Learning to Heed the Voice of the Spirit


In June 1994, I learned a lesson that, I hope, will be forever engraved in my memory.

I had planned to climb with a coworker more than 1,200 meters up Spain’s Sierra de Alhamilla. From the top of this independent mountain range, we would each take off in our hang gliders. We planned to take advantage of bright blue skies and enjoy a marvelous flight over the Tabernas desert and the valleys of Pechina and Viator.

The night before our intended flight, my evening prayers were interrupted by a strong impression that I should not fly the following morning. I was surprised not only by the strength of this impression but also by its persistence. Though I had enough experience to know better—I was a member of the district council and was the district Young Men president—I foolishly ignored the prompting; I thought that perhaps the impression was a product of my imagination or my fear of a new experience. I decided that I would go ahead with the climb, but that I would cancel my flight if the weather conditions were not right.

The following day seemed perfect as my friend and I began our climb. I forgot about the impression I had received the night before and looked forward to my flight.

When we got to the top, we found that the wind was not blowing from the expected direction. As I assembled the glider, the wind changed again and began blowing from a different direction. I felt a great weight on my shoulders and questioned our decision to fly. Nevertheless, I felt some pressure to keep the promise I had made to my friend, and being stubborn, I decided to be the first one to take off.

As soon as I left the mountaintop, I knew I should not have done it. I dropped rapidly toward the trees right below my take-off point, my alarming descent announced by a constant beeping coming from a gauge I had with me. The tree tops, which at first had seemed far away, rushed toward me, getting bigger and bigger. Wind turbulence tossed the hang glider about like a leaf in the wind, and I lost control. Trapped in a narrowing canyon and unable to keep a flight path, I feared that I would crash into the mountainside and be killed. The wind was blowing in my ears, threatening me. It sounded as if it were saying, “You shouldn’t be here.”

Just at this terrifying moment, I remembered the impression from the night before. I realized it had been a warning, and I immediately repented of my disrespect for the concern the Lord had shown for my welfare. I prayed aloud, begging him to help me get out of the maelstrom that gripped me.

Suddenly, I seemed to gain a measure of control and saw a small clearing that I could use as a landing place. I was closing in to land when the wind hit me again. I fell 10 meters, the hang glider dropping fast toward the ground as if there weren’t any air. Just as I was about to hit the ground, the wing of my hang glider tipped up and I was able to land. When I pulled myself from the hang glider, I found I had a few cuts and the hang glider had two broken parts. And I had learned a lesson I will never forget.

I left the mountain feeling great gratitude toward the Lord for his tender care. In spite of my hardheadedness, he had preserved my life.

Some days later, I was preparing a program for a baptism when I was surprised to feel the Spirit bearing witness of the materials I was putting into the program. Among the items I had collected was a picture depicting Joseph Smith being visited by the Father and the Son. I noticed that below the picture was a caption: “I … called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments” (D&C 1:17).

As the Spirit filled my heart, I felt forgiven for my lack of obedience. I rejoiced that the Spirit would once again communicate with me. And I promised myself that never again would I ignore any prompting the Lord was gracious enough to give me.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Paul Mann