Elder David A. Bednar has spoken many times about receiving personal revelation. But there’s one question he’s heard perhaps more than any other: “How do I know if it’s me or the Spirit?” In this excerpt from the All In podcast, Elder Bednar uses examples from the scriptures to discuss how the Lord is guiding each person along his or her path.
Elder Bednar: I’ve always found it strange that we talk about the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, and yet we seem to have limited recognition that it’s real. We say it—but do we believe it? We’re mortals, we make mistakes, so I’m not talking about every nanosecond of every moment of every minute of every day, [but] as long as we are doing our best and pressing forward on the covenant path, and repenting as we go, then indeed, we are influenced by the Holy Ghost all the time. I think we fundamentally divert ourselves by wondering, “Well, is that me? Or is that the Holy Ghost?” The more time we spend worrying about that question, the more we get in our own way in recognizing the blessings of having the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
I love the 80th section of the Doctrine and Covenants. It’s a mission call to a man by the name of Stephen Burnett. And the Lord says, “Go ‘to the north or to the south, go to the east or to the west, it mattereth not’ unto me.”
Now, some might read these verses and say, “Well, the Lord doesn’t care.” That isn’t what He said. What the Lord knows is He’s going to get Stephen Burnett to wherever he’s supposed to be. What Stephen Burnett has to do is move his feet.
So it’s not that the Lord didn’t care; it’s that Stephen isn’t in charge. He’s going to be where he needs to be. He’ll be influenced, guided, [and] directed. Sometimes we have expectations, and if a blessing or answer doesn’t come when we want, the way we want, we think that the Lord didn’t hear us. We have to be careful not to charge God foolishly.
We don’t frequently get big, fast answers. They’re not typically dramatic. They come line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. And we have to wait on the Lord [and] not impose deadlines on Him. But if we just follow the path and believe—not just say, not just accept, but believe “I can have the companionship of the Holy Ghost,” then the most fascinating line in section 80 is when it says he “cannot go amiss.” You’ll never be led astray.
It doesn’t mean everything goes the way you think it should or the way you want. But you will never go amiss because we’re constantly being guided. Nephi went to Jerusalem three times to get the brass plates, right? Was he messed up the first time? I don’t think so.
He didn’t succeed the second time. Only the third time did he go the Lord’s way, not knowing beforehand the things that he should do. Why do we miss the lesson in that story? Nephi, who we all look to as the ultimate example of faithfulness, had no idea how that was going to work. He just went forward to Jerusalem. Well, that’s what it takes for us. [You] just go, and you begin to recognize the Lord’s hand getting you to the places where you need to be.