Back when the telegraph was the fastest method of long-distance communication, a young man applied for a job as a Morse Code operator. Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the office address that was listed. When he arrived, he entered a large, busy office filled with noise and clatter, including the sound of the telegraph in the background. A sign on the receptionist’s counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office.
The young man filled out his form and sat down with the seven other applicants in the waiting area. After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in. Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. They murmured among themselves that they hadn’t heard any summons. They assumed the man who went into the office made a mistake and would be disqualified.
Within a few minutes, however, the employer escorted the young man out of the office and said to the other applicants, “Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has just been filled.” The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and one spoke up saying, “Wait a minute, I don’t understand. He was the last to come in, and we never got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That’s not fair!”
The employer said, “I’m sorry, but all the time you’ve been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message in Morse Code, ‘If you understand this message then come right in. The job is yours.’ None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. The job is his.”
(This version of the story has been modified from Character Out of Chaos: Daring to Be a Daniel in Today’s World by David O. Dykes, 2004, pp. 66-67).
How many of us are like the hopeful job applicants of this story, distracted by the noise of life that we miss the clear message, “If you can hear this, the job is yours”?
Essentially, God says the same thing to us. If we stay focused on Him and His voice we can receive all that he has, “And he that [hears] my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him” (D&C 84:38, modifying the original word “receiveth” with “hears”).
How can we better hear the voice of God? How can we minimize distraction?
These two following suggestions will likely improve your opportunities to hear the voice of the Lord speaking directly in your life while simultaneously diminishing your fear of the world and your jealousy of others.
Take a break from the news. Fear will depart.
Banish social media from your life. Jealousy will vanish.
The voice of God will then be more audible in your life.
Scientific studies and many individuals’ personal anecdotal experiences confirm that paying attention to the news increases fear and anxiety. Consider that of many problems in the world that we daily hear about in the news we have such a limited individual capacity to solve them. What if instead, we took the same amount of time we currently devote to the problems of the world that we can’t solve (that we hear about in the news) and we devoted that same time to communion with God, relationship building in our families, and service in our neighborhoods and communities. There are problems aplenty and sufficient to occupy our time within our own sphere of influence that we can actually address. And it is these problems that God can speak directly to us about, guiding our hearts and hands to love, serve, lift, and encourage.
Again, scientific studies and experiences of many demonstrate that social media raises levels of jealousy and its sister pains discouragement and despair. When we minimize the time we spend watching other people’s manicured lives on social media, where only the very best is put on display, we have more time to focus on gratitude for the blessings God has so richly blessed us with. We then feel inspired to share our love and blessings with those around us, to improve their lives. So instead of wishing that our lives were improved because of what we see on social media, we instead turn to improve the lives of others. As we pour out our cup of love and service, we are miraculously blessed to be filled again and again to overflowing.
As we reduce the noise of life, we can then let the voice of God ring clear and pure in our hearts.
Lead image from Getty Images
Taylor Halverson is a BYU Teaching and Learning Consultant. He recently helped edit the new book Knowing Why: 137 Evidences that the Book of Mormon is True and has published and presented widely on scripture, innovation, entrepreneurship, technology, teaching, and learning and has PhDs in Biblical Studies and Instructional Technology. Click here to request a free eBook Memoirs of the Ward Rumor Control Coordinator, a light-hearted look at our beloved Mormon culture. More at taylorhalverson.com.
Doug Witney was born and raised in Utah County. He has lived a life of service, spending two years in the military in Vietnam, 35 years in law enforcement, and four years as Utah County Commissioner. He is the happy father of 4 children and 17 grandchildren and is married to the former MaryLyne Warren.