Holy Ghost’s Assistance Crucial to Spiritual Nourishment
Stephen Baugh was in good company as he gave his BYU devotional address: Along with university students and faculty, his wife, parents, and extended family were in attendance, including a nephew who gave the closing prayer. His talk, “The Parable of the Cherry Tree: How to Enjoy the Constant Companionship of the Holy Ghost,” was the first university devotional of the new spring term.
Baugh began with the parable of the cherry tree. Several years ago he attempted to “shock” his unproductive cherry tree in order to get it to bear fruit. Baugh overdid his professor’s directions to hit the trunk with a baseball bat and destroyed the tree by completely severing the branches from the roots. “Similarly, if we cut ourselves off from the Holy Ghost,” Baugh related, “we experience a spiritual devastation.”
Baugh explained that university students who have many life decisions before them need the Holy Ghost to assist them in making these decisions. Remembering the destruction of the cherry tree, students should not allow circumstances to shock them into losing their connections with their source of spiritual nourishment.
Baugh stated that it is imperative to keep one’s connections strong and channels open to the guidance of the Holy Ghost. He outlined four ways to do this:
- Pray in faith continually
- Search the scriptures daily
- Keep the commandments always
- Serve others willingly
To illustrate continual prayer, Baugh shared the experience of an Asian student who prayed during his calculus test when, having always used the metric system, he could not remember how to convert feet to inches. After he prayed, an image of a sandwich ad came to his mind, and he remembered that a foot-long sandwich could be divided into two six-inch sandwiches.
“The Holy Ghost will guide us to all truths,” Baugh said, “even the small ones.” He referred to Alma Chapter 34, “Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks,” and challenged audience members to think about their own “flocks and fields” and to include those things in their personal prayers.
Praying in faith necessarily leads to searching the scriptures daily. “I chose the verb search purposefully,” Baugh said. “Searching does not mean locating or dusting off,” he joked. “It means reading, studying, pondering, likening the stories to ourselves.” He explained how Nephi’s phrase “feasting upon the words of Christ” can be likened to immersing ourselves in our own scripture study like butter and honey flowing over a hot dinner roll.
Consistent prayer and scripture study influence our desire and ability to keep the commandments always, Baugh expressed. “To keep the commandments always provides guidance and direction, and increased confidence,” he said. “And when we feel confident in our obedience and experience the blessings that come from living righteously, we are happy; it’s as simple as that.”
Serving others willingly also allows for the Spirit to more fully direct our lives, Baugh advised. Sometimes we think we must have a specific position or calling in order to give real service,” he stated. “But service can be done any time, anywhere. The Holy Ghost can guide us to better ways to serve.”
Yet when callings are given to us, Baugh said that fulfilling callings provides an abundance of the Spirit and increased opportunities for growth. He then shared his list, “10 Things I’ve Learned About Church Callings,” compiled after many years of service in the church at the ward and stake levels:
• Do not seek callings.
• Accept callings when they come.
• Magnify each calling when it comes.
• Do not ask to be released.
• When released, accept it with a good heart and attitude. We do not “own” our callings.
• It does not matter where we serve. It does matter how we serve.
• Do not be critical of how you are called or how you are released.
• Study the church handbooks specific to your calling and follow them.
• Never speak negatively of your leaders. Seek and accept their counsel.
• Find out what the Lord would have you do. Seek the Spirit.
Baugh invited attendees to make these principles consistent in their lives and promised that if they did, they would experience increased guidance from the Holy Ghost, leading them to greater happiness and the Lord’s greatest blessings.
24 May 2010