Preparing For, Receiving, and Acting On Revelation


given at BYU Women’s Conference on May 2, 2019

I am a gatherer. It is in my DNA. My parents were gatherers. They relished the opportunity to join together with friends and family, usually with an abundance of food. We often made room for extra people around our kitchen table. It was my uncle for noon-day lunch when the brothers were working cattle. Our Thanksgiving dinner, with turkey and all the trimmings, including made-from-scratch hot rolls and pie, was shared with individuals who had no family or place to go. And for many years, every Sunday evening friends came by for homemade ice cream and freshly baked chocolate chip cowboy cookies. 
I have found joy hosting Sunday dinners for the Thackeray cousins while they attended Brigham Young University– and some even after they graduated. 
At the end of the meal we pose for photos, some serious and others humorous, like using our hands to make deer antlers on our heads. I display these photos on my dining room wall beneath the saying: The fondest memories are made when gathered around the table. 
Most of us enjoy gathering. One lesson we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that human interaction is vital to our mental and emotional health. It was not easy for us to follow the rules to stay home and stay safe, to keep six feet apart from other people, to greet each other without an embrace or handshake, and limit our gatherings to immediate family. We missed congregating for Sunday worship, participating in temple ordinances to gather our ancestors, and meeting to celebrate weddings, funerals, birthdays, baptisms, and more. 
A well-known gathering parable is found in the New Testament—it is the story of the wedding feast.1 The King has prepared a great meal to honor his son’s marriage. He extends the invitations. People begin to send their regrets saying they are unable to attend. The food is ready, the time for celebration has arrived, but there are no guests. The King sends his servants into the streets to invite others to come and join the supper. In Revelations 19:9, referring to this event, it reads: “blessed are those who are invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb.”2 
You and I are invited to this feast by Jesus Christ, the master Gatherer. Christ refers to himself as the Good Shepherd.3 Shepherds gather their sheep to the fold. Jehovah, the Lord of the Old Testament, covenanted with ancient Israel that he would gather in His people.4 
Today I would like to share four truths that can help us respond to Christ’s invitation to gather to Him and increase our ability to gather scattered Israel as we prepare the world for the Savior’s Second Coming. 

Truth number one: He knows you. 
He knows you and He knows your name. 
Jesus Christ not only calls the stars by their name,5 but He knows and calls His sheep—you and me—by our name. 6 
We read in the scriptures when Moses,7 Enoch,8 Enos,9 Joseph Smith,10 and others were called by name. If the Lord knew these people by name, then we have confidence that He knows us also. 
He knows each of us individually—not collectively as a group of His children. It is not the same level of knowing as I know the students in my class or the sisters in my stake Relief Society. He knows our innermost thoughts. The desires of our heart. Our dreams. Our disappointments. 

He knows each of us one-by-one. 
He knows I like ice cream—and that Aggie lemon custard and Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby are my favorite flavors. 
He knows I’d rather sleep in a hotel than go camping in the mountains—but I went to Young Women’s camp anyway. 
He knows I have no sense of direction and can easily get lost. 
He knows I sometimes mourn the missed opportunity to have been a wife and a mother. 
When my nephew, Justin, was five years old, in late August he started exhibiting behaviors that were concerning for my sister Laura and her husband Mark. For example, he forgot how to pull up a zipper on his jacket, he would stumble walking up the school bus steps, when washing his hands Justin said he could not see the soap on the bathroom sink, and he became increasingly ill for no apparent reason. Laura reached out to her pediatrician. The doctor suggested Justin had just started school, so he was likely experiencing separation anxiety being away from his mother. 
One Sunday afternoon in early October, Laura’s family and I were visiting my parents. Usually Justin would eagerly respond to my invitation to walk to the school playground for a few rides on the swing. That day he was not interested. He said, “I just want to stay with my mom.” As we gathered around the kitchen table eating lunch, Justin had a faraway look in his eyes. A somber feeling permeated the house. Laura, mom, and I sat on the living room couch, the warm afternoon sun streaming in the windows as we tenderly discussed Justin’s situation. We gently wiped away tears as they trickled down our cheeks. 
The next morning when I arrived at work, I picked up the telephone and called Laura. I can still remember exactly where I was standing in my office in the Richards Building on the campus of Brigham Young University. I said to her, “Laura, I know you are the mom, but there is something seriously wrong with Justin.” 
In a quivering voice full of emotion, she quietly responded, “I know.” 
I encouraged her to call Sandy, a relative who was a doctor about an hour drive from her home. I knew that Sandy would get Justin an appointment to see him. 
Within a few hours Justin was in Sandy’s office where he immediately made a diagnosis. Sandy sent Laura and Justin home for brain scans at the local hospital. The next day Justin was at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, meeting with two surgeons. One of the surgeons was not supposed to be on call that day, but he was, and not by coincidence he was a brain tumor expert and familiar with this rare astrocytoma. On Wednesday, a shunt was inserted into Justin’s head to drain the accumulated fluid. On Friday, the surgeons performed an 8-hour surgery, removing as much of the brain tumor as they could without destroying Justin’s vision. 
Because Jesus Christ knows you and me, we can trust Him to help us. He knows what assistance we need and when it would be best for us to receive that support. He knows how and when to reach out and succor us. 
In John 10:14 it reads: I am the good shepherd and know my sheep and am known of mine.11 
The Savior knows us. The question for us is—do we know Him? 
Knowing the Lord is required to for us to be gathered and eventually receive eternal life.12 
The Savior added: And if they know me they shall come forth and shall have a place eternally at my right hand.13 
Elder David A. Bednar stated the following about how we can come to know the Lord:
“A grand objective of mortality is not merely learning about the Only Begotten of the Father but also striving to know Him. Four essential steps that can help us come to know the Lord are exercising faith in Him, following Him, serving Him, and believing Him.”14 
As we come to know the Savior our desire to reach out and gather others in love, just as He would, increases. 
I invite all of us to consider what we can do to know the Savior better than we do today. 

Truth number 2. He hears you. 
In the Book of Mormon, the Savior commanded the Nephites, and us today, to always pray unto the Father in His, that is Jesus Christ’s, name.15 
Elder David L. Frischknecht shared the following about the miracle of prayer. He said: 
“While we should pray every day, continually, there is nothing ordinary or automatic or formulaic or common about prayer. Every time we sincerely pray to the Father in the name of the Lord, a unique, sacred miracle occurs. 
And the miracle is not simply that you found your lost car keys or that you remembered the right answer on the test or even that you received an answer to an urgent question in your life, though these might be miracles you would recall. The miracle is that you actually talked with God and that He in fact heard you and answered you.”16 
I am confident that each of you could share an experience where you prayed, and God heard you, and answered you. It may have been when you poured out your soul to Him in audible prayer. Or it may have been a silent prayer offered in a public place. Or a prayer you held in your heart for years. 
Sister Bonnie D. Parkin, former Relief Society general president, shared the following story about her husband’s grandmother receiving a direct answer to prayer.17 [FROM VIDEO] 
“Anna Matilda Anderson was a young girl who lived in Sweden in the 1880s. When she and her family joined the Church, they were ridiculed for their beliefs. Anna’s mother decided they should move to America and join the Saints in Utah. Anna was 11 years old when she and her sister, Ida, were sent ahead to earn money and bring the rest of the family. They sailed to the United States, then traveled by train to Ogden, Utah, where Ida left by covered wagon to work for her sponsors in Idaho. Anna was completely alone on that train as it continued to Salt Lake City. She spoke no English and knew no one. Can you imagine the loneliness and terror of her ride? 
“The train pulled into the darkened Rio Grande station just before midnight. The relative who was to meet Anna was not there. Anna stood watching with dread as the station slowly emptied. Finally, she was alone with a German family who also had no one to meet them. The darkness was thick and threatening, closing in around her. She later recalled: ‘I started to cry and thought about the last thing my mother told me: “If you come to a place where you can’t understand what the people are saying, don’t forget to pray to your Father in Heaven because He can understand you.”’ Anna knelt by her suitcase and pleaded with all her might for heavenly help. Haven’t we all said prayers like that? 
“The German family motioned for Anna to follow them. Having no other choice, she walked behind them, crying. Arriving at Temple Square, they heard rapid footsteps. A woman was hurrying toward them, studying each person she passed. She looked at the German family, then pressed on. Anna caught the woman’s searching gaze. The woman stopped, unbelieving. She recognized the young girl! And with a shock, Anna recognized the woman. She was her Sunday School teacher who had left Sweden a year earlier! Pulling Anna tightly into her arms, the teacher wiped away her frightened tears. She told Anna: ‘I was awakened over and over again. . . .Images of the arriving immigrants raced through my mind. I could not go back to sleep. I was prompted to come to the temple to see if there was anyone I knew here.’ 
“Can you believe it? A Sunday School teacher sent in a pitch-black night like an angel of light! ‘So you see,’ Anna remembered, ‘my Heavenly Father more than answered my prayers. I only asked for someone who could understand me, and He sent someone I knew.’” 
I now return to Justin’s story. As I drove home from my parents that October evening, reflecting on Justin’s situation, I had a distinct impression come into my mind—I either believed that when I prayed, God heard and answered my prayers, or He did not. The time to develop faith was past. 
During the next few days, weeks, and months, I prayed frequently, sincerely, and earnestly for Justin’s health and recovery. I know from personal experience that not all prayers are answered in the way we would like or in the time we prefer. We pray, we petition, we wait upon the Lord. 
Today Justin is a healthy, happy, talented, and kind, young man. Justin’s life is a miracle. He is a reminder to us that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are in the details of our lives. They were, and are, mindful of Justin and his situation. They knew what he was experiencing and what medical assistance he needed at that exact moment, and who would be able to provide that care. 
God hears us when we pray. The question for us is—do we hear and know the Good Shepherd’s voice?18 
The ability to hear the Lord’s voice is an indication that we are His disciples. After King Benjamin’s people made a covenant to take upon themselves Christ’s name and obey His commandments, King Benjamin admonished them to both know and hear the voice by which they were called.19 
Ministering to others in ways that are uniquely suited to them is one way we participate in gathering. As we increase our capacity to hear Jesus Christ’s voice, we are able to receive promptings for how we can best serve others. 
One day at church my friend Kathryn received a prompting to take a meal to a lady sitting a few rows in front of her. Kathryn approached the woman and offered her services. The woman indicated they were moving that week and the meal would be greatly appreciated. During the conversation, Kathryn asked if the woman’s mother would be helping her family move. In response, the woman said she had recently passed away. Kathryn then received an impression from the Spirit—it was this woman’s mother who was asking for someone to please help her daughter. 
Kathryn responded to a quiet prompting and helped a sister feel encircled in Christ’s love. 
Sometime later, one morning Kathryn prayed to feel her own deceased mother’s presence and recognize her influence. That day, a neighbor appeared at her doorstep with a pan of sweet rolls– just like her mother used to make. 
Hearing the Good Shepherd’s voice allows Christ to gather us, and for us to safely gather others to Him. President Russell M. Nelson has specifically invited us to think about how we hear the voice of the Lord and to take steps to hear Him better and more often. 20 

Truth number 3. He sees you. 
Perhaps there have been times you felt insignificant, even invisible. It may have seemed that nobody, including God, was aware of you. Even Joseph Smith cried out in Liberty Jail, “O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?” 21 
The truth is, the Lord sees us, even though we cannot see Him. 
In Doctrine and Covenants section 38:7 we read: “But behold, verily, verily, I say unto you that mine eyes are upon you. I am in your midst and ye cannot see me. . .”22 
My friend Liz shared the following experience about how she knew God was aware of her and the choices she was making.23
“Some time ago, I transitioned out of a young single adult ward into a conventional family ward. I wondered if I was giving up my chance to be married as I chose not to attend the older singles ward. As I prayed and asked if the opportunity for marriage would pass me by with this decision, I felt an impression from the Spirit: I know where you are. Heavenly Father was aware of the decisions I had made, and He knew exactly where I was and what I was doing. He knows where to find me when He needs me.” 
It seems that when we feel little or no control over our circumstances, that is when we earnestly seek an affirmation that the Lord sees us and is aware of our situation. That is how I felt last summer when both my parents were experiencing failing health. My dad was diagnosed with cancer followed by the discovery of a volleyball size tumor on his kidney. My mom had several health challenges, all of which were compounded by advanced dementia, which seemed to progress exponentially with my dad’s declining health. I was starting a new position at work, my schedule would be more demanding, and I was anxious about how my three siblings and I would care for mom once our dad passed away. 
During this time, my friend Brad shared with me his experience when his mom was dying from lung cancer just a few years earlier. He said, 
“I prayed to ask Heavenly Father to relieve my mom’s burden. The thought came to me that my mom was in His hands and care, and that my responsibility was to be faithful to Him and to my mom. It was a sobering experience for me. I was reminded that the Lord is not in some distant galaxy far away from us. He is near to us and in the details of our lives. He knows and controls when it is time for us to return to Him.” 
One day I went to the temple with the purpose of seeking an answer to a course of action for my mom. As I waited to participate in the ordinances, I was seated next to a beautiful painting of a young girl with long blonde hair cascading over her shoulders. She sat in a bright green pasture against a clear blue sky, with flowers in bloom all around her. I thought of my mom. When she was a young girl, she had long blonde hair; she wore it in braids. 
She found joy in flowers and gardening. The impression came that many family members were waiting on the other side of the veil to greet her. As I spent time pondering, I picked up the scriptures and the pages fell open to Doctrine and Covenants section 44:6 which reads: 
“Behold, I say unto you, that ye must visit the poor and the needy and administer to their relief, that they may be kept until all things may be done according to my law which ye have received.24” 
My answer was—I just needed to keep visiting mom and doing what I could to relieve her suffering. As Brad had said, the Lord was mindful of us and of mom’s situation. Five days later dad passed away. In the early morning hours on the day of dad’s funeral, mom quietly crossed the veil to be reunited with her sweetheart. My prayers were answered, and her burden was lifted. 
The Savior sees us. How often do we look for Jesus in our life? 
One day during the COVID-19 stay-at-home period a lady in our neighborhood suggested that we have a Look for Jesus day. She invited us to put a picture of Jesus in our front window and then the kids (and adults) could walk around the neighborhood looking for photos of the Savior. My heart was lifted, and testimony strengthened, as I strolled through the neighborhood on Sunday evening and noticed the quiet, simple declarations of We believe in Christ. 
In the scriptures the prophets repeatedly admonish us to remember the goodness of God.25 Likewise, we are commanded to thank the Lord in all things.26 There are many blessings that come from following this counsel. 27 One key blessing is the ever-present gift of His Spirit to be with us.28 The Spirit will guide our journey back to God. 
Recognizing and recording moments when we experience Christ’s hand in our lives is not just for our benefit. Sharing these stories with others can help them to trust in God and keep His commandments.29 
Indeed, bearing witness of the Savior and of His goodness is essential to gathering others to Christ. As we share testimony the Spirit can confirm the truth to another’s heart. Throughout time women who had the courage to stand as witnesses of Christ have had a profound effect on individuals and communities. Think of the women who in the early morning hours went to the Savior’s tomb only to find it empty,30 the Samaritan woman at the well,31 and Abish, in the Book of Mormon.32 
President M. Russell Ballard promised “The more you recognize the Lord’s hand in your lives, the more you will see it in your lives today.”33 

Truth number 4: He loves you 

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf stated: 
“Our Savior, the Good Shepherd, knows and loves us. He knows and loves you. He knows when you are lost, and He knows where you are. He knows your grief. Your silent pleadings. Your fears. Your tears. It matters not how you became lost—whether because of your own poor choices or because of circumstances beyond your control. What matters is that you are His child. And He loves you. He loves His children.” 
My colleague, Jeff, shared the following about his daughter Caroline and Christ’s love for her. Due to complications at birth, Caroline was deprived of oxygen causing severe disabilities. 
Jeff said: 
“Sometimes—frequently—Caroline becomes sad. She will cry and cry, and neither we nor the doctors can determine what is wrong. We just have to wait it out—and pray. . . Caroline is often sad and loud at church—or sometimes happy but still loud—and Christine or Lizzy or I, or a kind ward member, will take her out to the foyer of the chapel, where we push Caroline around in her chair, calming her with the movement. . .”34 
And now the rest of the story in Jeff’s own words: [FROM VIDEO] 
“One Sunday a couple of years ago, I came to church pushing an especially sad Caroline, thinking that we might just stay for the sacrament. As I walked the foyer and Caroline remained sad, I began to wonder if we would even make it until the sacrament. All my efforts to comfort her seemed fruitless, and Caroline’s crying was certainly disturbing others. 
But then the sacrament hymn began and Caroline calmed briefly when I started to sing. She quickly got fussy again, so I put my face close to hers and I sang to her. She quieted and listened. The sacrament hymn that day was “Reverently and Meekly Now,” which was written in the first-person voice, as if the Savior were singing. Admittedly, I was focused on Caroline and not on the song—until we came to the fourth verse, when I found myself singing these words to my daughter: 
I have loved thee as thy friend, 
With a love that cannot end. 
I looked into Caroline’s big blue eyes and felt deeply the tender, personal truth of those words for my daughter. Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, loves Caroline ‘with a love that cannot end.’ Even there in the foyer, in her less-than-ideal state, Caroline is loved. When she is sad or hurting, when her parents are clueless and incapable of comforting her, there is One who is her Everlasting Friend, who knows how she feels and how to succor her. 
The corollary is also true. Jesus is my friend, and He is yours. He knows my frailties— including my frailties of faith—and He knows yours. And He loves us not in spite of those frailties but with a full, compassionate understanding of them. He loves us in our crucible of spirit because He has felt what we feel—our doubt and discouragement as well as our sin and sorrow.” 
The Savior loves us. Do we love Him? 
If we love God with all our might, mind, and strength, we are promised that His grace sufficient for us. 
In Hebrew, the root word for grace is CHANAN which means to bend or stoop in kindness. 35,36 What a powerful image. Because of His Atonement, Christ is bending down, or stooping in kindness, to help us through our challenges in life. 
When we love the Savior, we, in turn, extend charity, the pure love of Christ to others37—we love without judgement, or conditions, or any expectations of love in return. 
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland suggested that one day we will individually report on our love for God: 
“My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: Did you love me? I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all—Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.”38 

Conclusion and Invitation 
I invite us all to make a conscious effort to develop a testimony of these simple truths. It will be a quest of a lifetime to come to know the Savior, to hear Him, to see and recognize His hand in our lives, and to demonstrate our love for Him. 
Having a conviction deep down in our heart that the Lord knows us, sees us, hears and loves us, will change our life. We will know why we are here and how we should be spending our time. Our confidence will increase. We will not be swayed by the opinions and philosophies of the world. 
It is our work to respond to the invitation to help gather scattered Israel and prepare for the Savior’s second coming. 
President Russell M. Nelson has indicated: 
“This gathering is the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on earth today!” To the sisters he specifically said, “We need you! . . .We need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices.”39 
When these four truths are written in the fleshy tables of our hearts, 40 we will care less about what people think about us, including how many likes or followers we have on our social media accounts. The Lord’s love is deeper and more enduring than any fleeting praise and adoration the world has to offer. 
Knowing the Lord has our back will give us the courage and confidence to face any trials that will come our way. When our foundation is the Lord, Jesus Christ, the devil may send forth his winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwinds, but they will have no power to drag us down to the gulf of misery and endless woe.41 
Several years ago, I was earnestly seeking an answer to a life question. One Sunday I approached the Lord in fasting and prayer. I determined to end my fast after I met with the stake presidency to be set apart for a calling. During the setting apart, the blessing I received was beautiful, but my question remained unanswered. At the conclusion of the meeting the stake president invited me to remain after the other seven or eight people left the room. He then told me that there was more to my blessing, but he felt it was too personal for the other people to hear. 
In that sacred setting as the stake president and his counselor once again placed their hands on my head, I received direct, unmistakable, personal revelation. 
This event has been a touchstone for me. When I begin to wonder if God knows me, sees me, hears my prayers, and loves me, I reflect back to that evening when God answered a prayer that was known only to Him and me alone.42 
The Good Shepherd has extended the invitation to each one of us. We can use our agency to respond or not; He will never force us. Our positive response will result in Him gathering us into the fold. 43 
The lyrics to the well-known Christian hymn, Softly and Tenderly44 say it best: 
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, 
Calling for you and for me; 
See, on the portals He's waiting and watching, 
Watching for you and for me. 
Come home, come home; 
Ye who are weary, come home; 
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling, 
Calling, O sinner, come home! I
joyfully testify of these truths. I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live. They are mindful of me and of you. They are in the details of our lives. 
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 


1 Luke 14:16-24; Matt 22:2-10 2 Revelations 19:9 3 Doctrine and Covenants 50:44 4 Ezekiel 34:13; Isaiah 11:12 5 Psalms 147:4 6 John 10:3 7 Moses 1:6-7;40 8 Moses 6:27 9 Enos 1:5 10 Joseph Smith-History 1:17 11 John 10:14 12 Doctrine and Covenants 29:27 13 Mosiah 26:24 14 David A. Bednar. If Ye had Known Me. October 2016 General Conference. 15 3 Nephi 18:19 16 David L. Frischknecht. Always Pray unto the Father in My Name. BYU Idaho Devotional 17 Bonnie D. Parkin. Finding Faith in Every Footstep April 1997 General Conference 18 John 10:3 19 Mosiah 5:8, 12 20 Russell M. Nelson. How do you #HearHim? A Special Invitation. February 26, 2020 21 Doctrine and Covenants 121:1 22 Doctrine and Covenants 38:7 23 Liz Stitt. What can I do to receive answers from God? April 2019 Ensign 24 Doctrine and Covenants section 44:6 25 Mosiah 4:11-12 26 Doctrine and Covenants 59:7 27 See Dale G. Renlund, Consider the Greatness of God. April 2020 General Conference; Henry B. Eyring, Remembrance and Gratitude, October 1989 General Conference.; Henry B. Eyring, O Remember, Remember, October 2007 General Conference. 28 Moroni 5:2 29 Psalms 78:2-7 30 Luke 24:1-10 31 John 4:1-30 32 Alma 19:16-17 33 President M. Russell Ballard. As quoted in Sarah Jane Weaver, What the story of John Howland taught President Ballard about expecting the Lord’s hand. Church News January 5, 2020. 34 Jeffrey S. McClellan. Thy Troubles to Bless. BYU Devotional 35 36 37 John 13:34-35 38 Jeffrey R. Holland. The First Great Commandment. October 2012 General Conference 39 Russell M. Nelson. Sister’s Participation in the Gathering of Israel October 2018 General Conference 40 2 Corinthians 3:3 41 Helaman 5:12 42 Doctrine and Covenants 15:3 43 Alma 5:60 44 Softly and Tenderly Lyrics (as performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir)


This Speech has been Translated by
Katherin Sandoval & Natalia del