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Can you imagine how Moses felt when he and the Israelites stood next to the Red Sea, watching Pharaoh’s army approach at breakneck speed?
He must have wondered what miracle God would do next to save His people. But he likely never suspected that God would have him part the huge body of water that stood behind him.
So how did God communicate this surprising message to Moses? Did He send an angel? Did He come himself?
It turns out that God actually communicated to Moses in the simplest way possible: through the spirit of revelation.
You see, through the prophet Joseph Smith we have been told that the spirit of revelation is “the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.” (D&C 8:2-3)
Why did God send the spirit instead of an angel? Because that is how God communicates. He will not send an angel when the Spirit will do. And you’ll find that in your life God will speak to you daily through the Holy Ghost.
But what if you’ve never felt the Spirit? What if you don’t know how to recognize His voice?
Well the fact is, you HAVE felt the Spirit, you just might not know it.
For example, have you ever played the game where you hold your breath as you drive through a tunnel? Depending on how long the tunnel is and how long you have to hold your breath you may find yourself thinking very longly of a good dose of oxygen. In fact you may long for oxygen. But how often– on a normal day– do you think about oxygen? How often do you kneel in prayer and thank God for the oxygen that fills your lungs every day?
You see, you are so surrounded by oxygen that you don’t even think about it until it’s gone. And that is what the Spirit is like too.
You have spent your whole life surrounded by the Spirit that you might not recognize when you’re feeling it.
So what does the Spirit feel like? It feels like fruit!
Now here is a quick question for you: if you wanted to eat an orange, what kind of tree would you go to to find it? That’s right, an orange tree. If you wanted to eat an apple, what kind of tree would you look for? That’s right, an apple tree.
Well, if you wanted to feel the spirit, what kind of tree would you go to? That’s right, the spirit tree!
In Galatians 5 it tells us all about this spirit tree and what fruits you can find on it. These fruits are the signs that you’re feeling the Spirit. What are these fruits?
“. . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
So, when was the last time you felt love? Did you feel love for a pet, a friend, or a family member today? That was the Spirit!
When was the last time you felt patient? Did you hold your tongue when you wanted to yell at someone, or did you not punch someone in the eye who you felt really deserved it? That was the Spirit!
When was the last time you were humble? Did you listen to a lesson in church and try to really learn? Have you apologized to someone recently? That was the Spirit!
You see, you are surrounded by the spirit – which is sending you simple feelings like love, joy, and peace– so often that you don’t realize it’s there!
But what about promptings? What about those times when the Spirit isn’t just sending nice feelings but is actually sending a message? How can you recognize those feelings?
That is when the Spirit speaks with traffic lights.
Think of the last time you were in a car and a traffic light was red. What did you do? You (or the driver) stopped the car.
That is how the Spirit will communicate to you when you need to STOP or AVOID doing something wrong. He will send red light feelings such as dread, confusion, or a lack of confidence in the thing you had planned to do.
Now think of the last time you were in a car and a traffic light was green. What did you do? You (or the driver) kept going.
That is how the Spirit will communicate to you when you should START or CONTINUE doing something right. He will send green light feelings such as excitement, clarity, and confidence that you are doing the right thing.
Now think of the last time you were in a car and a traffic light was yellow. What did you do? You (or the driver) probably didn’t just start driving in circles in the intersection, waiting for the light to turn red or green, right?
No! You (or the driver) made a decision based on the information they had– on whether it seemed like the right decision to go or stop.
That is what God expects of us when we get a yellow light– or no clear answer– from the Spirit. We are supposed to use the information we have and make the best decision we can with that.
Elder Richard G. Scott said, “When [God] answers yes, it is to give us confidence.
When He answers no, it is to prevent error. When He withholds an answer. . . we are expected to assume accountability by acting on a decision that is consistent with His teachings without prior confirmation. We are not to sit passively waiting or to murmur because the Lord has not spoken. We are to act.” (Source)
But what if you make the wrong decision? What if the choice you make is wrong? Take heart! “When you are living righteously and are acting with trust, God will not let you proceed too far without a warning impression if you have made the wrong decision.” (Source)
Now you might be thinking– I don’t know what a green light or a red light feels like. And that’s okay! One of your great missions in life is to figure out your own spirit ringtone. You see, the Spirit speaks differently to everyone. Just like I have a different ringtone that lets me know my mom, or my husband, or one of my kids is calling– you have your own distinct ringtone for the Spirit.
Your ringtone might be strong emotions, or it might be a feeling of confidence, or it might be a burst of great ideas. But no two people have the exact same ringtone. Your mom might cry every time she bears her testimony, while you never do. Your dad might have big “aha” moments where the Spirit fills his mind with great ideas, while that never happens to you. Don’t worry! Your ringtone will be specific to and perfect for you. Your job is to simply pay attention to the strong feelings you get (positive or negative) and figure out what that ringtone is!
So there you have it friends:
First, you are surrounded by the Spirit whether you recognize it or not.
Second, you can recognize promptings by paying attention to the red, yellow, and green traffic light feelings you have.
And, third, the Spirit will speak to you with your own special ringtone that you need to discover.
And that is how you can recognize the Spirit!