Thursday, June 10, 2021

Elder LeGrand Richards on the blessings of the Holy Ghost

Elder LeGrand Richards (1886-1983) served as the Presiding Bishop of the Church from 1938-1952, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He died in 1983 at age 96.  Many today remember him fondly for his spirited, usually extemporaneous talks in conference about missionary work or the plan of salvation.  This excerpt is from the first talk he offered after being called as an apostle:
"I thank God for the opportunities that I have enjoyed of working among you, and in his Church, the missions that I have been able to fill, and the other sundry odd jobs, because I truly love the work more than anything else in this world, and I know it is true. I could live better without the limbs of my body than I could without the testimony of the Holy Ghost and the Spirit of the Lord.... 
"I tell you in all sincerity that the Holy Ghost, the Comforter that the Savior promised to send to guide us in all truth and bring things to our remembrance, is just as much a reality to me and just as necessary for our well-being as the sun that shines in the heavens is to the seed that is sown in the ground, and the plants as they germinate and come forth. I know the power of the Holy Ghost is in this Church.... 
"Like Nephi of old said, 'He [the Lord] hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh' (see 2 Ne. 4:21). 
"I feel sorry for Latter-day Saints if they have never felt that power, and that blessing, unto almost the consumption of their flesh." 
- LeGrand Richards, General Conference, April 1952

After 14 years of service as a Church leader, at the age of 66 when most men are retiring, Elder Richards was beginning his service as an apostle that would last for the next 31 years. This was a stirring introduction to the man that would become much-loved for his deep commitment and boundless enthusiasm. Those of us who remember him can hear his voice saying these words:

Ironically, Elder Richards did have part of his right leg amputated the year before he died due to the effects of diabetes. When he returned to his office after recovery and was asked by a secretary how he was doing, he reportedly quipped, "To be honest with you sister, I'm on my last leg."

But what a sweet testimony of the importance of the Holy Ghost's influence in our lives — as necessary as sunshine to the growth of plans. Elder Richards clearly knew that spirit, knew how it felt and how it blessed his life, and knew the power and peace it brought to his life. We should strive to have that same blessing in our lives, "even unto the consuming of my flesh."

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
February 6, 2015

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