Editor's note: Our bi-weekly Friday column, “Found in the Footnotes,” explores some of the footnotes from remarks given by General Authorities and General Officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Maybe it’s just me, but do you ever listen to general conference and think every talk had a similar topic? For me, when I go back and listen to the talks again, I’m astounded to find out that sometimes the theme I heard wasn't actually in all the talks, it was just what I needed to hear at the time.
But there was one instance of repetition that stayed the same as I have started to relisten to the April 2020 conference talks—it's the phrase from Elder Neil L. Andersen’s talk: “I knew it, and I knew that God knew it” (Joseph Smith—History 1:25).
Elder Andersen uses similar versions of this phrase five times in his talk:
- When relating the experience of Joseph Smith
- When sharing the story of President Russell M. Nelson being guided during a heart surgery
- When teaching how Beatrice Magré and the group she was with were blessed after a leader lost his glasses in the ocean
- When describing the witness Floripes Luzia Damasio received before her baptism
- When explaining his own witness of the Book of Mormon while teaching Madame Alice Audubert
In a footnote of his talk, he gives us even further insight into the importance of this phrase and how these moments truly shape our own “spiritually defining memories”:
“I have always been impressed with the words in Joseph Smith—History: ‘I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it’ (Joseph Smith—History 1:25). He would have to stand before God and acknowledge that these events in the Sacred Grove actually happened in his life and that his life could never be the same because of it. “About 25 years ago, I first heard a variation of this phrase by Elder Neal A. Maxwell. He gave this example: ‘Long ago in May 1945 there was such a moment for me on the island of Okinawa at age eighteen. There was certainly no heroism on my part but rather a blessing for me and others during the shelling of our position by Japanese artillery. After repeated shellings which overshot our position, the enemy artillery finally zeroed in. They should have then fired for effect, but there was a divine response to at least one frightened, selfish prayer. The shelling halted. … I had been blessed, and I knew that God knew that I knew’ (“Becoming a Disciple,” Ensign, June 1996, 19).
“Elder Maxwell added not only that he knew, and not only that God knew, but that God knew that he knew he had been blessed. Symbolically for me this raises the accountability a step higher. At times, our Heavenly Father accompanies a blessing given to us with an intense spiritual confirmation that the heavens intervened on our behalf. There is no denying it. It stays with us, and if we are honest and faithful, it will shape our life in the coming years. ‘I had been blessed, and I knew that God knew that I knew that I had been blessed.’”
As I read this footnote, several parts jumped out at me:
- • “[Joseph] would have to stand before God and acknowledge that these events in the Sacred Grove actually happened”
- • “[Joseph’s] life could never be the same because of it”
- • “This raises the accountability a step higher”
- • “The heavens intervened on our behalf”
- • “If we are honest and faithful, it will shape our life in the coming years.”
Doesn’t this make you wonder what these moments are in your life? What are the moments—my moments—that I’ve known, and I’ve known that God has known?
As I reflected on those moments in my life, like Elder Andersen said, I felt “I had been blessed” as I saw how “the heavens [had] intervened on [my] behalf.” Those moments continue to shape my life, and because of that, I do feel that increasing sense of accountability.
So what are your “God knew that I knew” moments? Maybe during this time where life has slowed down, you can take a minute to write them down and treasure the sacredness of these “spiritually defining moments” in your life. As President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wrote in the Ensign many years ago, “I have learned that strong, impressive spiritual experiences do not come to us very frequently. And when they do, they are generally for our own edification, instruction, or correction. . . . We are, I believe, to keep these things and ponder them in our hearts.”
As we reflect on how we have heard the Lord in our lives, I think we will find even more answers to President Nelson’s question, “How do you hear Him?”
Lead image from Shutterstock
Find more teachings from Elder Neil L. Andersen in his new book, The Divine Gift of Forgiveness. In this book, Elder Andersen writes especially to those who are "awakening" unto God—those who are just beginning to discover or who seek the divine gifts and power of repentance and forgiveness in their lives. Filled with powerful doctrine along with stories and experiences, this book will help all readers become more devoted disciples of the Savior. Available now at deseretbook.com.