3 And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.
4 And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not.
5 And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came.
6 And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard…
(3 Nephi 11:3-6)
After the destruction which coincided with the death of Jesus Christ, a group of Nephites were gathered near a temple. Their conversations were interrupted by a voice which they all heard. Mormon describes the voice as quiet yet penetrating. His description mirrors the description of a voice heard by a group of Lamanites about 64 years earlier:
…it was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul—
And notwithstanding the mildness of the voice, behold the earth shook exceedingly, and the walls of the prison trembled again, as if it were about to tumble to the earth…
What happens when a voice is both mild and piercing? As the Nephites in the passage above discovered, you may notice it but you may not understand it. Twice, the Nephites heard the voice without being able to understand what it was saying. The third time, they did something different:
- They opened their ears to hear.
- They looked up, because the sound seemed to be coming from heaven.
As a result of these actions, they understood the voice the third time.
I think I know what it means to open my ears. Sometimes, I hear what is going on around me, but I’m not really paying attention. Like the Nephites, I may need to take a moment and focus my attention in order to truly understand what is being said.
Today, I will choose to listen to the Spirit of the Lord. I will remember that, although His voice may be piercing, it is small and quiet. I will make the effort to pay attention, and if necessary, I will stop what I am doing, so that I can focus my attention and understand the guidance that my Heavenly Father is sending to me.