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patterns of revelation (Elder Maxwell)

Promptings often come in short, crisp phrases, impressing upon us a certain duty. They come in other ways to each of us. We know what’s happening to us, but we don’t know all the implications of it. But God knows. It’s a sacred process. We know more than we can tell other people—not only for reasons of confidentiality but for what I will call “contextuality.” Those who are not a part of the process are not likely to value and understand its significance. They’re not apt to appreciate fully.

The whole process of subtle inspiration and revelation is like this metaphor: An inspired painter working on a large canvas does not report to or ask patrons or friends to react to each brushstroke. Nor does he exclaim after each stroke of his paintbrush well before the canvas reflects any emerging pattern. Yet each stroke the painter registers on the canvas is a part of an inspired whole. Without those cumulative, individual strokes, there would be no painting. But each stroke, if examined by itself, is not likely to be appreciated by itself, least of all by those who stand outside the process, outside of the contextuality.

Our personal spiritual experiences are much like this. They are personal. They are spiritual. Often they are not sharable. Some may be, but it takes inspiration to know when to share them. I recall hearing President Marion G. Romney, who combined wit and wisdom, say, “We’d have more spiritual experiences if we didn’t talk so much about them.”

So we ponder discipleship tonight. Be assured that God is “in the details” and in the subtleties of the defining moments and the preparatory moments. He will reassure you. He will remind you. Sometimes, if you’re like me, he will sometimes reprove you in a highly personal process not understood or appreciated by those outside the context.

In the revelations the Lord speaks of how the voice of his spirit will be felt in our minds. For me, the message is not a whole discourse, but a phrase or a sentence. The Lord says also if we read his words, meaning the scriptures, we will hear his voice. Many here have had private moments of pondering and reading the scriptures when the words “come through” in a clear, clarion way. We know Who it is speaking to us! We’ve all had the experience of going over a scripture many times without having it register. Then, all of a sudden, we’re ready to receive it! We hear the voice of the Lord through his words.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell, BYU Devotional "Called to Serve"

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