Ephesians 1:17,18 reads, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened…”
It is my recent experience of this marvelous gift of understanding and enlightenment I wish to share.
Before I begin, let me reference two scriptural promises that both reference and confirm that which Paul desired for the saints in Ephesus above.
First, from the Doctrine & Covenants 42:61 which reads, “If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.”
Secondly, from the Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi 18:20, “And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.”
With this as my foundation let me share what was one of the most tender, powerful and critically important “in-that-moment” experiences in personal revelation I’ve ever had.
In order for the value of my experience to be appreciated, its important to understand the context of my life at this time. If you’ve read my personal posts in my blog you’ll recognize that I am in the midst of a deep journey of repentance. Years ago I strayed from the gospel and those eternal doctrines and principles I knew to be true. I became caught up in that flawed but powerful aphrodisiac of selfish rationalization and thinking which caused me to no longer recognize error, but rather to focus on what I was certain I not only wanted, but needed in order to find real happiness and peace. It was a twisted frame of mind accompanied by the requisites of a hardened heart and blinded eyes.
I finally reached a point of circumstances where I had sufficiently run my life into the ground that I had to make a choice. This was approximately 16 months ago, in Oct of 2012. By April of 2013 I had determined to begin my formal process of repentance with my church and my Heavenly Father and Savior. I was subsequently excommunicated in May of 2013 as part of this early process. (Let me state here that such was not a punishment, so much as it was necessary to protect the name of the Lord’s church, which I had dishonored and will prove to be a blessing to me in a very deep and personal way – in time.)
The reason for that brief contextual history is that the tender experience of personal revelation I just had, touched on three distinct elements which were troubling my heart. One of which relates directly to my current process of repentance.
Fast forwarding a bit, over the course of the the past 9 months since my excommunication (and actually it began months prior to that event) I had adopted a daily routine of making time to study my scriptures (not just read them) and to take un-rushed time in meaningful prayer. I have been diligent in this routine at least 6 days a week. It has become something I not only value for its blessings, but look forward to as a part of who I am. This “routine,” as you will see, has proven to be a key to my experience in personal revelation.
One of the effects of my daily devotion of time to real scripture study and prayer, has been to elevate my thoughts and desires. It has wrought a very real change in who I am, things I think about and desires I have. This change, by its very nature, results in my being more obedient and more pure in my nature and thus more sensitive to the spirit and it’s promptings.
During my time of study of the book the Infinite Atonement, The Miracle of Forgiveness, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants and the New Testament – especially the New Testament, also being the most recent of the list, I had/have become increasingly interested in the relationship between Jesus Christ and His Father – our Heavenly Father. I found myself with seemingly unceasing thoughts throughout many days of the nature, dynamics, love and interaction of their relationship.
On February 1, 2104 I woke to a very interesting thought – recollection – or sleep experience. I share this as one of the most sacred, deeply personal and meaningful experiences of my life. When my eyes opened that morning, the first conscious thought I had, immediately, was the realization that seemingly throughout my nights sleep, I had heard, repeated over and over, as if being spoken “to me” these words…they were spoken slowly, with intent – “I am Jesus Christ, whom the Father sent, to redeem the world.” I am not proclaiming that the Savior was speaking to me. I am not insinuating that any angel or being was speaking to me; I saw no lights, no visions of any kind. But I am testifying that those words were repeated to me over and over throughout the night. I had obviously read that statement in my studies, and clearly the Holy Ghost was giving me that recollection…for what purpose I knew not.
What stood out to me throughout that day, was the emphasis of the words “whom the Father sent.” Again, I could not begin to speculate as to why I had that experience, nor its meaning.
Over the course of the subsequent two weeks, each day I recalled those words from that night. I continued my daily study, and reached the point of focus of the Lord’s life culminating in His final day, His experience in Gethsemane, His trial, crucifixion and His triumphant resurrection and tender visitations to His chosen Apostles and many faithful disciples and followers. Then while studying the events of that first easter morning at the tomb, I read these words from John 20:17, “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” I found myself somewhat mesmerized and re-read over and over the words “unto my Father, and your Father.” While doing so I felt as though I were caught back in that moment in time, as though I were hearing them spoken TO ME. After a few minutes in this place, I paused, and I was immediately reminded again of the words from two weeks prior during my nights sleep.
As I had previously done two weeks prior, I dropped to my knees to express my thankfulness for the experience and the witness being given to me from the Holy Ghost of the veracity of that relationship. I also expressed that along with my deep appreciation, I did not understand the purpose of such a witness. I had never doubted the relationship of the Father and the Son, it had merely taken center stage in my mind and heart – the nature of it.
Less than 48hrs after having recognized this second witness, I happened to engage in a conversation with a family member of whom I had expectations of love and concern. Meaning, of this individual I had supposed it my right to expect a certain level of genuine caring – even if inconvenient. That what I expressed as important to me, should, by right of relationship, be important to them. (I will not reveal either the identity of the individual, nor the subject matter – so as to protect them, for I love them and this is not about anything they did wrong, but rather my perception of the moment – which was in and of itself, flawed). The result of the conversation felt devastating to my spirit. I felt cheated. I felt in some ways, abandoned, not worth the effort or inconvenience or as though I didn’t “belong.” The adversary seemed to jump all over this crack in my armor.
The result of living my life as I have over the past year is that most, if not all doors open to the adversary in which to truly afflict me with temptation have been not only closed, but locked – and as I’ve heard said, Satan seems to have no keys to open locked doors. So the despair I found from this conversation represented the ideal place for Him to work to destroy my peace. And destroy my peace over the next 24hrs he did.
In order to truly understand the value of what was to come next, one must understand that I am working to put my life back in order, and that beyond just my anticipated re-baptism, I am on the precipice of a significant vocational accomplishment. This means, that the most pressing things on my mind in general are my worthiness and the impending process to gain re-baptism, as well as my work efforts…and now as a result of the troubling conversation, I had this new-found despair about life in general and the relationships around me.
Over the course of that night, I began to find an emotional abyss which seem to overcome me through the night. I wondered to myself, “If I cannot expect that level of caring from this person, do I have any right to truly expect the type of life I’m fighting so hard for in the near future? Can I truly expect real joy in my life if this is the case? Maybe I’m just kidding myself. Maybe I’m one of those souls who seemingly is not “meant” to be truly happy.”
You can imagine the path such thoughts dragged me down. On that Sunday morning, I could not find a reason to get out of bed. Unlike times in my past however, I was not angry with God, but deeply saddened by these thoughts and the pity party I was throwing for myself. Though I was my own culprit, the reality was the weight of the abyss robbed from me every bit of desire to get up, push through or more accurately, it robbed me of all hope for my future and seemed to reduce all my hopes to ashes. At approximately 11a, when I could no longer escape through sleep, I managed a very short, silent but pleading prayer that Heavenly Father rescue me from this darkness. To give me the strength to at least get up, get showered and ready and get to my church meetings at 1p.
Moments later, I managed to get up to go shower. That thought I couldn’t fathom during the prior 4 hours, so this in and of itself was a bit of a miracle. Then it happened. One of the most tender, sweet, exquisite moments of my life in relation to Him, my Father.
I have read that one of the most important things a person can do is qualify for, learn to recognize, and then to apply personal revelation in their life. I believe from this experience, as well as others over the past year, I am beginning to understand how the Spirit of revelation speaks to me. It’s individualized, and likely based on our individual ability to recognize one method more than another. To me it seems clear. Through my consistent study of scriptures and of living prophets and apostles, I create a reservoir of resource available for the Spirit to recall to my mind. His way of communicating to me in a meaningful, quiet way that I can recognize. It also requires that I continue to study, and that I keep myself worthy in thought and deed of such communications.
While showering this thought was brought to my mind; “Imagine how the Savior experienced these same feelings of disappointment as those around Him, whom He loved so dearly, and from whom He had every right to expect their understanding came up short.” Whether that was Peter who “denied Him thrice,” or Judas who betrayed Him, or his 11 chosen and anointed Apostles who failed to truly understand His preaching and the veracity of His death and resurrection, or finding Peter, James and John (His ordained first presidency) asleep – not once, but twice, when He’d asked them, in regards to the most transcendent event of His life, of their lives, of all eternity, to watch and pray. I was reminded that in many cases, He must have felt and knew what I was feeling.
At the very moment when I recognized this point, the Spirit seemed to instantaneously recall to my mind those two sweet and tender witnesses of the prior two weeks which I adored, but could not perceive or understand. (“I am Jesus Christ, whom the Father sent…”, and “unto my Father, and your Father.”) This instant recollection of those moments came with this distinct message, “He is your Father too, and He cares enough to participate in every aspect of your life and what is important to you.” I don’t even know how to describe the lifting affect this had on my spirit. It brought profuse tears to my eyes. I recognized in that moment, that the message I received was born out by the fact that as a result of my efforts, in the past two weeks my Heavenly Father, knowing this moment of darkness would overtake me, had prepared not only a way for my escape, but had prepared me to receive it. He had blessed me with two tender, yet powerful witnesses from which I’d be able to draw from this morning to rescue me from a crippling despair.
However, He was not finished. Before my shower was concluded, blessing number two was given to me in much the same fashion. As I have been want to contemplate my application for re-baptism, I understand full well that the Holy Ghost will need to witness to my Stake President of my worthiness…that is to say, I seemed to understand it intellectually, but I simultaneously seemed to be troubled in my heart and spirit by the possibility of them not truly understanding the depth of change that has occurred within my heart. To this end, as if to confirm the scripture in John 14:27, “…Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” For in that moment these words were spoken to my mind, “…and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” I KNEW, without question, that this was in reference to my Heavenly Father knowing my heart, and that His open reward to me would be my baptism – in the open. This seemed to be the Lord putting His loving arm around me, and comforting me as if to say, “I know what is troubling your heart. Let me tell you three things which will speak peace to your soul.”
You can imagine the peace, love, thankfulness, humility, and adoration I felt to be noticed by, cared for from, and gently and tenderly comforted in such a personal way by Him I call my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. While in this place of peace and true joy, and in complete contradiction to the feelings of despair under which Satan had attempted to bury my faith, hope and peace, as I got dressed for church and contemplated what I had just experienced, and as I let my mind return to the possibilities of my impending new life and future, to be largely impacted by my vocational efforts, there remained one last tender and very personal inspiration as a gift from He who knows how to give the very best gifts. These words came out of know where, in direct reference to things yet pending in my life, and upon which I await the Lord and His timing…“Your Father is preparing every needful thing.” It was the final of the three areas that were troubling my heart and had been robbing me of my peace over the past few weeks.
I bear witness that in His majesty and grace and perfect love for me (and you) as His sons and daughters, He is completely aware, sensitive to and desirous to participate in every aspect of our lives – if we will allow Him. I bear witness that He knew perfectly not only how to comfort me, to succor me, but also how to do so in such a way as to train me, teach me, and lift me in matters of eternity, dealings of His Spirit, personal revelation, the value of consistency in my studies and prayers and finally that my joy and real happiness, do, in fact, matter to Him. I matter to Him. He will not forsake me. He will not leave my side, so long as I worthily seek Him to be there beside me, by drawing myself unto Him. He will never stop refining me, which means moments of disappointment, trial, struggle, and strife, but that He will prepare me for those moments, as He did these past few weeks, and if I stay the course, from those moments of learning and growth will come great joy, strength and confidence.
PS – I want to add a footnote regarding the conversation I had with a family member which was upsetting to me and was the precursor to my amazing experience – we have reconciled any feelings from that conversation. I have asked for forgiveness for my hurt feelings and poor attitude. I will state again, I love and cherish this person and am eternally thankful for their unconditional love and support throughout my life.