The apostle Paul encourages us to not forget the times in our lives when we felt the hand of the Lord. He said, “But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of affliction; …Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward”
(Hebrews 10: 32, 35 in the Bible). He is saying remember spiritual experiences so that they can help us later through challenging times to our faith and spiritual confidence.
I read an interesting talk by Neil A. Anderson on this subject. “When personal difficulties or world conditions beyond our control darken our path, the spiritually defining memories from our book of life are like luminous stones that help brighten the road ahead.” He related an experience that Doctor Russell M. Nelson had when he was a prominent heart surgeon and was faced with a difficult heart surgery situation.
Heart Surgeon’s Experience
“Years ago, an elderly stake patriarch with two failing heart valves pleaded for Dr. Nelson to intervene, although at that time there was not a surgical solution for the damaged second valve. Dr. Nelson finally agreed to do the surgery. Here are President Nelson’s words, ‘After relieving the obstruction of the first valve, we exposed the second valve. We found it to be intact but so badly dilated that it could no longer function as it should. While examining this valve, a message was distinctly impressed upon my mind: Reduce the circumference of the ring. I announced that message to my assistant. ‘The valve tissue will be sufficient if we can effectively reduce the ring toward its normal size. But how? … A picture came vividly to my mind, showing how stitches could be placed—to make a pleat here and a tuck there. … I still remember that mental image—complete with dotted lines where sutures should be placed. The repair was completed as diagrammed in my mind. We tested the valve and found the leak to be reduced remarkably. My assistant said, ‘It’s a miracle.’ The patriarch lived for many years.
Dr. Nelson had been directed. And he knew that God knew that he knew he had been directed.”
Young Adult Experience
“Beatrice Magre’ (lives in France) recently told me of an experience that impacted her spiritual life shortly after her baptism as a teenager. Here are her words, ‘The youth of our branch had traveled with their leaders to Lacanau Beach, an hour and a half from Bordeaux. Before returning home, one of the leaders decided to take a last swim and dove into the waves with his glasses. When he resurfaced, his glasses had disappeared. … They were lost in the ocean. The loss of his glasses would prevent him from driving his car. We would be stranded far from home. A young women filled with faith suggested that we pray. I murmured that praying would avail us absolutely nothing, and I uneasily joined the group to pray publicly as we stood waist-deep in the murky water. Once the prayer was over, I stretched my arms to splash everyone. As I was sweeping the ocean’s surface, his pair of glasses rested in my hand. A powerful feeling pierced my soul that God does actually hear and answer our prayers.’
“Forty-five years later, she recalled it as if it had happened yesterday. Beatrice had been blessed, and she knew that God knew that she knew that she had been blessed. The experiences of Dr. Russell M.Nelson and Beatrice Magré were very different, yet for both, an unforgettable spiritually defining memory of God’s love was embedded in their hearts.” Neil A. Anderson said in summary, “Embrace your sacred memories. Believe them. Write them down. Share them with your family. Trust that they come to you from your Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son. Let them bring patience to your doubts and understanding to your difficulties. I promise you that as you willingly acknowledge and carefully treasure the spiritually defining events in your life, more and more will come to you. Heavenly Father knows you and loves you.”
I had a personal spiritual defining experience when I was a senior in high school and co-captain of our basketball team. Before the championship game started, I was so nervous that I found a private place and knelt in prayer pleading with the Lord that he would help me do my best and in return I would strive to keep his commandments. The game started and I was able to perform better than I had ever before performed. I kept saying to myself “what is happening to me”? Then I remembered my prayer and that I was witnessing its answer in a greater measure than I had ever imagined. After the game I also remembered the promise I had made to keep His commandments, which I have tried to do since those teenage years.
quoted part of a talk given by Neil A. Anderson, Ensign May, 2020.