Kim B. Clark in his talk entitled Eyes to See and Ears to Hear, said:
In His mortal ministry, Jesus worked such mighty miracles of healing and taught with such authority and power that the scripture says, “His fame went throughout all Syria … and there followed him great multitudes of people.” (Matt 4:24-25)
Some who saw Him heal and heard Him teach rejected Him. Others followed Him for a season but then walked with Him no more. (John 6:66) The Lord Jesus Christ was there in front of them, but they did not see who He really was. They were blind, and they chose to turn away. Of them, Jesus said:
“I came unto my own, and my own received me not.” (3 Nephi 9:16)
“Their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed.” (Matt 13:15)
When I ponder Christ’s life, I wonder how I would have reacted had I been privileged to hear and see Him during His ministry. Would I have followed Him for a season, but then turned aside when it got rough? Would my EYES have closed to the truth and my EARS shut to His saving words? Or would I have joined those rare few who stuck with Him to the end?
A good indicator of what we would have done back then is how we live right now. Do I yearn to read my scriptures and hear His words from prophets at general conference twice a year? Or do I block out the Spirit’s peace by worldly devices and distractions? Do I cherish His words in the conference issue of the Ensign when they come out and study His teachings and warnings? Do I keep my EYES open so I am not blinded by the philosophies of the world that are so subtle and tricky that they deceive even the very elect?
In 2 Nephi 9: 30, a warning is given to the “deaf that will not hear.” These are individuals who won’t hear the voice of God through His prophets and scriptures. Those who are spiritually deaf follow their own counsel and close their EARS to additional understanding and insight…and their reward is spiritual destruction. They don’t want to hear truth, so they plug their EARS with the world’s ‘cottony’ doctrines that flatter and puff up with pride. They lose their way because they close their EYES and become bound by Satan’s cords of misery instead of basking in the light.
Jacob pleads with his audience to “give ear to my words.” When we give EAR to God’s words, He blesses us to see and know truth from falsehood. Elder Clark expounds on this truth:
Although the times [the apostles] lived in were dangerous and confusing, they received the spiritual gift of EYES to see and EARS to hear. By the power of the Holy Ghost, they began to see the truth of things as they really are, especially of the Lord Jesus Christ and His work among them. The Holy Ghost enlightened their understanding, and they heard the voice of the Lord more clearly. The gospel of Jesus Christ sank deep into their hearts. (Enos 1:3) They were steadfast and obedient. (Acts 2:42) They preached the gospel with boldness and power and built up the kingdom of God. (Acts 4:8-12) They had joy in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We have much in common with those faithful men and women in the meridian of time. We too live in a time when the Lord Jesus Christ works miracles among us—including healing the sick, cleansing us from sin, changing our hearts, and opening salvation to God’s children on both sides of the veil. In our time we also have living prophets and apostles, priesthood power, spiritual gifts, and the supernal blessings of the ordinances of salvation.
Our time is a dangerous time—a time of great evil and temptation, a time of confusion and commotion. In these perilous times, the Lord’s prophet on the earth, President Thomas S. Monson, has called us to rescue the wounded in spirit, (See “Looking Back and Moving Forward,” Ensign, May 2008, 90), to stand for truth with courage, (See “Be Strong and of a Good Courage,” Ensign, May 2014, 66–69) and to build the kingdom of God. (See “Faith in the Work of Salvation,” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, June 2013, lds.org/broadcasts). Whatever level of spirituality or faith or obedience we now have, it will not be sufficient for the work that lies ahead. We need greater spiritual light and power. We need EYES to see more clearly the Savior working in our lives and EARS to hear His voice more deeply in our hearts.
How do we open our EYES and EARS to God?
The companionship of the Holy Ghost is the key. This great gift is given to those who are baptized by immersion by one holding the correct authority from God and bestowed through the ordinance of laying on of hands. Elder Clark says this about this magnificent Godly gift:
Life may get hard, confusing, painful, and discouraging. I bear you my witness that through the companionship of the Holy Ghost, the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ will cut through the confusion, the pain, and the darkness. Whether it comes in a remarkable burst or in a gentle flow, that glorious spiritual power will infuse healing love and comfort into the repentant, wounded soul; dispel darkness with the light of truth; and cast out discouragement with hope in Christ. We will see these blessings come, and we will know by the witness of the Spirit that it is the Lord Jesus Christ working in our lives. Our burdens truly will be “swallowed up in the joy of [our Redeemer].”(Alma 27:17)
I’d like to conclude with a bit of wisdom from Virginia Pierce in a talk entitled “Listening with New Ears.” She issued an invitation to use our EARS in a way that will benefit us spiritually by following these four steps:
1—Listen to and read the words of [the prophets].
It’s easy to say: “That was a really good talk. He’s one of my favorite speakers.” Then we go home and continue to be the same people with the same problems. [During general conference]…listen with new ears. Read and reread the messages. Is the Lord using his prophets to answer your prayers? Is the Lord using his prophets to send you a message that you are loved and are on the right road…? Is the Lord using his prophets to give you some instructions to practice or warnings to act on?
2—Identify, with the help of the Holy Ghost, a personal message
There will be an idea or a few words that you will feel are spoken just for you. Their interpretation will be yours alone. This is the process of personal revelation. It is simple. Don’t brush it aside.
3—Put the message into action.
Practice. “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). This is the whole point of revelation. It doesn’t matter how often the Lord chooses to speak to us if we fail to do anything about it.
4—Notice the changes in your life and feelings.
Good feelings will come when we conform our lives to the will of God as expressed through his chosen prophets.
In Jesus’s day, he came upon a blind man. Taking clay he mixed it with spittle and anointed his eyes and told him to go and wash. When the people came upon this man who had once been blind, they asked him how it was possible that he now could see.
“He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight.” (John 9:11)
We, too, can receive our sight from Christ. If we go to Him in prayer each day and ask for EYES to see and EARS to hear…like the blind man, He can open up our vision to take in more than just this world…but an eternal perspective. May we make this our goal—to listen with new ears and see with new sight…and receive the joy that God has prepared for those who follow Him.