“Fully-Charged Flashlight,” Friend, Aug. 2002, 14
Mark stood up at the podium in the Primary room and opened his scriptures. Rain was pounding the roof, and he knew he’d have to talk loudly to be heard over its noise. He cleared his throat and read:
“‘And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.
“‘And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.’”*
When he finished the scripture, Mark looked up at his mom, who was sitting in the back of the room. She winked at him. They both had a special feeling ever since yesterday’s experience.
Yesterday had been one of those hot and humid summer afternoons so common in Iowa. A storm was brewing when Mark and his mother drove to the local department store.
“Looks like we should have brought our umbrellas,” Mom observed when they got out of the car. “I hope we don’t get wet later.”
Mark looked at the gathering dark clouds and thought he heard thunder in the distance. They hurried into the store.
“This won’t take long,” Mom said as she headed past displays to the middle of the large building. As she stood waiting to pick up some photographs, Mark noticed the store manager moving quickly from department to department giving a brief message to each salesclerk.
The manager spoke softly, but Mark could hear him clearly when he got to the jewelry department nearby. “Find your flashlight and make sure it has fully-charged batteries.” The jewelry clerk nodded, and the manager moved on to the next department, delivering the same message: “Find your flashlight and make sure it has fully-charged batteries.” The clerk in this department shook his head after the manager left and muttered to himself, “I don’t have time for that nonsense.”
Mark looked at his mom, who had also overheard the message. “It’s OK,” she assured him. “Just stick close to me.”
Mark moved closer and took her hand. Just then there was a loud crack of thunder directly overhead and all the lights went out, plunging the store into darkness. Mark heard a brief startled shriek from a few shoppers, followed by some children crying for their parents. Mark was glad he had stayed close by his mother.
Mom squeezed his hand and whispered, “Stand still and wait.”
When Mark’s eyes got used to the dark, he could see daylight coming in from the windows of the storefront, but the light seemed faint and far away. Sounds of panic died away quickly as, throughout the store, small lights came on and started to move.
One light moved toward Mark, and a voice spoke from above it in the dark. “Follow me, please.” It was a store clerk, holding a flashlight. Together Mark and his mother joined a group of shoppers who were already behind the clerk, and they slowly made their way down the dark aisles. The group grew larger the farther they went, being joined by other shoppers and clerks, including the clerk who thought that taking time to find his flashlight was “nonsense.”
Mark felt relieved when they got to the front of the store and could see sunlight coming in the front windows and doors. They no longer needed the clerks with the flashlights, so the clerks left them and turned back into the darkness to find other shoppers and lead them to the light.
As Mark walked to the car with his mom, he jumped over puddles of water that reflected the clearing sky overhead. The storm had come and gone quickly, and now the day was full of sunshine. Evidence of the storm was still all around them, however, and on the way home, Mark saw fallen tree limbs and broken traffic lights.
When they pulled into their driveway, Mom asked him, “Did you know you have a light inside you a lot like those flashlights in the store?”
“Yes. It is the light of Christ. We are born with the ability to tell right from wrong because we have the light of Christ. Sometimes we call it our conscience. Then later, when we are baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, we have an even brighter light.”
Mark thought about this for a moment. “Do I have to keep my batteries fully charged?”
Mom chuckled. “Yes, indeed. And the scriptures tell you how.”
When they got in the house, Mom showed Mark the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 84:46.
“‘Hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.’ What does that mean?” Mark asked.
“For now, listen to your conscience, and after you are baptized, listen to the still, small voice of the Spirit,” Mom explained. “Do what it tells you to do, and your light will always be fully charged.”
“And ready for any storm!”
The rain had stopped pounding the roof of the church, and the sun was starting to filter through the curtains into the Primary room. Mark swallowed hard.
“I know that this scripture is true,” Mark said with a catch in his voice. “And I’m grateful that God has given each of us a light inside us that can lead us safely out of the darkness of any storm.”
“Each of us has a thing we call conscience. We know the difference between right and wrong. We do not have to be [taught] what is good and what is evil. I think we know that. We know when we have done the wrong thing, and we suffer pangs of conscience. We know when we have done the right thing, and we experience a sense of happiness.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley
(Ensign, May 1996, page 92.)