A moment of sudden revelation or insight.
The word is so fitting of an experience I had this week.
They don't happen often, but on the occasions,
I try cherish, build, and record them.
Sunset on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. July 1998
It started with a book, well 2 books...
I'll start with the second book. Here We Stand by Joseph Fielding McConkie was given to us a year ago. The book sat in our pile of "to read" books until I picked it up on Monday. As I read, I gained a personal insight for which I am truly grateful.
The background first, and then maybe you will can understand my epiphany.
Now for the first book, The Book of Mormon. I was born a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. One of the first books I read, as my mind exploded into the amazing world of the written word, was The Book of Mormon.
At the age of 10 years old I finished reading The Book of Mormon. All 531 pages. I've never doubted. But, I also knew I didn't want to just know because my parents knew. So prayed to Heavenly Father, acting on the words of Moroni, at the end of the book,
"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."
In knew in my mind and in my heart. It wasn't the last time the Holy Ghost would witness to me. Usually, it is a warm feeling of peace. Other times the sacredness and power overwhelm me.
The Plan of Salvation
What do I know? I know I am a literal child of God. He is the Father of my spirit. Jesus Christ is his son, in the spirit and flesh. Both have resurrected bodies, spirits united with a body. I lived with them before I came to earth. I will live with my family and God again. I need to be baptized into his church, follow all his commandments, and continue to be faithful.
The Atonement in the Garden
During His atonement in the Garden of Gesthsemane, Christ suffered the pains, sicknesses, and sins of each of us. Because of His suffering and perfect life, He is the only one, who has earned the right to satisfy the demands of justice. I must live my life each day serving him, following his example so that after all that I can do, He will be my advocate at the judgement seat of God.
An olive tree in the Garden of Gesthsemane. Olive trees are one on the longest living plants. In fact, the roots of this very tree may have been where Jesus lay in agony, sweating as it were great drops of blood in his infinite atonement for you and I. Often in the quiet moments of the sacrament I close my eyes and bring myself back to this garden, and the Savior prostrate on the ground.
Death on the Cross and the Promise of Resurrection
The garden alone was not enough. Christ also had to give his life on the cross. He descended below all and was resurrected three days later. Here is the hope and glory for all of us. That we too will be resurrected some day. Our spirits will reunite with our bodies, just as Christ. We will come to judgement as resurrected persons. As God is.
Sitting in this very tomb was sacred and surreal. But the most powerful message, is one you don't see in this photo, engraven on the inside of the door. It reads, "He is not here, for He is risen!" Stronger than the feeling of the cold, tangible stone on my skin, was the warm,
palpable knowledge in my heart that He does live.
This knowledge grows and strengthens. But has always provided me clarity of purpose and direction. There have been times I struggled. Things I didn't understand. In college, as my personal religious and scientific studies deepened and intensified, questions arose. But the foundation of my testimony was solid. I never needed to look anywhere else for truth. I knew the Holy Ghost would help me understand.
Usually the problem was timing, or lack of understanding of scripture or modern revelation, or the need for more personal humility. But the answers come and clear any doubt in my mind. Anything that linger I just continue to search the words of the prophets and the scriptures. When I have prepared myself sufficiently for the Lord I'll receive what I need.
Now, to the second book. The epiphany came this week as I was reading it. A book about how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is different than other Christian churches. It was like a light went off in my head.
I had no idea how lucky I was.
I didn't realize the Bible makes absolute sense to me only because I bring to it the light of revelation received from the Book of Mormon and modern prophets. The background knowledge I wrote of above. If the 14 year old Joseph Smith had not had the faith to act upon the words found in the James 1:5;
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all me liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."
if he had not believed the heavens were still open and a loving God had not stopped speaking to his children on earth, I would have none of the peace, joy and clarity that sustain and uplift me everyday. The whole earth, including I, would still be wandering in darkness. But the heavens are open!
This isn't my photo. I haven't visited that sacred grove in New York since I was a little girl. But it isn't difficult to remember the feelings I had as I walked that ground. I remember holding my Dad's hand, and feeling the spirit testify to my heart again of Joseph.
Joseph asked God. And God answered. He answered by appearing in person, with his son Jesus Christ. He answered Joseph, by directing him to the sacred record of the Book of Mormon. Another testament of Christ. A record written for us. A record unfettered by thousands of years of men extruding and corrupting and reorganizing the truth. He answered Joseph by revealing the fulness of his church upon the earth once again.
Joseph was as Moses. He brought the law and the fulness. Moses asked his people to accept the revelation from God, the fulness he brought. As did Joseph. Joseph even acts as Christ did. Christ came and required the people to reject the Law of Moses, to no longer look only to the scripture and tradition, but to accept Him. To eat of the bread of life and partake of the living waters.
Most times I walk on a rocky shore, it brings me back to Galilee.
I envision the Savior walking on these same stones, feeling the same earth beneath his feet as I did.
The people had a choice, hold to the traditions of their fathers, or accept Christ and the fulness of the Gospel he brought. When his apostles died, the fulness of the gospel was gone. The Christian world has been searching ever since.
But my testimony of the Bible is as strong as my testimony of the Book of Mormon. The reason I know the Bible is true is because of the Book of Mormon. In fact it is one of the great purposes of the book is to convince the world the Bible is true.
I can use the words of living prophets to help me understand the sacred truths within it. If we really understand the Bible we know God speaks to his people and reveals his gospel through his living prophets.
A living prophet is on the earth today. His name is Thomas S. Monson, and he stands as witness of God, like the prophets of old. He is God's mouthpiece on earth.
Several years ago, before he was prophet, I had the opportunity to shake this mans hand. It was a crowded wedding reception, and so many people recognized him. He didn't have to take the time, but he did. He moved down the line and shook hands, looked in my eyes and smiled.
I hear and read his words. It isn't hard to know.
This week I discovered a lens. A lens I have used my entire life to recognize truth and detail. A lens others whom have not had the privilege of hearing and praying to the know the truth of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ do not have. A lens which has been the abundant source of all light and joy in my life. There is nothing I would not sacrifice to keep it with me.
Experiment Upon His Words
To anyone who has not tried this lens, whether unknown, set aside or forgotten, pick it up! Read in humility. Pray in faith. And, in the words of the Book of Mormon prophet Alma "experiment upon the [living] words" of Jesus Christ as found in the Book of Mormon and his living prophets.
I want everyone to have the clarity I have experienced without interruption from birth. This is why this particular Sunday insight is so important to me.