(August 21, 2014)
One of the most uncomfortable aspects of mortality is those times when we feel compelled to do something by inspiration, but which doesn’t really make much sense to us. On the one hand, there are those times when this feeling of compulsion is legitimately from the Lord (i.e. addition the Small Plates). On the other hand, there are those times when this feeling really seems unlikely to be from the Lord (‘don’t open that closet!’). How are we to tell the difference?
This is a question that I have struggled with throughout my life. I have discovered a couple of general rules that sometimes serve to help to distinguish between inspiration and just thoughts. First, the Lord is patient with us when we are clearly willing to obey but we are struggling to know our marching orders. If the Lord gives us ambiguous inspiration, and if we demonstrate our willingness to comply, the Lord will continue His gentle pull as we struggle to sort out truth from error.
Secondly, there is a different ‘flavor’ to inspiration that does not occur with the thoughts of our own minds. As I have tried to follow inspiration in my life, and as I have seen the result of those efforts flow, I find myself better able to tell the difference between the Lord’s instruction and something else. I look at the results, and remember the feelings, and it becomes ever so marginally easier to distinguish. I believe that this is what the scriptures refer to learning to hearken to the voice of the Lord.