Elder L. Tom Perry

Sick Girl

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Elder L. Tom Perry's experience

What a tremendous privilege it is to be numbered among those who, by the power of the priesthood, have been baptized by water and then have had hands laid upon their heads and received the Holy Ghost.

Elder LeGrand Richards, describing the gift of the Holy Ghost, said:

"To me, the gift of the Holy Ghost is as important to man as sunshine and water are to the plants. You take them away, and the plants would die.  You take the Holy Ghost out of this Church, and this Church would not be any different than any other church.  And it is manifest in so many ways in the lives and the devotion of the members of the Church" ("The Gift of the Holy Ghost," Oct. 1979 Gen. Conf.).

Gifts have only limited value unless they are used. The Holy Ghost will be our constant companion if we submit ourselves to the will of our Father in Heaven, always remembering Him and keeping His commandments.

I remember a critical time in my life and how grateful I was when a still small voice gave me direction to make an important decision. 

I had been with a retail firm for a number of years.  We had enjoyed extraordinary success.  We wanted to expand the business but needed a great deal of capital.

In an attempt to raise the money, we contacted the best financial advisers we could find.  They encouraged us to merge with a larger firm.  The merger was successfully completed, and I was asked to sign a five-year contract to give continuity to management.  Within a matter of months I found myself in a very difficult situation.  The new owners wanted me to violate a trust that I felt I just could not do.

After long discussions, they continued to insist and I continued to refuse. Seeing there was no way to break the deadlock, I agreed to leave the company. The timing for me was devastating.  I had a wife who was seriously ill and required a lot of medical attention, a daughter away to college, and a son on a mission.  I spent the next year just getting enough consulting work to pay my expenses.

After struggling for about one year, a company called me from California and invited me to come out and talk to them about working for them.  I went out and negotiated a very good contract; I was delighted with the opportunity.  I told them that I had to return home and discuss it with my family before I could give an answer.  I returned home and after a careful discussion, I convinced my family that it was the right thing to do. 

In the process of calling the firm to accept the offer, a voice just as strong and powerful as I have ever heard came to me and said,  "Say no to the offer."

I could not ignore the voice, so I turned the offer down, but I was distressed.  I could not comprehend why I had been told to do such a thing.  I went upstairs to my bedroom, sat on the bed, opened the scriptures, and they fell open to the Doctrine and Covenants, section 111.  This was the only section given in the state of Massachusetts, where my home was at that particular time.  These words literally jumped out of the page and met my eye:

"Concern not yourselves about your debts, . . . I will give you power to pay them. . . .

"Tarry in this place, and in the regions round about" (D&C 111:5, 7).

A great peace came to my soul.  Within just a few days I was offered a fine position in Boston.  A few months later I had the great privilege of hosting a conference in which President Harold B. Lee, then First Counselor in the First Presidency, was the featured speaker. 

The conference was a glorious success as we feasted on the words of President Lee.  The following July, President Joseph Fielding Smith passed away and President Lee became the prophet.  Three months later I was asked to come to Salt Lake, where I received a call to leave my profession and  join the General Authorities.

I have often wondered what would have happened if I had not heeded the Holy Spirit in its counseling me not to leave Boston.

Parley P. Pratt gave us a vision of what the gift of the Holy Ghost could mean to us when he said:

"The gift of the Holy Ghost . . . quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. 

It inspires, develops, cultivates and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature. 

It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity. 

It develops beauty of person, form and features. 

It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feeling. 

It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. 

It strengthens, and gives tone to the nerves. 

In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being" (Key to the Science of Theology, 9th ed. [1965], 101).

I bear witness of the power and comfort the gift of the Holy Ghost is to those who live worthy of it. What a reassurance it is for us to know that we are not left alone to find the course that we must follow to merit the eternal blessings of our Father in Heaven. 

We do not need man-made rating systems to determine what we should read, what we should watch, what we should listen to, or how we should conduct our lives.  What we do need to do is live worthy of the continued companionship of the Holy Ghost and have the courage to follow the promptings that come into our lives.

May the Lord bless us that we may ever be mindful of this great and precious gift, even the gift of the Holy Ghost, I humbly pray in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. 

(Elder L. Tom Perry shares this personal experience in April 1997 General Conference, "That Spirit Which Leadeth to Do Good)