Having our wants too high

Let me mention one other common source of great inner noise, often found even among faithful, obedient people. It is what Elder Eyring on another occasion described as “having your wants too high.” When we desperately desire something, it creates a great rush of emotion within us. And high emotion can mask or cover spiritual promptings. Even if the thing we desire is a good thing–such as wanting help for a critically ill family member–our “wants” may be so high that we become unwilling or unable to hear the Lord’s will in the matter.

In summary then, if the voice of the Lord is still and small and it whispers, should it surprise us that his counsel is “Be still and know that I am God” (D&C 101:16; emphasis added). Only as we are still can we learn to hear the still small voice.

Gerald N. Lund, The Voice of the Lord, BYU Devotional, 1997

Read slowly, with questions in mind

Encourage your students to . . . read more slowly and more carefully and with more questions in mind. Help them to ponder, to examine every word, every scriptural gem. Teach them to hold it up to the light and turn it, look and see what’s reflected and refracted there.

Jeffrey R. Holland, “Students Need Teachers to Guide Them,” CES satellite broadcast, June 29, 1992

If our spirits move upwards, it is God that raises them

God governs the world by his influence on the spirits of men, and, whatever good is done at any time, it is God that stirs up the spirit to do it, puts thoughts into the mind, gives to the understanding to form a right judgment, and directs the will which way he pleases. Whatever good offices therefore are, at any time, done for the church of God, he must have the glory of them.

…Whatever good we do, it is owing purely to the grace of God, and he raises up our spirits to the doing of it, works in us both to will and to do. Our spirits naturally incline to this earth and to the things of it. If they move upwards, in any good affections or good actions, it is God that raises them.

Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible (1706), Volume II, Ezra 1:1-4.

Giving yourself to knowledge

“Knowledge will not give part of itself to you until you give all of yourself to it.”

Ibn Jama’ah, “A Memorandum for Listeners and Lecturers: Rules of Conduct for the Learned and the Learning,” in Classical Foundations of Islamic Educational Thought, Bradley J. Cook, editor, Brigham Young University Press, p. 178.

Badr al Din Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn S’ad Allah Ibn Jama’ah was born in 639 A.H. (1241 A.D.) in northern Syria. He died at Cairo in the year 733 A.H. (1332 A.D.), aged 94.

Reservoirs of faith

There are in our lives reservoirs of many kinds. Some reservoirs are to store water. Some are to store food, as we do in our family welfare program and as Joseph did in the land of Egypt during the seven years of plenty. There should also be reservoirs of knowledge to meet the future needs; reservoirs of courage to overcome the floods of fear that put uncertainty in lives; reservoirs of physical strength to help us meet the frequent burdens of work and illness; reservoirs of goodness; reservoirs of stamina; reservoirs of faith. Yes, especially reservoirs of faith so that when the world presses in upon us, we stand firm and strong; when the temptations of a decaying world about us draw on our energies, sap our spiritual vitality, and seek to pull us down, we need a storage of faith that can carry youth and later adults over the dull, the difficult, the terrifying moments, disappointments, disillusionments, and years of adversity, want, confusion, and frustration. . . .

Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle (1972), pp. 110–11, or, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, Chapter 19: Strengthening our Families

Thoughts about creativity

Joseph Smith taught that in knowledge there is power and that the very power of God is related to knowledge and intelligence. You can be creative and make solid contributions in . . . history, art, literature, and communications. Challenge yourself to be in the forefront of some field of creativity.

—Truman Madsen

Why should we all use our creative power…? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.

—Brenda Ueland

Inspiration may be a form of superconsciousness, or perhaps subconsciousness—I wouldn’t know. But I am sure it is the antithesis of self-consciousness.

—Aaron Copland

It is art, and art only, that reveals us to ourselves.

—Oscar Wilde

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before. Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty.

—Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.

—Pablo Picasso

To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.

—Joseph Chilton Pearce

Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music—the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.

—Henry Miller

Art is coming face to face with yourself.

—Jackson Pollock

Life is not what is said, but the process of saying, not the created picture, but the creating.

—Gerhard Richter

Art is just another way of keeping a diary.

—Pablo Picasso

You begin with the possibilities of the material, and then you see what they can do, so the artist is almost a bystander while he’s working.

—Robert Rauschenberg

The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel.

—Piet Mondrian

My destination is always the same but I work out a different route to get there.

—Henri Matisse

Experience, even for a painter, is not exclusively visual.

—Walter Meigs

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Raising the bar

As the challenges around us increase, we must commit to do more to qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Casual prayer won’t be enough. Reading a few verses of the scripture won’t be enough. Doing the minimum of what the Lord asks of us won’t be enough. Hoping that we will have the Atonement work in our lives and that we will perhaps sometimes feel the influence of the Holy Ghost won’t be enough. And one great burst of effort won’t be enough.

Only a steady, ever-increasing effort will allow the Lord to take us to higher ground. I know what some of you are tempted to think: “I’ll have to be careful not to set the bar for myself too high. I wouldn’t want to fail and be disappointed.”

I did a little high-jumping over a bar in high school and in college. I know what it is like to be running toward the bar and see that it is higher than when you jumped last and that you are now looking way up at the bar. Some of you have been high-jumpers so that you know that it is very different when you come toward it so that you can look over it. I know what happens when you look up at that bar. You think, “That bar is over my head. Is it physically possible to put my whole body over a bar above my head?” As I look back, remember I was a physics student, I realized that I must have decided that some law of physics limited me. Well, the laws of physics did apply, but the limits were more in my mind than in reality. When I now see junior high school students, some of them girls, jumping higher than my best, I wish that I were young again. I’d set my expectations higher. More was possible than I thought, and more is possible spiritually for you and for me. And more is necessary. Set the bar a little higher for yourself. And then set it a little higher. In spiritual things you have a heavenly power lifting you beyond where you are now. The Lord promises that unending rise in his own voice in the Doctrine and Covenants: “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:24).

You can set the bar higher for yourself to get more power of faith to pray for the gift of the Holy Ghost. You can set it higher for yourself to have the scriptures opened so that you will come to know the Savior’s voice. You can set it higher for yourself to be obedient in the things He asks of you. And you can set the bar higher in your expectation for peace in this life and your hope, even your assurance of eternal life in the world to come. You can set your expectations for yourself a little higher and then a little higher, with confidence that a loving Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son will send you the Holy Ghost and lift you higher and higher, toward Them.

Henry B. Eyring, “Raise the Bar,” Brigham Young University–Idaho Devotional, January 25, 2005

Refuse to let go until a blessing comes

…if you are struggling with self-control in what you look at or listen to, in what you say or what you do, I ask you to pray to your Father in Heaven for help. Pray to Him as Enos did, who wrestled before God and struggled mightily in the spirit. Wrestle like Jacob did with the angel, refusing to let go until a blessing had come.  Talk to your mom and dad. Talk to your bishop. Get the best help you can from all the good people who surround you. Avoid at all costs others who would tempt you, weaken your will, or perpetuate the problem. If anyone does not feel fully worthy tonight, he can become worthy through repentance and the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Savior wept and bled and died for you. He has given everything for your happiness and salvation. He certainly is not going to withhold help from you now!

Then you can help others to whom you are sent, now and in the future, as one holding the priesthood of God. You can then, as a missionary, be what the Lord described as “a physician [to] the church.”

Jeffrey R. Holland, “Sanctify Yourselves,” October 2000 General Conference

 

 

Scriptures narrow the distance

I find that when I get casual in my relationship with divinity and when it seems that no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns. I find myself loving more intensely those whom I must love with all my heart and mind and strength, and loving them more, I find it easier to abide their counsel.

Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, December 1985, pg. 29