you think God told Gideon, a farmer, to keep sending troops home until he had only 300 men left to face an innumerable enemy? (see Judges 7:1–25).
Why do you suppose our Savior chose a fisherman to be His chief Apostle and to lead the Church after He was gone? (see Matthew 16:18).
First, because “the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Second, because God is able to take the most humble clay and create of it a masterpiece. Truly, “if God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
Third, God chooses the weak so that no one can boast and say, “I have done this out of my own ability.”
When Peter, a humble fisherman, takes a small group of believers and then shepherds them into a mighty Church, people lift up their voices and give thanks to God.
When an army of thousands is routed by a band of 300, people give praise to God.
When a frontier boy leaves the plow and translates the most inspiring and life-changing text since the Bible, people glory not in the intellect of man but in the power of God.
Heavenly Father does not need you to be mighty, intelligent, or well-spoken. He needs you to incline your heart to Him and seek to honor Him by serving Him and reaching out in compassion to those around you.
The second thing I want to impress upon you is that if you will follow God in truth and might, He will bless you in ways you cannot comprehend.
In 2006, President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) and the First Presidency determined that there should be a temple considered for San Salvador, El Salvador. We visited a number of properties, including a full city block located in the older central part of the city. As we drove from property to property, nothing seemed right.
Eventually, we passed by an emerging area in the west part of the city. I felt something in that area and walked around a number of blocks. One property surrounded by a wall was of particular interest. I reached out to the owners and received word that the property was not available, so I went home.
But the prophet had said a temple would be built in San Salvador, so I returned to look at other properties. Once again I found myself drawn to the property with the wall, and I made contact again. They repeated that the property was unavailable.
I returned home again but couldn’t shake the feeling that this was where the temple should be. I contacted the family and asked if they would at least meet with me. They agreed to do so. Once again, I traveled to San Salvador, accompanied by Robert Fox, a friend and employee in the Church’s real estate division. That morning we knelt in prayer in my room before beginning the day and asked for the Lord’s assistance.
As we drove through the gate to the home, it was almost like entering a sacred garden. There were trees and flowers, and the busy noise from outside stopped at the gate. Mr. Miguel Dueñas, his brother, and two of Miguel’s sons were awaiting us. They greeted us and escorted us into their ancestral home—which was large and spacious.
We told them we were there by assignment of the president of our Church and that he wanted to bless the country and Church members by building a temple there. I showed pictures of other temples. I said we felt that their property, their ancestral home, was the right place.
It was no surprise when they once again declined, but we had to make the attempt. And so for almost an hour we tried every avenue of approach, such as a straight outright purchase, an exchange of property, and every other option we could think of. But they were firm in their resolve and said no to every offer.
We had done everything we could do. We had prepared. We had done the best we knew how. But it simply was not enough.
My heart was filled with an urgent prayer: “Father, please help us to know what to say or do.”
At last it became evident that our trip had been in vain. It appeared that nothing would change their minds. But as we began to prepare to leave, something happened. The Spirit of the Lord entered the room. It was tangible. Everyone in the room felt it. It was one of the most powerful spiritual experiences I have ever felt.
Miguel Dueñas, who was not a member of the Church, was clearly touched. With tears in his eyes, he turned to his brother and said, “If we can’t sell our ancestral home, couldn’t we sell the very best of the property we have across the street?”
His brother responded affirmatively. We then talked about the other property. They owned several hundred acres across the main road from their ancestral home, with the heart of the property jutting out slightly so that every car that traveled the road would see the temple.
That was the property they offered for the temple of the Lord. It truly was a miracle. From that moment forward, the blessings of the Lord attended the process. On August 21, 2011, President Henry B. Eyring, then-First Counselor in the First Presidency, dedicated the temple to the Lord’s service.
I testify that a beautiful temple graces the hills of San Salvador not as a result of anything Brother Fox or I said or did. It stands there today because of the powerful ministerings of the Holy Spirit of our Almighty God.
If the Lord cares enough to send His Spirit and make available a site for a temple, do you not suppose He will send His Spirit and prepare your heart and guide your steps?
You are inexpressibly more precious than a plot of land. You are a beloved child of your Eternal Father. You are the offspring of the God of the universe!
Do you not suppose that He is mindful of you? Do you not suppose that He will use you and bless you in ways more glorious than are possible for you to imagine?
The scriptures tell us that if we “trust in the Lord with all [our] heart; and lean not unto [our] own understanding,” if in all our ways we “acknowledge him, … he shall direct [our] paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).
King Benjamin perfectly summarized the message I wish to leave with you. He said: “I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness” (Mosiah 2:41).
I raise my voice in praise of and witness to this truth. I testify that I have seen the promised blessings of God fulfilled over and over in my own life and in the lives of many others.
I promise that if you will but incline your hearts to your Father in Heaven, if you will strive each day to love and follow Jesus Christ more perfectly, if you will in compassion and kindness share the burdens and lift up the hands of those around you who are struggling, if you will seek to become true disciples of our beloved Savior, the Lord God of heaven, will direct your paths. He will use you for His sublime purposes. He will bless you in ways you cannot imagine.