Years ago, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and a colleague completed an interesting research project. Here is a description of what he and his colleague did: “To find out what teenagers’ lives are like, two psychologists gave beepers to seventy-five adolescents, signaled them at random, and asked them to record their thoughts and feelings as they sat in classrooms, socialized with friends, and ate dinner with their families. The result is a unique and detailed portrait of the day-to-day world of the average American teenager that offers valuable new insights for parents, psychologists, and educators.”
Think of that study as a metaphor for our relationship with God. He regularly—several times every day—sends beeps to us. When He beeps us, we take note of what is happening in our lives—especially the ways He is helping us learn, grow, and find peace. As we notice His beeps and make a record, we get a better sense of God’s purpose for us.
There are differences, of course, between the way the researchers beeped teens and the way God beeps us. God’s beeps are not random; they come as He sees our needs and as we seek after Him.
Also, God sends more than a beep. He regularly signals us with special sensations: feelings of peace or sweetness, flashes of insight, impulses to serve or be kind, bursts of gratitude, a sudden awareness of connection with Him. Every time He sends one of those sensations, we should take particular note—not of our thoughts and feelings as much as His message. Maybe He is saying: “Yes! You’re on the right track!” Or: “Thank you for reaching out to one of my children.” Or: “This is a true principle!” Or: “I love you. More than you know.” We can learn to discern His messages if we are attentive.
Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that important revelation from God must look like a section of the Doctrine and Covenants. That’s not the way most of God’s revelations come to us. Most are flashes of insight, affirming warmth, or reassuring goodness. If we are only looking for big revelations, we will miss out on the myriad of impressions that God has in store for us each of us each day.
President Eyring counsels us to look for heavenly messages every day—especially messages that are easily overlooked.
Tonight, and tomorrow night, you might pray and ponder, asking the questions: Did God send a message that was just for me? Did I see His hand in my life or the lives of my children? I will do that. And then I will find a way to preserve that memory for the day that I, and those that I love, will need to remember how much God loves us and how much we need Him. I testify that He loves us and blesses us, more than most of us have yet recognized. I know that is true, and it brings me joy to remember Him. (Remember, Remember, October 2007)
I am working on following President Eyring’s counsel. As I go through the day, I try to be more aware of the messages God is sending me. I actively seek to see His hand in my life and the life of my family on a daily basis. And instead of allowing those messages to be fleeting impressions that are quickly gone from my memory, I am finding ways to preserve them so that I can recognize the patterns of what He is teaching me and acknowledge that He is blessing me each day.
As I tallied up the times I saw His hand in my life in the last week, I counted 37 specific incidents of messages from Him recorded in the small plates of Wally. At least, that is the number of incidents I recorded when I sat down at the end of each day. I am pretty sure He sent many messages that I missed or forgot to record.
But this week I did note many signals of loving truth.
As I contemplated His messages from the past week, I listed new ideas and insights that came to me. I felt pure fire when I testified of Him several times. We were touched by watching The Chosen and feeling the power of His life, love, and ministry. We felt love and connection when we scanned and posted ancestor pictures. We felt sweetness as we tried to help a new Chinese family moving to our town. We felt awe as we admired some old friends who came to visit. Each of these entries in my journal may have only been a few words, but each was filled with gratitude and awareness of God’s abiding presence in my life.
To adapt the description of Samuel, I would like to be the kind of person who lets none of the words of God fall to the ground (1 Samuel 3:19). I’m sure that, as we faithfully note His messages to us, we become aware of more and more of His messages. “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:24). When we notice His messages—in all their forms—we feel His love and companionship. Our faith that God is near us grows stronger and His influence in our lives is enlarged.
When we make a record of His messages, we use His light to guide our lives. We begin to see patterns in His messages intended as customized counsel to us. As we record the ways that He has been involved in our lives, we compile heavenly evidence that God is active in the world as He blesses His children.
When we return to His messages and study them, we are more willing to become His messengers. Having felt of His great love, we are inspired to share it with others. Our journal entries are like thank you notes to Heaven.
I am so grateful for the 37 messages God sent me that I recorded last week. I hope to notice dozens of His messages in the week ahead. I hope to be filled with a sense of His presence. My mortal research assignment is to catch God in the act of blessing me and all of His children.
Neil L. Andersen challenged us all in that great bicentennial conference:
Embrace your sacred memories. Believe them. Write them down. Share them with your family. Trust that they come to you from your Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son. Let them bring patience to your doubts and understanding to your difficulties. I promise you that as you willingly acknowledge and carefully treasure the spiritually defining events in your life, more and more will come to you. Heavenly Father knows you and loves you! (May 2020, pp. 21-22).