4 The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season unto thee, O house of Israel. When ye are weary he waketh morning by morning. He waketh mine ear to hear as the learned.
5 The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.
(2 Nephi 7:4-5, Isaiah 50:4-5)
The metaphor of being spiritually asleep and needing to be awakened appears many times in the scriptures. One of the most vivid of those is 2 Nephi 1, in which Lehi pleads with his oldest sons, Laman and Lemuel, to “awake from a deep sleep, yea even from the sleep of hell” (2 Nephi 1:13). I can relate to the idea of the Lord “awakening” both my tongue and my ear, as Isaiah describes in the passage above:
- When I have the opportunity to teach the gospel, I often gain new insights while I am speaking. I can relate to Marion G. Romney’s statement: “I always know when I am speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost because I always learn something from what I’ve said” (quoted in “Teaching by the Spirit—’The Language of Inspiration’,” Teaching Seminary: Preservice Readings (2004), 35–40).
- It is remarkable to me how much more clearly I can understand something when I have the companionship of the Holy Ghost. For example, after participating in the dedication of the Palmyra, New York Temple on April 6, 2000, as I read the 84th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, I was able to make connections and receive insights I had never seen before in that section. Likewise, Joseph Smith testified that, after he and Oliver Cowdery received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, “we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of” (Joseph Smith—History 1:74).
Henry David Thoreau believed that most of us are effectively asleep most of the time, and that we needed to wake ourselves up in order to be truly productive. I love the following passage from Walden:
Moral reform is the effort to throw off sleep. Why is it that men give so poor an account of their day if they have not been slumbering?… If they had not been overcome with drowsiness they would have performed something. The millions are awake enough for physical labor; but only one in a million is awake enough for effective intellectual exertion, only one in a hundred million to a poetic or divine life. To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face? (Walden, New York: Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., 1910, 117).
Today, I will be grateful for the many ways God awakens me. I will particularly remember how He has blessed my tongue and my ears, helping me to both speak and understand truth far better than I could on my own.