Saturday, July 15, 2017

Oh, Remember, Remember by Paul Hancock

In the Sunday morning session of General Conference in October 2007, I had nestled into the couch with my beautiful wife, Suzanne, and was prepared to take a nap. We had been married for just less than a year. Julie B. Beck gave a talk on “Mothers Who Know.” I don’t recall a whole lot of that talk, but I knew that my life was about to change. As she continued her talk, I started to pay more attention. When she concluded her talk, Suzanne muted the TV and said, “We need to talk.” I told her that we really didn’t need to talk. That message was received, loud and clear! The Holy Ghost was very clear that Cael was ready to come to us. We were blessed in July of the next year with Cael.
Fast forward to the Heap Reunion of 2016. We were preparing to go camping at the Heap Reunion. Cael and I were still at home, finishing loading up the trailer while Suzanne went to RV to shop and then would head to camp. As I was getting ready to hook the fifth wheel up to the truck, I couldn’t find the keys to the trailer. I needed the keys to be able to jack the trailer up. Cael loved playing with the keys and having them with him, so I knew that he had them. I asked him where the keys were, and he didn’t know. I ran into the house to grab them because they were usually in a jar. The keys were not there. I called Suzanne, who was now shopping at Safeway and was with her sister, Nicole. She said that she didn’t know where they were. She asked if we had prayed yet and that she and Nicole would both say a prayer. I asked Cael to say a prayer, asking for help to find the keys. We continued to look for the keys. We even took a trip to Gas-n-Go, where we had put more air in the truck tires. Still no keys. As I was going through the house again, I knelt and asked Heavenly Father for help looking for the keys. As I headed back outside to retrace my steps again, I heard in my mind – “look under the car seat.” I told Cael that the keys were in the truck under his car seat. We went to the truck, and under his car seat were the keys. Cael asked me how I knew that they keys were there. I told him that the Holy Ghost had told me where the keys were. We said a prayer, thanking Heavenly Father for the help in finding the keys, and we headed to the mountains. 
President Henry B. Eyring also gave a talk in that session of the October 2007 General Conference. 
When President Eyring’s children were very young, as he was headed home late after a Church assignment, he passed his father-in-law carrying a load of pipes dressed in work clothes. It was after dark.  His father-in-law, who lived near them, was building a system to pump water from a stream below up to their property. As he passed his father-in-law, his father-in-law smiled, spoke softly, and then rushed to go on with his work. As President Eyring got to a door, he heard in his mind – not in his own voice – these words: “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.”
President Eyring went inside. He didn’t go to bed, although he was tired. He took out some paper and began to write. As he did, he understood the message that he had heard in his mind. He was supposed to record for his children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing his family. President Eyring would write down a few lines every day for years. He never missed a day no matter how tired he was or how early he had to arise the next day. Before he would write, he would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As President Eyring kept at it, something began to happen. He would see evidence of what God had done for one of them that he had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. He realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show him what God had done. 
As President Eyring did this, more than gratitude grew in his heart. Testimony grew. He became more certain that Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. He felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance – even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened. 
After many years went by, his boys had grown into men. They would surprise him by saying, “Dad, I was reading in my copy of the journal about when…” and then they would tell him about how reading of what happened long ago helped him notice something God had done in his day. 
President Eyring’s point is to urge us to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness. It will help build our testimonies. You may not keep a journal. Unfortunately, I don’t keep a journal, but I try to remember the experiences that I have had. You may not share whatever record you keep with those you love and serve, but you and they will be blessed as you remember what the Lord has done. We do try to point out the times that we are blessed or led by the Holy Ghost, so that Cael can learn to listen for and hear his voice. Suzanne and I have both felt it important that we try to help Cael understand the way that the Holy Ghost speaks to us. The other day we had a bag blow into our yard. It looked like a cover for one of those pop up shade awnings. I was just going to throw it into the trash, but Cael said, “Something tells me we should keep it and give it to the Friedens.” So we kept it. The other day we saw Brother Frieden, as he was packing up to move away from us. We asked him if it was his, and it was. 
It isn’t easy to remember. Living as we do with a veil over our eyes, we cannot remember what it was like to be with our Heavenly Father; nor can we see with our physical eyes or with reason alone the hand of God in our lives. Seeing such things takes the Holy Ghost. It isn’t easy to be worthy of the Holy Ghost’s companionship in a wicked world. 
This is why forgetting God has been such a persistent problem among God’s children since the world began. Think of all the miracles that they have seen. Still they were warned “take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life.” (Deuteronomy 4:9)
The more abundantly blessed that we are, the harder it is to remember. Those who are faithful to God are protected and prospered. That comes as a result of serving God and keeping His commandments. But with these blessings comes the temptation to forget their source. It is easy to begin to believe that these blessings were because of our own powers. 
Prosperity isn’t the only time that we can forget God. We can forget Him when our lives go badly. When we are struggling to make ends meet, when we are sick, or when everything seems to be going against us. When Satan tells us that there is no God, or if there is, He doesn’t care about us. A few years ago, I had applied to be the Chief Probation Officer in Navajo County. I had the support of three of the four judges, the county manager, the county attorney, the Sheriff, defense attorneys, and many others. I felt that I had worked hard and had put myself in a good position for the job. Before the interview, I prayed that I would be blessed to say the right things and be calm. I knew that this was in God’s hands, and it would work out the way He wanted. In my heart, I knew I was getting this job. I was painfully humbled when a week or so later, I called to tell Suzanne that I didn’t get the promotion. It was hard at that time to not blame God. 
The key to the remembering that brings and maintains testimony is receiving the Holy Ghost as a companion. It is the Holy Ghost who helps us see what God has done for us. It is the Holy Ghost who can help those we serve to see what God has done for them. 
Heavenly Father has given a simple pattern for us to receive the Holy Ghost not once but continually in the tumult of our daily lives. The pattern is repeated in the sacramental prayer: We promise that we will always remember the Savior. We promise to take His name upon us. We promise to keep His commandments. And we are promised that if we do that, we will have His Spirit to be with us. These promises work together in a wonderful way to strengthen our testimonies and in time, through the Atonement, to change our natures as we keep our part of the promise. 
A couple of years after not getting the job in Navajo County, I was blessed with an opportunity to be the head of the probation department here. I am happier than I had ever been in Navajo County. I can see that in my professional life, that my Heavenly Father has played a large role. In my personal life, He has also played a large role. As we raise Cael, Suzanne and I look for opportunities to show Cael the goodness that Heavenly Father blesses us with. As we do, I know that his testimony of our Father in Heaven will grow. He will seek to listen to the Holy Ghost. We choose to share these special moments with each other, with Cael, and other times with our families and friends via Instagram and Facebook. 
As we share these experiences with Cael, I know that he is building a testimony. There are times when he will have lost something, or he sees someone in need. Cael will quietly bow his head and offer a prayer. He knows that prayers are answered. He knows that the Holy Ghost talks to us and helps us.

May we all remember and give thanks for the hand of God in our daily lives.

1 comment:

  1. You guys are incredible examples and amazing parents!