Do you remember the song which begins, "I think when I read that sweet story of old, when Jesus was here among men, how he called little children like lambs to his fold; I should like to have been with him then"? ("I Think When I Read That Sweet Story," Children's Songbook, 56). Try to imagine what it would have been like to have Jesus place His hands on your head and bless you as the scriptures say He did when He was on earth.
Think of being able to actually be near the Savior. Imagine being loved and healed and blessed and guided by Him as they were then. When He was on the earth the members of His Church loved Him, they depended on Him, and they followed Him. You can imagine how saddened they were at the prospect of Him leaving them, but He promised: "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever. . . . The Comforter . . . is the Holy Ghost" (John 14:16, 26). He then gave them the priceless gift of the Comforter to be their companion after He was gone.
You too are loved by the Lord, just as were the disciples of old. You are loved more than you will ever know. He wants you to be successful in your life's mission! You don't have to face the experiences of this life alone, nor have you been sent here to fail.
For this reason a holy gift was given to you at the time of your baptism and confirmation, when hands were placed on your head and you were told, "Receive the Holy Ghost." It is almost as if your Father in Heaven gave you a gift to celebrate your official entrance into His kingdom on earth. The Holy Spirit can be with you always and guide you back to Him, but in order to enjoy the benefits of this holy gift, you must truly receive it, and then you must use it in your life. How sad it would be to be given such a precious gift and then set it aside and never use it. I would like to talk to you about just three of the things the Holy Ghost can do. He can comfort, guide, and testify.
First, let's focus on the comforting power of the Holy Ghost. When I was just a young girl, I became seriously ill. Each day the illness became increasingly severe. Nothing the doctor recommended helped. At that time the dreaded disease of polio was raging in almost epidemic proportions in the land. It was taking the lives of many, and those who didn't die were often left crippled. Polio was everyone's worst fear in those days.
One night my illness became critical, and my father and grandfather administered to me using consecrated oil, and through the power of the holy Melchizedek Priesthood, which they held worthily, they called upon God for healing, help, guidance, and comfort. And then my parents took me to a doctor in another town who immediately sent us to Salt Lake Citytwo and one-half hours awaywith the admonition to hurry. I overheard the doctor whisper that he was certain it was polio.
When we finally arrived at the hospital in Salt Lake, there were medical personnel waiting for us. They grabbed me from my parents' arms and whisked me away. Without a word of good-bye or explanation, we were separated. I was all alone, and I thought I was going to die.
Following the painful diagnostic procedures, including a spinal tap, they took me to a hospital isolation room, where I would stay all by myself with the hope that I would not infect anyone else, for indeed I did have polio.
I remember how very frightened I was. It was dark and I was so sick and so alone. But my parents had taught me to pray. I got on my knees, and I knelt beside the railing in the criblike bed and asked Heavenly Father to bless me. I was crying, I remember. Heavenly Father heard my prayer even though I was only a child. He did. Heavenly Father sent His comforting power, which enveloped me in quiet love. I felt the power of the Holy Ghost, and I was not alone.
Let me tell you a second experience. I know of a precious young woman who needs comfort because of a heartache in her life. She is worried about her family situation and the disharmony between her parents. It is sad and very troubling to her and to her brothers and sisters. She is the oldest child and wonders what she can do about this serious problem in their family. Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation. Although there is no solution that is easy and there is no one formula that will work for everyone with a heartache or a concern, there is One who cares very much about your situation, and He knows what you should do. That is our Father in Heaven. He cares as much about your life as if He were right here with you and could speak with you face-to-face. He knows the feelings of this girl's heart, and He knows the feelings of your heart as well. To bless you, the gift of peace that the Holy Spirit brings has been given to you. Jesus said: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27). Young women, pray for comfort, and that gift will come to you.
My second point is, the Holy Spirit has the power to guide. A 15-year-old girl felt that she needed to find new friends. Have you ever felt that way? She writes, "Now, I don't know if you have ever had to change friends, but it honestly was the hardest thing I have ever had to do." She decided to put her problem in the hands of the Lord, and she also counseled with her parents. She says that after several months "she wanted to just give up." One afternoon she was casually talking to her seminary teacher, and she confided her problem to him. Then he said, "I really don't know why I am asking you this, but do you happen to know these girls?" This girl answered with a yes. And then he said, "Have you ever thought about being friends with them?"
"I told him that there was no way that I could fit in with them. He then asked me if he could talk to one of the girls. I decided I would let him, if he promised not to embarrass me.
"Well, that next day I received a phone call from one of the girls. Now, you have to understand that this girl was on student council, and I hate to use the term, but she was 'extremely popular.' She asked if I would like to go to the basketball game with her that night. That night was one of the funnest, most peaceful nights of my life. The next day at school, she introduced me to two other girls. We all instantly became friends. This event has changed me."
She concludes by saying, "I don't know about you, but I would much rather have the Lord, who knows the outcome of everything, direct my life than me, who just sees things as they are at the time. He is right by our side, walking us through life, even when we feel so alone" (letter on file in the Young Women office).
The Lord promises us that "because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer" (Moro. 8:26).
Your Heavenly Father will help you find the right path as you seek His guidance. Remember though, after you pray you must get off your knees and start doing something positive; head in the right direction! He will send people along the way who will assist you, but you must be doing your part as well. By the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, you can be guided in your trip through life.
Point number threethe Holy Ghost is also a testifier. This Holy Spirit can help you really understand deep down inside the most important truth ever knownthat Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and that because of Him every one of us who ever lived will one day live again. And because of Him we can repent of wrongdoing and get on the path that leads us back to our Heavenly Father. That is what the Atonement is. The Holy Spirit will testify of that truth to our hearts as we seek to know, and He testifies to others as we bear our testimony of these truths to them.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland teaches that when we bear our testimony to others, they "are not only hearing our testimony of Christ, but they are hearing echoes of other, earlier testimonies, including their own testimony of Him," for they were among the valiant who chose Christ and chose to follow Him over Satan in the premortal life. Elder Holland says, "When they hear others bear that witness of [Christ's] saving mission, it has a familiar feeling; it brings an echo of truth they themselves already know." Furthermore, when you bear testimony of Christ's mission, "you invoke the power of God the Father and the Holy Ghost" (see "Missionary Work and the Atonement," Ensign, Mar. 2001, 1112). In Moroni chapter 10, verse 5, we are promised that "by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." My dear young sisters, work to gain a testimony of Christ's mission. It will come to you by the power of the Holy Ghost. Then share your testimony and bear it often.
The Holy Spirit is a comforter, a guide, a testifier. What a remarkable and holy member of the Godhead. And you have the right to His influence and inspiration! How blessed and loved you are! Now, because you have been given so much, you too must give. And so tonight, with this in mind, we would like to make a very special request of you. It is an invitation, really, and we hope you will accept it, and we hope you will act upon it. Are you ready? This is the invitation:
Will you reach out and bring one other young woman into full activity in the Church this coming year? Surely each one of you knows of a girl who is less active or a recent convert or who is not a member. We are asking you to reach out and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with one other young woman so that she can also enjoy the sweet blessings of heaven that we have spoken of tonight.
Think of how many lives would be blessed, how many young women could be comforted and guided and have stronger testimonies. This year there are over one-half million young women in the Church. Just think, if each one of you will accept this invitation to reach out and bring in just one, next year there will be twice as many active young women! Let the Holy Spirit guide you in your effort. Your parents and your leaders will also help you know what to do and how to do it. We will be eager to learn of your experiences and your successes. In my message to you I did not use a story to illustrate the third point of this talk, which was to testify, because this story will be yours to write as you accept our invitation. I hope that you will begin that story tonight.
I began with a song reminding us of the days when the Savior lived on earth among men. I now conclude with the words of a hymn reminding us that though He has gone from our view, our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, still lives to bless us with His love: "He lives to silence all my fears. He lives to wipe away my tears. He lives to calm my troubled heart. He lives all blessings to impart" ("I Know That My Redeemer Lives," Hymns, no. 136). I testify that He does so through the gift and power of the Holy Ghost. I pray that we will receive and use this sacred gift from God, in the holy name of our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.