The whisper that shakes the earth

Posted by Matthew Watkins on September 3, 2017

Note: Today I’m starting something new. I call is “Fast Thoughts.” Every Fast Sunday, instead of a normal post, I’ll share just a quick little insight and invite you all to share your own “fast thoughts” on the subject in the comments. Enjoy!


Nephi and Lehi were an amazingly powerful missionary brother duo. The preached “with such great power and authority” that they not only converted thousands of Lamanites but also a lot of hardened Nephite defectors. But this success also came with a lot of hardship. Like that one time they were tossed into prison and were about to be killed. But the Lord is always there for His missionaries. He shrouded the prison in darkness and spoke to the Lamanites in the prison directly, calling them to repent in a “mild,” quiet voice. But this still, small voice still packed a punch:

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–

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.

Helaman 5:30-31

My “fast thought” about this experience is that even mild, quiet voices can have a profound and even earth-shaking impact. In fact, I would suggest that quiet, mild voices have an especially powerful impact. Here’s an example:

Frank Watkins

That’s Frank L. Watkins, my paternal grandfather. He was a sealer in the Mesa Temple:

Frank Watkins

He was a great man. And one of the most soft-spoken men I have ever met. My family and I lived with him and my grandma in their house several times during my dad’s tour in the military. I was a rambunctious child, making messes, and causing trouble. But in all the time we spent together, he never raised his voice.

Except for that one time.

I was only about 4, but I still remember it clearly. I was sitting in my grandmother’s swivel chair, spinning as fast as I could, kicking off the piano and the living room wall for added speed. He nicely asked me to stop. I didn’t. He repeated, a little more firmly, that I needed to stop. I was in an obnoxious and silly mood, so again, I disobeyed.

Finally, he raised his voice and commanded me to stop. He did not yell. He did not shout. He did not launch into a tirade. He did not even stand up from his recliner. Just a quick, sharp, single worded reprimand to jar me out of my obnoxiousness.

I stopped immediately. My silliness instantly evaporated. It was the first and only time I ever heard frustration or disappointment in my grandpa’s voice, so it was shocking. I felt terrible. Guilt overwhelmed me. I had upset my grandpa. I felt like absolute scum.

Fortunately, my grandpa was also an expert in showing forth an increase in love (for me, grandpa’s love language was jelly beans). That love dried my hysterical child sobs in pretty short order. But still, I resolved in that moment never to make my grandpa upset again.

So, I guess I can relate to those people in the prison who heard the “still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper” that pierces the soul and shakes the earth. It’s the voice of my soft-spoken grandfather. It’s the voice of our soft-spoken Savior. It’s the voice of any soft-spoken servant of God, raising His voice in warning and correction of those he loves.

Something I need to work on indeed.

This post first appeared on Power in the Book