29 January 2008

In Honor of Our Beloved Prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley

For those who don't already know, God's most recent Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away Sunday evening around 7:00pm Mountain Time.

I know there are thousands of tributes to this great man in many forms out there; and I would be entirely ungrateful to not post one of my own.

This great man has been an inspiration in my life for as long as I can remember; even before he became the Prophet. I could always relate to President Hinckley when he would address the Church in whatever capacity he served in.

I think part of it had to do with his quick wit and fun sense of humor. He was always good for a one-liner at the most opportune of times. He always made us feel good about ourselves, even when he needed to call us to repentance. :)

There was one experience I'll never forget; one that affirmed to me of his divine calling as the Lord's chosen mouthpiece. I had prayed about President Hinckley when he was called to be Prophet and knew from the promptings of the Holy Spirit that he is a Prophet of God. I'd also had subsequent re-affirmations that this was true when I'd hear him speak and felt the same feelings.

Our Church schedules conferences at different geographical levels at different intervals. As many of you know, there are Worldwide General Conferences held bi-annually. We also hold Stake Conferences (more localized) and Ward Conferences (even more localized) bi-annually.

Every three years there is a Region Conference where several Wards/Stakes are invited to attend and this particular one was held in Downtown Salt Lake City; in the beautiful LDS Conference Center.

We obtained tickets to the Conference and had seating near the back row of the Conference Center. We arrived around an hour early to make sure we were ready to go when the conference began. While we waited for it to start, we chatted about various things.

My wife and I wondered if maybe President Hinckley would appear at our Regional Conference; but that seemed silly to me as there are tons of these for many different regions held every year; I was sure the Prophet didn't make it to all of them in-person. He wasn't scheduled to be at this one; but, of course, we thought that would be really cool.

About 15 minutes later, I felt the Spirit extremely strong and wondered if he really was there. The next thing I knew, a reverent hush fell over the entire Conference Center and slowly, the crowd started to rise to their feet. Several seconds later, President Hinckley stepped in a side door near the front of the Conference Center auditorium.

I don't mean to be irreverent here, but I can't think of any other way to describe it. It was as if someone had hooked the feelings the Holy Spirit brings up to a Gigawatt amplifier and blared it throughout the entire Conference Center. I knew I was truly in the presence of a man of God.

He took the liberty of addressing us in that conference, and to be honest, I don't recall what was said that day; but the feeling will always be remembered every time I remember that experience.

I hope to be half-the-man President Hinckley was. In his late 90's, he exhibited more energy than I have; travelling the world and spreading the love and message of the resurrected Savior of the World to all that had the blessed opportunity of interacting with him.

He feared no man, stood steadfast and true to the principles he taught and lived; yet was gentle, down-to-earth and made all who interacted with him feel welcome and at-ease.

So I pay my tribute to you President Hinckley, legendary servant of God and the legacy you leave behind. Thanks for being such an inspiration to me; I will miss you greatly, and am happy you get to be reunited with your sweet wife, other family members, past Prophets and most importantly, our Heavenly Father and His only begotten son, Jesus Christ.

God bless...

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