I went on my way rejoicing

by Howard Collett

Insight to Come Follow Me – Doctrine and Covenants 49-50

Gifts of the Spirit

Like all great teachers, Wilford Woodruff documented in his journals both a principle and an application relevant to “that which is of God is light” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:24). One such instance was in 1848, where Wilford records his experience of listening to the revelations of the Holy Ghost, a gift of the spirit. 

Following the epic pioneer journey to the Salt Lake Valley, Wilford Woodruff was assigned to take his family to Boston to gather a remnant of the Latter-day Saints and lead them back to Salt Lake—a round-trip journey of more than 4,700 miles.


Wilford recorded in his journal when a faithful servant of God is sent forth to do his work, “and there is any snare or evil in his path . . .  the Lord will reveal to him all that is necessary to meet the emergency.” Wilford further recorded the following:

The teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith to President John Taylor and the rest of us was to obtain the Holy Spirit, get acquainted with it and its operations, and listen to the whisperings of that Spirit and obey its voice, and it soon will become a principle of revelation unto us.

We have found this true in our experience, and in order to prove whether a revelation is from God or not we follow out the principles revealed to us, and if we find that which was manifested to us prove true, we know it is from God; for truth is one of His attributes, and the Holy Ghost deceiveth no man.

Then, specifically beckoning to the younger generation to read his words, he shared the following story of his experience applying the principle of listening to the revelations of the Holy Ghost. 


While on my way east I put my carriage into the yard of one of the brethren in Indiana, and Brother Orson Hyde set his wagon by the side of mine, and not more than two feet
from it.

Dominicus Carter, of Provo, and my wife and four children were with me. My wife, one child and I went to bed in the carriage, the rest sleeping in the house.

I had been in bed but a short time when a voice said to me: “Get up, and move your carriage."

It was not thunder, lightning or an earthquake, but the still, small voice of the Spirit of God the Holy Ghost.

I told my wife I must get up and move my carriage. She asked: "What for?"

I told her I did not know, only the Spirit told me to do it.

I got up and moved my carriage several rods, and set it by the side of the house.

As I was returning to bed the same Spirit said to me, ''Go and move your mules away from that oak tree,” which was about one hundred yards north of our carriage.

I moved them to a young hickory grove and tied them up. I then went to bed.

In thirty minutes a whirlwind caught the tree to which my mules had been fastened, broke it off near the ground, and carried it one hundred yards, sweeping away two fences in its course, and laid it prostrate through that yard where my carriage stood, and the top limbs hit my carriage as it was.

In the morning I measured the trunk of the tree which fell where my carriage had stood, and I found it to be five feet in circumference. It came within a foot of Brother Hyde's wagon, but did not touch it.

Thus, by obeying the revelation of the Spirit of God to me I saved my life and the lives of my wife and child, as well as my animals.

In the morning I went on my way rejoicing.

Wilford also recorded this inspired counsel:

When a man becomes acquainted with the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, which is revelation, he should be very careful to obey it, for his life may depend upon it. Revelation is one of the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

View the full context of this story and for additional stories in Wilford’s journals online at the Wilford Woodruff Papers website.