In his October 2011 General Conference address, “Stand in Holy Places,” President Thomas S. Monson shared an experience as a small part of his talk that I find instructive in several ways. The experience was actually a miracle, a small one but a meaningful one. It also demonstrates something that people who have observed and listen to Thomas S. Monson have long known: this is a man who seeks and listens to inspiration from God. But there are other lessons for us as we consider how he prepared to receive this inspiration, how he listened to it, and how he had the courage to act on it.
As you read the account below, also notice the many specific details that are provided that can be used to validate the story. People, places, dates. I hope all of you will take care to record your own spiritual experiences and small miracles with such useful detail for your own posterity (or even your own blog).
Interestingly, after I shared this story in a talk in Nanjing yesterday, I had two different people from the audience approach me to validate the account. One person, Bryce F. from Altamont, Utah, met the Dutch man in this story, Peter Mourik, during a sealing session at the Provo Temple a couple of weeks after President Monson shared the story. He asked if the story as related by President Monson happened as described, and received confirmation that the story was correct. He also learned other details from Brother Mourik, who related that at the time the powerful impression came prompting him to rush to the Temple, he had been in a meeting with LDS servicemen. Another person in the congregation also approached me and told me that they had met a family member of Peter Mourik and asked about the story, and also received confirmation (update: more specifically, he was a roommate with a son son-in-law of Brother Mourik–corrected nature of the family relationship Dec. 8, 2013).
Here is the account from President Monson:
Since that time of long ago, I have had countless prayers answered. Not a day has gone by that I have not communicated with my Father in Heaven through prayer….
I am always humbled and grateful when my Heavenly Father communicates with me through His inspiration. I have learned to recognize it, to trust it, and to follow it. Time and time again I have been the recipient of such inspiration. One rather dramatic experience took place in August of 1987 during the dedication of the Frankfurt Germany Temple. President Ezra Taft Benson had been with us for the first day or two of the dedication but had returned home, and so it became my opportunity to conduct the remaining sessions.
On Saturday we had a session for our Dutch members who were in the Frankfurt Temple district. I was well acquainted with one of our outstanding leaders from the Netherlands, Brother Peter Mourik. Just prior to the session, I had the distinct impression that Brother Mourik should be called upon to speak to his fellow Dutch members during the session and that, in fact, he should be the first speaker. Not having seen him in the temple that morning, I passed a note to Elder Carlos E. Asay, our Area President, asking whether Peter Mourik was in attendance at the session. Just prior to standing up to begin the session, I received a note back from Elder Asay indicating that Brother Mourik was actually not in attendance, that he was involved elsewhere, and that he was planning to attend the dedicatory session in the temple the following day with the servicemen stakes.
As I stood at the pulpit to welcome the people and to outline the program, I received unmistakable inspiration once again that I was to announce Peter Mourik as the first speaker. This was counter to all my instincts, for I had just heard from Elder Asay that Brother Mourik was definitely not in the temple. Trusting in the inspiration, however, I announced the choir presentation and the prayer and then indicated that our first speaker would be Brother Peter Mourik.
As I returned to my seat, I glanced toward Elder Asay; I saw on his face a look of alarm. He later told me that when I had announced Brother Mourik as the first speaker, he couldn’t believe his ears. He said he knew that I had received his note and that I indeed had read it, and he couldn’t fathom why I would then announce Brother Mourik as a speaker, knowing he wasn’t anywhere in the temple.
During the time all of this was taking place, Peter Mourik was in a meeting at the area offices in Porthstrasse. As his meeting was going forward, he suddenly turned to Elder Thomas A. Hawkes Jr., who was then the regional representative, and asked, “How fast can you get me to the temple?”
Elder Hawkes, who was known to drive rather rapidly in his small sports car, answered, “I can have you there in 10 minutes! But why do you need to go to the temple?”
Brother Mourik admitted he did not know why he needed to go to the temple but that he knew he had to get there. The two of them set out for the temple immediately.
During the magnificent choir number, I glanced around, thinking that at any moment I would see Peter Mourik. I did not. Remarkably, however, I felt no alarm. I had a sweet, undeniable assurance that all would be well.
Brother Mourik entered the front door of the temple just as the opening prayer was concluding, still not knowing why he was there. As he hurried down the hall, he saw my image on the monitor and heard me announce, “We will now hear from Brother Peter Mourik.”
To the astonishment of Elder Asay, Peter Mourik immediately walked into the room and took his place at the podium.
Following the session, Brother Mourik and I discussed that which had taken place prior to his opportunity to speak. I have pondered the inspiration which came that day not only to me but also to Peter Mourik. That remarkable experience has provided an undeniable witness to me of the importance of being worthy to receive such inspiration and then trusting it—and following it—when it comes. I know without question that the Lord intended for those who were present at that session of the Frankfurt Temple dedication to hear the powerful, touching testimony of His servant Brother Peter Mourik.
We don’t know why, but for some reason the Lord wanted Brother Mourik to speak at this event, and provided guidance to two people willing to listen to make it happen. This does not mean that the Lord endorses every decision, action, or attitude of either of those imperfect men. It does not mean that this event was more important than all the other big issues going on in the world. It does not mean that the Lord endorses fast driving in sports cars. But it does remind us that miracles do happen. It also reminds us that we do have leaders who seek and listen to the promptings of the Spirit in their lives, however imperfect some of them may be.
The point of President Monson’s story, however, is not about how inspired he is, but about how each of us has the privilege, if we will seek it, of receiving personal revelation and guidance to help us throughout our lives. May be pursue that privilege and live so that we can stay close enough to the Lord that we can hear and respond when He wishes to guide.