This article was contributed by David Hardin
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I grew up in a loving home with good parents like Nephi. My parents taught me how to behave myself and they encouraged me to listen to wise members of my community such as school teachers. From the time I was very young my parents took me to church every Sunday, where I was taught basic gospel principles and where we studied the meaning of Biblical passages. My parents were also examples to me of being a good Christian.
In my mother’s eulogy, I said:
Mom was a Christian woman who believed in the divinity and atonement of Jesus Christ. She believed in the resurrection and in eternal life. But, most important to her was being a practical Christian who truly loved her neighbor as herself. That philosophy applied by Mom in everything she did. She always had a smile for others and gave of herself to benefit her family and others around her. She even carried it to extremes. She wrote letters to my school teachers. I remember one teacher coming to me with a big smile and saying that Mom’s letter contained the nicest things anyone had ever said to her. I also remember her propensity for embarrassing my brother Dwight and me by befriending strangers in public places. The unsuspecting benefactors of her friendship never seemed to know how to react, and they often tried to ignore her. But, she was just trying to be nice.
She always gave money to charities. When she was older and had little financial means, I would notice when I balanced her checkbook that she had given $5 each to several charities who had mailed her requests for contributions. These gifts were in addition to her regular donations to her church. One month to my surprise, she had given $2.50 to each of two charities. When I asked her about those smaller gifts she said that she didn’t have enough money to give both $5, so she divided the gift. In the end, the important thing is that she was always giving of herself and of her limited means to her family, to her church, to her friends, and even to people she didn’t know.
At my Dad’s funeral, I said that, although he wasn’t a highly educated man, nor an important man from a worldly perspective, he was a man who went to work every morning, came home sober every evening, never once could be accused of being unfaithful to my mom, and he always did what was necessary to see that his two sons had the very best that he could provide. My Dad even took me, as a teenager, with him to the Church adult choir rehearsal every Thursday evening.
So, that’s a pretty good home life. Right. I think my parents did a very good job. And, their two sons are both upstanding and contributing members of society.
But, what was missing from this picture? I certainly didn’t recognize that anything was missing until my wife, Linda, introduced me to the Church, literally on the door step of our marriage in 1974. Frankly, I had no desire for another church association. At the time, I was employed as the Minister of Music of a Baptist Church here in Washington DC, and I would soon be offered the same job at a large church in suburban Maryland. But, the missionaries were persistent, even in the light of my pointed questions. And, their discussions made good sense to me.
Eventually, having entertained several sets of full time and stake missionaries, having attended several Family Home Evenings in members’ homes, and having attended many afternoon sacrament meetings (between Sunday morning services at the Baptist church and Sunday evening services at the Baptist church), the missionaries wore me down. Finally, when a young, greenie elder from Pocatello, Idaho came to my home and bore fervent testimony (because he was too new to know any of the discussions), I felt the unmistakable spirit and broke down and agreed to be baptized.
I know now that what was missing from my former life was that I needed the eternal truths that are available only through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Further, I needed the truths for today that are available only through prophecy such as we have access to at General Conference coming the first weekend in April.
When I was growing up, I was taught that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us. I was taught that Jesus Christ died for our sins, that we through faith and repentance might have eternal life. I was taught about the promptings of the Holy Ghost. In my churcyh, I was even taught about the importance of baptism as an outward sign of an inward conversion.
Unfortunately, I was also taught that since the time of Christ there have been no more apostles and prophets and no more miracles. I was taught that each believer is on his/her own to interpret the scriptures and decide what is right in today’s world.
I asked my minister about Judges 17:6 that says, “In those days there was o prophet in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes,” and pointed out that the honored theologian C.I. Schofield concluded that the result of not having a prophet (whether in ancient or modern times) has always been “apostasy and servitude.” But, this leader of my former church had no words of comfort for me.
In our Church we are taught that the heavens are open, and that revelation and prophecy for our time and for our personal situation is available to us through the Lord’s appointed servants.
“We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” (Articles of Faith #9).
We believe that “surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). Our Heavenly Father will have his prophet tell the general Church membership everything that we collectively need to know.
Latter-day scriptures tell us that “…as many as believed the words of the holy prophets, who spake as they were inspired by the gift of the Holy Ghost…should have eternal life” (D&C 20:26). Belief, in this context, of course, ijmplies the kind of faith that leads us to do works of righteousness.
It is because I received a testimony of the prophetic call of Spencer W. Kimball that I joined the Church. It is because of my testimony of that great man that Linda and I planted a garden and raised corn, tomatoes, and beans, and planted apple trees. I certainly wouldn’t have done that for anyone else!
It is because of my understanding of the prophet’s counsel that I left my employment as a professional church musician and after years of additional college training, have pursued other employment. In our recent stake conference, a member of the stake presidency complimented Brother Clouse, who directed the choir, and rightly so, saying he had left a good job directing church music for pay.
Well, I don’t know if anyone else in the congregation understood Bro.
Clouse’s situation as I do. His situation is what mine was.
I have since been very fortunate to have the opportunity to direct the Colorado Mormon Chorale and the Mormon Choir of Washing D.C. I hope that his testimony is strong enough to see him through the challenges he will face. Please understand that his calling right now to direct the choir in the Burke Ward is very, very different from his previous employment to direct the paid professional choir at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
I know that the prophetic utterances in our lives whether they come from Salt Lake city or from the Holy Ghost directly to us are important. I know that if we will listen to the talks from General Conference on April 2nd and 3rd, there will be important messages for us and for our families. I encourage you to “come, listen to a prophet’s voice and hear the word of God.”