"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
February 19, 2014
The Gift of the Holy Ghost
by Marian Stoddard

A week or so ago, I was asked to give a talk on the Holy Ghost for a convert baptism. I accepted the assignment and asked for guidance through prayer. The verse that came to me was this: “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.”

It came to my mind with music, actually, from a cassette recording that is now lost, of musical settings to some of the scriptures from the missionary discussions.

I had to go find the scripture, knowing that it was early in the Doctrine and Covenants, but not remembering exactly where. It’s in section 6, verse 36, at the end. That section is counsel to Oliver Cowdery. I began by reading it.

“Doubt not.” Do we ever doubt? Of course we do. We all run into doubts, and we all run into questions. Each of us will have those times that set us back and make us wonder why. What should you never doubt? That you have a Father in Heaven who knows you and loves you.

Are there things you can’t answer? Bring them to Him, the questions we don’t have answers for, and realize that we just don’t have answers yet. The longer we continue in the path set for us, the more experience we gain, the more we find those answers.

A baby learning to walk has been pulling up, hanging on, while practicing moving those little feet along. That baby will stumble, wobble, and fall over, but we clap and cheer for his efforts. He is driven to get up on his feet and go; he doesn’t say, forget about this, and give it up. He keeps working on it until he has gained the strength and balance he needs, and he walks and then runs.

Pretty soon it’s as if he never did anything else.

Spiritual experience is the same way. As you receive the gift of the Holy Ghost you may be a little uncertain at first, and you may wobble or stumble over it at times. You have to learn to recognize and follow those promptings and counsel. But that same impetus to learn and to know our Father again drives us all forward, searching for truth. It has brought you here to be baptized.

The Church offers you friends who will clap and cheer for you, like that little one. Wherever you go, you can walk into church and find a home. There will be people who will be anchor points to you when you need that, and someday you will be the one who is able to offer strength to someone else who needs it.

One of the apostles made an analogy about the Spirit. The truth is you have to experience it to recognize it. He said it was like salt. If you’ve never had salt, there’s no real way to describe how it tastes; you just have to taste it for yourself.

You’ve done that; you’ve felt the Spirit as you have studied with the missionaries, and the Lord’s promise is that you can have that same Spirit as a gift and companion in your own life. It is the very same gift that the prophet and the apostles have been given; the gift is not different in substance.

It is the gift of the Holy Ghost, which is given to each one of us as we are confirmed members of his church. You have the promise that in your own life and stewardship you can be guided as fully as they are. That’s wonderful to think about.

Moroni promises that by the power of the Holy Ghost we may know the truth of all things. All things — even things that aren’t necessarily spiritual, but need to be answered in your own circumstances. Bring all of your worries, troubles, and questions to Him. He may not take them away, but he will bring you peace and strength and carry you through whatever you may have to go through.

If your heart tells you something your mind doesn’t know, you are being taught by the Spirit. You can learn to rely on that gift. Paul wrote to the Galatians, in Galatians 5:22 that “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, [and] faith.”

Those are the effects that prove to you that you are on the right course. Following the direction of the Holy Ghost will bring you peace, patience, gentleness, and an increase in love. You will find joy.

“Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” Bring anything that troubles your peace to your Father in Heaven. Do not forget that you know in truth that He is there for you. Rely on the things you have felt in your heart and spirit, and do not doubt that He is real and that He loves you and will help you.

The keys by which you will be baptized today are real. The joy and hope are real, and the promises are real also. The power and gift of the Holy Ghost are real, and they are yours as you are baptized and confirmed a member of your Heavenly Father’s church here on the earth. We are all here for you as well, as fellow Saints.

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About Marian Stoddard

Marian J. Stoddard was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in its Maryland suburbs. Her father grew up in Carson City, Nevada, and her mother in Salt Lake City, so she was always partly a Westerner at heart, and she ended up raising her family in Washington State. Her family took road trips all over the United States and Canada, so there were lots of adventures.

The adventures of music, literature, and art were also valued and pursued. Playing tourist always included the local museums as well as historical sites and places of natural beauty. Discussions at home, around the dinner table or working in the kitchen, could cover politics, philosophy, or poetry, with the perspective of the gospel underlying all. Words and ideas, and testimony and service, were the family currency.

Marian graduated from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland, and attended the University of Utah as the recipient of the Ralph Hardy Memorial Scholarship, where she was graduated with honors, receiving a B.A. in English. She also met the love of her life, a law student, three weeks after her arrival; she jokes that she had to marry him because her mother always wanted a tenor in the family. (She sings second soprano.) They were married two years later and have six children and six grandchildren (so far). She treasures her family, her friends, and her opportunities to serve.

Visit Marian at her blog, greaterthansparrows.  You can contact her at bloggermarian@gmail.com. 

Marian and her husband live in Tacoma, Washington. Together they teach those who are preparing to go to the temple for the first time, and she also teaches a Stake Relief Society Institute class.

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