I’ve always been struck with how generous the Lord is with His knowledge—if we seek it. There’s not a better time in any of our lives to “grow into the principle of revelation”1 than when we are desperate to know the answer to a question that has great implications and ramifications for our lives. Questions such as: “Should I marry this person?” “Should I move?” “Should I pursue my education?” “Should I take this job?” Why would we ever settle for the best answers that the world can give us when the Lord stands ready to open the heavens to teach us, mentor us, and speak to us through the whisperings of the Spirit? Personal revelation is something we each want and need.
Recently my husband said to me, “Wendy, the Lord is just as eager to give revelation to you as He is to give it to me.” I’ve understood that principle for most of my life, but it was wonderful to have President Nelson spontaneously confirm that great truth, which truth applies to each one of us. The Lord is just as eager to give revelation to you for your life as He is to give revelation to His prophet for His Church!
When we are willing to “do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly,” as President Nelson counseled, our “spiritual capacity to receive revelation”2 will increase, and we will be led to know what the Lord would have us do.
In this day and age particularly, why would any of us go to the internet for the answer to anything that will affect our lives here and hereafter? Admittedly, we can find fascinating as well as useful information online about everything from the words of a poem or song we love to how to roast vegetables to the best place nearby to buy a falafel. But we can also encounter blatant, intentional lies disguised as truth, as well as tons of incorrect information and misinformation.
And, all the while, the heavens are open 24-7! Our Heavenly Father awaits our prayers.
I had a particularly desperate need of my own some years ago that required some serious spiritual work on my part to entreat the heavens to open for me.
There is no possible way that this can be right!
That was my thought on an early Monday morning as I drove out of the city where I lived at the time. I needed some peace and quiet, and a little time alone, to seek an answer to a major question that had arisen in my life.
For several weeks, Elder Russell M. Nelson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, had been making overtures to get to know me better. His wife, Dantzel, had been deceased for a period of time, and as of late—and at his instigation—we had exchanged books that we had each authored, written a couple of notes to each other, and spoken on the phone a few times.
I had a history of dating wonderful men, getting close to marriage, and then breaking up, or, in several cases, breaking the engagement. I did not want to do that again—and certainly not when it involved an Apostle! And from a more practical standpoint, I wondered, How do you “date” an Apostle? I had no idea. The prospect seemed inconceivable to me—and entirely out of the question.
I had to figure out if I should allow this relationship to move forward or not. And I felt that I needed to figure it out before investing myself in the relationship. How was I going to do that? I didn’t want to pick up one end of this stick unless I was supposed to pick up the other. I knew that the Lord knew the answer. All I had to do was to find out what He knew about this relationship, to find out what His will was for me.
Several months before Elder Nelson contacted me, I had been praying, “Please help me to fill the measure of my creation.” Initially, I had been a bit hesitant to ask. Was I really ready for the answer? Was I serious about doing whatever the Lord wanted, even needed, me to do? I took a deep breath and commenced.
Over time, as I daily continued that prayer, I was led to pray for my unknown husband in a very real way. I was not just praying, “Please help me find my husband,” but praying for my husband: “Please help my husband today.” I had never prayed like that before in my life.
I didn’t know who my husband was. I didn’t have a clue. But I was pretty sure he would be widowed. I also had the feeling that he would have loving, attentive children who would be missing their departed mother and pouring all their love for their parents into caring for, nurturing, and shoring up their father. So my prayers included pleas such as: “Please help my husband have a great day today. Comfort him and strengthen him. Help his children to draw close to him and take care of him as he grieves for his wife and their mother.”
My praying and seeking prompted me to write a letter to my unknown husband—again, something I had never done before. In the letter, I told him that even though I didn’t know who he was, I knew a lot about him. For example, I knew that he loved the Lord, loved the temple, loved the scriptures, loved his departed wife, loved his children. I went on and on telling my unknown husband everything I knew about his marvelous qualities.
Suffice it to say, the Lord had been laying the groundwork for the big question I was facing that day as I headed out of the city to seek some peace and quiet.
The next day, I fasted, immersed myself in the scriptures, and poured out my heart in prayer. I did this from early in the morning until about 4:00 p.m. Then the heavens opened, bringing me a message I never expected. In three different ways, I received a very distinct message. To this moment I can feel the power and clarity with which the Lord let me know His will for my potential relationship with Elder Russell M. Nelson.
I did not expect this answer and certainly had no idea of the dramatic changes into which I would be catapulted, including leaving my profession of more than three decades, moving, marrying a man twenty-six years my senior with a very large family, and joining my life with that of a man whose life was completely consecrated to the Lord.
But, as Joseph Smith said of the fact that he had seen a vision and could not deny it (see Joseph Smith—History 1:25), neither could I deny the clear message the Lord gave me in response to my earnest fasting, searching the scriptures, and supplications in prayer. The heavens had opened, and my life would never be the same.
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God speaks to His prophet on the earth today. And He will speak to you, too. That is the powerful testimony of Sister Wendy W. Nelson, wife of President Russell M. Nelson, as she shares her personal witness of truths that will increase our capacity to receive and act on revelation from the heavens. In this volume, she offers a number of ideas for things we can do—and stop doing—in order to understand the Spirit’s direction more clearly. The Heavens Are Open is available now at DeseretBook.com.