In this article I explore the power of the Holy Ghost. 

I do so by comparing a Book of Mormon conversion to an experience of President Grant as a young President of the Tooele, Utah Stake at the age of 24

How Having a Testimony Can Be a “Time Bomb” That Explodes Into Subsequent Self-Consciousness

It is in Alma 10 that we are introduced and get to know Amulek.

In his preaching to the people of Ammonihah, Amulek is new to the ministry, his conversion to Christ being recent.

In explaining how a prominent citizen like himself, known to many and “of no small reputation” (he was rich) Amulek as a known quantity to the people of Ammonihah tried to explain his testimony.  These are the words he used to do that.

“I knew,” states Amulek.  “Yet I would not know,” adds Amulek. Referring to knowing yet not knowing “the ways of the Lord and his mysteries and marvelous powers the ways of the Lord and his mysteries and marvelous powers.”   (Alma 10:4-5.)

Knowing Without Knowing:  An Experience from the Life of Heber J. Grant

What Amulek describes here does not trade on two different types of knowledge.  However, you interpret these words of Amulek, just such a phenomenon is something I have often seen among the rising Royal Generation of the Church.  It is not semantics, but is one of the ways the Lord through the Spirit builds his Kingdom.

Amulek’s abstract-sounding language takes on a clearer meaning through an experience of Heber J. Grant when he was called to be President of the Tooele, Utah Stake when only 24 years of age.  (President Grant became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles while still in his 20’s.)

This account is taken from the book Gospel Standards, a compilation of President Grant’s teachings and life experiences.

In the Stake Conference where he was called and sustained, when asked to stand and share his testimony Stake President Grant did so with the complete integrity and candor that characterized both his business and his Church style.

The testimony he gave was somewhat on the weak side of testimonies.  After the meeting, one of the Brethren raised a concerned.

With President John Taylor watching on, another General Authority at lunch with Presidents Taylor and Grant after the meeting asked if President Grant had a certain knowledge that the Church was true.

Yes or no.

President Grant answered:  “I do not.”

“Then,” said the concerned inquisitor, “President Taylor, I am in favor of undoing what we have just done this morning, for no man is fit for Church office “who has not a perfect and abiding knowledge of the divinity of the work.”

President Grant responded with integrity, saying, “I am not going to complain.”

President Grant states what happened next:

“Brother Taylor had a habit, when something pleased him excessively, of shaking his body and laughing.’  Said President John Taylor of the testimony of young Stake President Grant: “[H]e” – Heber J. – “knows it just as well as you do.  The only thing that he does not know is that he does know it.  You do not need to worry.”

Less than two years later, on October 13th, 1882, Heber J. Grant was called to be an Apostle through a revelation to President John Taylor.

Conclusion and Confession

I confess here personally something very similar to my great-grandfather’s experience that befell me in deciding finally to go on a mission. 

As Amulek and the future Prophet ’s experience help illustrate, it sometimes takes the Spirit working with an inspired bishop to handle what may well look to a third-party as a crazy situation  that makes no sense. Hidden too is the agony involved for the apparently uncooperative one. 

I think back and remember personally two bishops who were as John Taylor to me –Francis M. Gibbons, bishop of my home Yalecrest Ward, and Gordon Romney, bishop of the Princeton Ward—when I was going through the terrors of doubting everything.  Each bishop carried their episcopal mantles with grace, no matter that some of my questions must have felt to them like high inside hard balls.  But all these honest inquiries lead to witness, and then witness led to Church service.

Be it Amulek, Heber J. Grant –or me, or you, or our offspring–these rescues represent the Lord’s love for us.  The Lord through the Spirit is a diligent Savior. 

These were rescues, and to witness them, let alone to be a part of one, is to learn something of the Lord’s loving trustworthiness.