One year after he was called to the apostleship, Elder Packer was still wrestling with the puzzle, why him?
He then talked about spiritual witnesses through the presence of the Holy Ghost.
Some weeks before the meeting of last April, I left the office one Friday afternoon thinking of the weekend conference assignment. I waited for the elevator to come down from the fifth floor.
As the elevator doors quietly opened, there stood President Joseph Fielding Smith. There was a moment of surprise in seeing him, since his office is on a lower floor.
As I saw him framed in the doorway, there fell upon me a powerful witness—there stands the prophet of God. That sweet voice of Spirit that is akin to light, that has something to do with pure intelligence, affirmed to me that this was the prophet of God.
I need not try to define that experience to Latter-day Saints. That kind of witness is characteristic of this church. It is not something reserved to those in high office. It is a witness, not only available but vital, to every member.
Mormonism, he said, can look stodgy to the outsider. We all get up and say, “I know the Church is true, I know Christ lives.” It sounds like a formula. It is a formula. Mormonism isn’t a wild and free religion. It’s organized. In theory, highly organized. But Elder Packer tells this story.
Karl G. Maeser was taking a group of missionaries across the Alps. As they reached a summit, he stopped. Gesturing back down the trail to some poles set in the snow to mark the way across the glacier, he said, “Brethren, there stands the Priesthood. They are just common sticks like the rest of us … but the position they hold makes them what they are to us. If we step aside from the path they mark, we are lost.”
The sticks are common, the guide they give is prosaic and rule-bound—but they lead to a destination on a summit, with a view that transcends the routine experience of trudging past sticks on a glacier. The formula of Mormon life leads to the presence of the Spirit, which is sweeter than anything else.
I call this the secret life of Mormons. As Elder Packer relates, most Mormons are quiet about the highest moments of their life. They don’t advertise. It may be that they can’t advertise–the secret life is secret because it cannot be shared.
It is far too easy for grown men to cry in sacrament meeting. Because the formulas, the routine, suddenly bring up your real life, your secret life, where joy and light and God are, and it gets to you.
You can’t make it happen directly. You can’t will the felt presence of God the Holy Ghost. You can only follow the sticks.
Other Posts on the Tuesday Morning session of the Apirl 1971 General Conference
|Saving the Lost Battalions||http://difficultrun.nathanielgivens.com/2016/01/05/saving-the-lost-battalions|
|The Secret Life of Mormons||http://www.jrganymede.com/2016/01/03/the-secret-life-of-mormons/|
|“I Have that Witness”||https://symphonyofdissent.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/i-have-that-witness/|
|Knowledge — On Whose Terms?||http://patheos.com/blogs/soulandcity/2016/01/knowledge-on-whose-terms/|
|Escaping “The Box” Through Families||http://difficultrun.nathanielgivens.com/2016/01/05/escaping-the-box-through-families/|