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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Testimony about Meditation, Part 3

At the conclusion of my last post, I invited you to discover your own "Sacred Grove" where you can meditate, commune with -- and perhaps someday, even have an audience with -- the Lord.  I also provided a pretty good quote by President Marion G. Romney, who counseled:
"Learning the gospel from the written word...is not enough.  It must also be lived.  One cannot fully learn the gospel without living it" (Ensign, Sept. 1980, p. 4; emphasis mine). 
Below is a first-hand account by one of this blog's readers about their experiences with creating their own "Sacred Grove".  This is yet another testimony regarding the spiritual power that comes from recognizing the scripturally-based patterns of pondering and meditation, and making them come alive in your life...

A public thanks to the author of this post; it's very inspirational and testified (to me) the truthfulness of some of the concepts we've been discussing. 




The first thing I want to say is how much I have enjoyed and appreciated these recent posts on pondering. I also want to say that one of my very favorite movies about this (and in general) is Sergeant York. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. It's a great movie in general, that most people would enjoy anyway, but it depicts Alvin York's experience akin to JS, Enos, Nephi and many others, as well as the fruits of the experience.

And, I guess I'll stick my neck out and share a chain of evolving experiences I have had:

I'm going to start out by making reference to the great series of posts on his Perfect Day Blog about prayer, including Three Knocks a Day on the Door of Heaven, about the importance of specifically praying at least three times day. After reading that post, I took this advice to heart, and had a life direction-changing experience that I recorded in my journal, and would like to share. But first a little background.

Following a pretty substantial wander in the wilderness for about the last 10 years, for the past couple years, I have been on a more earnest and evolving spiritual quest, that has undoubtedly been enhanced by the way the Lord has "blessed" me with much more serious obstacles and challenges, that have certainly helped to humble me, and encouraged me to be much more earnest in my relationship with the Lord. Although I have had a variety of experiences in my spiritual journey over this period of time, during which (especially the last two years) I have engaged in much fasting and earnest prayer, as well as genuinely searching the scriptures, and especially the BOM, I finally feel like I'm really starting to turn the corner, and have some significant break-throughs with prayer, which have resulted in some more substantial recent experiences. As a result of these efforts, although not necessarily ever as part of a specific prayer experience, for some time now, I have been feeling the eyes of my understanding continually and gradually being opened regarding a number of things, and particularly spiritual matters. Based on the increasing earnestness of my quest, and desire to receive greater understanding and direction in a number of different areas of my life, I have started trying to follow the example set by prophets of old, and have developed a pattern of often going to "my mountain" to seek solitude, cry unto the Lord, and pour my heart out to my Maker in prayer.


As part of this pattern, there have been times, during the last year, when I have literally climbed to the top of very remote mountains, out in the middle of the desert wilderness, including high volcanic cinder cones that rise like islands in the sky from the desert floor, and at the very summit spent many hours pondering and praying, attempting to have an Enos-like experience. But although those were all interesting experiences, for the most part they also seemed to have been fairly one-sided conversations/experiences, that always seemed to fall short in terms of what I was trying to accomplish.  Because going to that length takes much more time and effort that I am capable of on a regular basis, the spot I normally go to on a much more regular basis, and refer to as "my mountain," is a secluded place on our ranch, up on a hill, surrounded by cedar trees, in many ways like the Sacred Grove. And for me, it has become a sacred place where I often go to ponder and pray. Consequently, when I pray in that place, although I often engage in deep contemplation, pondering and some form of meditation as part of what I do, when I call upon God in prayer, I don't bow my head, close my eyes, or engage in silent prayer as we are taught in Church. I raise my eyes, and my hands, and my voice to the Heavens, and call/cry out to my God -- the God of Adam, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God of Joseph Smith, and many other prophets who have prayed the same way, throughout the ages.

During just the last few months, I have had a series of specific experiences where I was feeling particularly low as I went to the Lord. Without going into too many details, in one case my heart was very heavy because a substantial temporal direction that I had been actively pursuing for quite some time, and had committed a lot of time and resources to, and had previously seemed to be falling into place, suddenly turned into a dead end. At that point, I was feeling very disappointed and didn't know what to do. So I went to my mountain to pray, and in lengthy prayer, among other things, specifically pleaded to know my status before my Maker, and what I needed to do. Although no clear feeling or sense of concrete direction came to me, a very distinct feeling of peace and comfort came over me, letting me simply know at least that God was listening, and my prayers were being heard, and I found great comfort in that.

On another subsequent occasion, because of the previous direction that hadn’t turned out, I had pursued and applied for a good job that I really thought would be a good fit. I earnestly prayed that I would be able to secure the job and know what I needed to do for that to happen. Moreover, feeling even greater boldness and/or desperation at that point, although it may seem strange, I included in my prayers a specific plea that ministering angels would intervene, if necessary, to help me get the job. At first everything seemed to be on track. I had my first interview, and I felt very good about it. But then time passed, and I started worrying that I wasn't going to get a second one. One afternoon, I was gripped with fear about this possibility. With a very heavy heart, I again went to my mountain to pray. As I found solitude and poured my heart out to God, I again prayed for help, including the intervention of ministering angels, if necessary, to help me get the job. I then had some very distinct and discernible impressions. The first impression was that I would not get the job, which made my heart even heavier. Then I got the very distinct impression that ministering angels had in fact intervened -- but so that I wouldn't get the job, which was even harder to swallow. But then, a very distinct feeling of peace and comfort again came over me. In addition to this feeling of comfort that I felt, though, I also had a very distinct impression that essentially spoke: "Patience, my son. You cannot force these things. You do not yet have enough faith to compel My hand. So be patient." Although it wasn't what I wanted to hear/feel, it did again let me know that God was there, listening; He is in charge, I am in good hands, and everything will be alright. It was a very comforting experience -- especially under the circumstances. When I returned home from praying, there was an e-mail in my inbox letting me know that the job had been offered to someone else.

Finally, following that experience, and not knowing what to do, or which direction to go next, I felt particularly desperate to know the Lord's will and what He would have me do moving forward to, among other things, make some changes to better support and provide for my family and prepare for the future, etc., and I just couldn't figure out what I needed to do to be able to get more concrete direction. I was finally getting the most earnest I had ever been about pondering and praying first and foremost about what to pray for; attempting to align my prayers and my will with the Lord's will by praying for those things that He would have me pray for; seeking desperately to engage in mighty prayer, and to speak with the tongue of angels, having what I should being praying for given to me. It was also about that time that I read this post about making a special effort to pray three times a day. Although I have always been diligent about early morning prayers and devotion, and often try to go throughout the day with a prayer in my heart, etc., making a specific point of praying three times a day had never really been something that I was particular adamant about. So, I immediately committed to myself to do that. I also decided to undertake a three day fast that I would conclude with a day at the temple on the fourth day, after ending my fast that morning. But even before making it to the temple, I finally had my answers, and my direction.

On the afternoon of the third day, I again went to my mountain. I arrived at my spot in time for my midday prayer, and continued to ponder, pray and listen/ponder and pray all afternoon. By the time I finished, I received distinct impressions/whisperings with some of the clearest direction I have ever experienced in what in what I feel are particularly critical temporal issues to me and my family. I came away with more direction and clarity that I had felt in a very long time. Interestingly, some of the most significant parts of these impressions were going essentially the opposite direction than I had previously been pursuing, and leading my family. I experienced a serious paradigm shift in terms of trying to understand and do the Lord's will -- what I now call "The Great Re-direction." It was a very interesting experience. I still spent the next day in the temple, mostly with a deep sense of gratitude (plus, it was the week before Thanksgiving, so gratitude was on my mind). Although my time at the temple was a good experience, I didn’t receive any new impressions – only an additional sense of comfort and security in the direction that I had already received.

Kudos to LDS Perfect Day for helping to point me in the right direction(s).

3 comments:

  1. Beautiful. Thank you for posting that.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you for sharing this witness.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank your for sharing this witness.

    ReplyDelete