Whisperings


In March of 1976, my wife, my two children, and I were baptized. We were very happy, feeling that we were starting a whole new life. That summer for our holiday, we rented a log cabin in Jotunheimen, one of the most scenic areas of Norway.

In a little sod-roofed cabin, surrounded by Norway’s highest mountains, my family and I had some wonderful days together. Although we lived almost fourteen kilometers from our nearest neighbor, we never felt lonely. We felt very strongly the spirit of the Lord with us. That summer we had an experience that even today makes me tremble with humility and gratitude for the great love the Lord has for his children.

Early one beautiful, cloudless morning, we started on a long hike. We saw deep ravines and snowy mountain peaks reflected in blue mountain lakes. The hike was a little more difficult than we had anticipated, but we enjoyed the solitude and the magnificent scenery. Three or four kilometers from our destination, we needed to cross a steep, narrow ridge called Besseggen to get to a mountain called Veslefjeldet. I felt we could cross it safely, but a still, quiet voice within me seemed to whisper that we should not go that way. I had been baptized only four months before, and was still unfamiliar with the promptings of the Holy Ghost, so I took no notice of the warning.

As we got closer to the mountain, I again heard the voice warning me, so I stopped and studied the map. If we did not make the short climb over Besseggen and Veslefjeldet, we would have to walk around a mountain and a lake. It would take until midnight to reach our destination. I thought about our tired legs and empty food bag and decided that we should continue the way we were going.

When we reached the foot of the mountain, the small voice clearly repeated, “Hans, you must not go over the mountain.” Again we stopped and looked up toward the narrow mountain ridge. The sun was shining and the air was calm, and I still saw no reason to heed the warning. We began to climb.

I led the way while my wife, Lise, came last, keeping the children safely between us. We experienced little difficulty climbing, yet I still felt that I was doing something wrong. Halfway up, we stopped to admire the view. On our left was a sheer drop of 150 meters, while on our right, the mountainside dropped away abruptly for 500 meters.

Lise and the children were excited about the stillness and the wonderful view, but I continued to feel anxious. Suddenly I felt a gust of wind from the north, and I heard a rushing sound that grew louder. Within minutes we were in the middle of a howling storm. I cried out to my family to lie down and hold on tight. We each clung desperately to the mountain, trying to dig our fingers into the earth, but the gusts of wind were so violent we were slowly being blown toward the edge.

Suddenly I understood what I had done. The missionaries’ words about the Holy Ghost’s quiet whisperings came back to me, and I realized that during the last half hour I had ignored the Holy Ghost three times. I prayed that the Lord would save my wife and children. Full of remorse, I cried for forgiveness.

Then, through the storm’s howling, I heard a deep and powerful voice within me telling me to go back down the mountainside. The voice warned me that he who does not obey the voice of the Lord shall be cast out from His presence.

Suddenly a calm stillness replaced the storm. Amazed, I pushed myself to my knees to give thanks and to acknowledge the Lord’s power. My wife and children shouted for me to hurry so we could climb to the top of the mountain. But now I knew better. We must go down, I commanded, immediately! Without knowing why, my family obeyed. As we reached the foot of the mountain, we again heard a rushing noise, and in a few moments the storm was gusting even stronger than before. I told my family what had happened to me on the mountain ridge. Together we knelt to thank the Lord for preserving our lives.

To this day, more than ten years later, I cannot think about this experience without great emotion. On that summer day, while I clung to a Norwegian mountainside, the Lord taught me and my family the value of listening to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.

[illustration] Illustrated by Lynn Farrar

Hans Cohr is the bishop of the Fredricia Ward, Aarhus Denmark Stake. This was the winning article in the personal experience category of the 1986 European Artistic Contest sponsored by the International Magazines European languages editions.