Home Teaching: Feeling and Responding to the Spirit
Contributed by Robert Bruce Kearl of the Abbotsford British Columbia Stake
"I went home feeling disappointed. I prayed to understand why this lady could not be healed. Eventually I felt the Spirit say that it was not up to me to decide... I would have to leave it in the hands of a loving Father in Heaven." - Robert Kearl
Over the years as a home teacher, I have had several memorable times when the Spirit witnessed strongly to me that the Priesthood I held was needed in that home. When I responded, it was I who came away the wiser, humbler man.
A President Monson Moment
As I was sitting in the chapel listening to General Conference, President Monson was telling one of his stories about how the Spirit directed him to go to the hospital to visit a member of his ward. In the middle of his talk, I had a feeling that I must visit one of my home teaching families right after that session of conference and not wait another day. The sister had cancer and was enduring chemotherapy treatments. I had assisted her husband in giving her a blessing during my previous visits. Sometimes during my visits, she could barely get her head off the pillow as she was so weak.
As I was leaving the chapel after the session, I was asked to practise some hymns for a men’s chorus. I said that I had to visit one of my home teaching families as the sister was struggling with her cancer treatments. The brother suggested that the five of us could practise a few hymns and then go over and sing them to her. I thought that was a great idea. After practising our parts, we went to the family and sang with such beautiful harmony that we knew the Spirit was with us. We then gave the sister a blessing. During the blessing, we could feel the love of our Heavenly Father for this good woman and her family. It was a moment that changed our lives as the influence of the Spirit came over us so strongly.
Later, this sister told me that she had hit a low point that day and was very discouraged. We had shown up at just the right moment to lift her spirits and confirm again in her mind that the Lord had not forgotten her in her time of extreme trial. Yes, the Lord remembered her and loved her and showed us that the Spirit works in wondrous ways. We truly had a President Monson moment.
Becometh as a Child
On another home teaching assignment, I had a special sister that I had known when I was a university student. She had been the Primary President and I taught the Blazer B boys in Primary.
Her husband was away on business when she discovered that she had breast cancer. She called me to give her a blessing. I prayed before I went that the Lord would heal her, as I knew she was such a good person. I wanted to be able to say that she would be healed. I hoped for a great miracle. I hoped that the Spirit would whisper quietly to me that this lady would have a miraculous healing. I knew that only the Lord had the power to do it, so I would just have to declare His will.
The blessing did not say she would be healed like I wished. She would have to struggle through the necessary treatment, but she would do so successfully. The Lord expressed His love for her and her family. I went home feeling disappointed. I prayed to understand why this lady could not be healed. Eventually, I felt the Spirit say that it was not up to me to decide who would have cancer and who would not. I would have to leave it in the hands of a loving Father in Heaven.
Some time later, this sister expressed to me how much she had learned coming through this difficult experience. She felt she neither could not have learned these things, nor could she have obtained the qualities of character she desired to achieve without coming through this refiner’s fire.
I realized how little I understood. I felt blessed to home teach someone who had put off the natural man and became a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord and had become as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord had seen fit to inflict upon her, even as a child doth submit to her father. (Mosiah 3:19)
I Can Feel How You Feel
A faithful sister, whom I would home teach for many years, was suffering from extreme depression and was admitted to the hospital. She just wanted to die. I went to visit her and give her a blessing. She was so depressed that she really couldn’t function at the time. She just rested in her bed.
As we visited, I began to speak of Jesus Christ. I spoke of the hope we find in Christ, in His atonement, in His grace, in His love, in His life, in His light and in His teachings. My mind was filled with preaching of Christ and rejoicing in Christ. (2 Nephi 25:26)
In the blessing, I spoke of these same things, all centered in Jesus Christ. During the course of that blessing, the Spirit let me feel how this good sister was feeling. I felt as if I was at the bottom of a deep dark pit. I looked up but there was no light. I was in a hole so deep I could not get out. There was no hope and no light. The darkness was crushing me; it was so heavy and oppressive. I was powerless. I was alone. I was lost. The feeling was overpowering.
Now I felt how she was feeling. I could understood why I spoke only of Jesus Christ. The words of Elder Bruce R. McConkie combined with the music in the hymn “I Believe in Christ” came into my mind. I could almost recognize his distinctive and familiar voice declare with great power his testimony of Jesus Christ.
I believe in Christ; he is my King!
With all my heart to him I’ll sing;
I’ll raise my voice in praise and joy,
In grand amens my tongue employ.
I believe in Christ; he is God’s Son.
On earth to dwell his soul did come.
He healed the sick; the dead he raised.
Good works were his; His name be praised.
After the blessing, I returned with a tape of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing hymns about Jesus Christ. Elder McConkie’s hymn was in the middle of that tape and in the middle of that song, this great Apostle of Jesus Christ spoke the words he had written in his own powerful and unique voice. I gave this tape to this sister to listen to as often as possible every day.
Later, when she was able to function again and came out of the hospital, she told me that the tape was instrumental in helping her to turn to Jesus Christ which was essential to her healing.
I learned that my heart was filled with compassion once I could feel what other people were feeling. If I just listen to the trials other people have been through, I then feel the Spirit soften my heart and I am filled with charity, the pure love of Christ. I cannot feel this way by myself. It only comes with the Spirit—when I can feel how they feel.