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Monday, October 7, 2013

09. Practicing Visualizing the Savior

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the ninth examining the phrase "calleth on my name".

OK, we've done enough talking about visualizing the Savior.  It's time to turn theoretical doctrine into Applied Christianity.

Below are two ways I know of which should help you better visualize the Savior.  If you have another suggestion, click the "Comments" link below and share.  You never know when your knowledge may help someone else...

Practice Exercise #1

  1. Below is an image taken from a (fictional) video of the Savior appearing to an individual.
  2. I invite you to look at it. Ponder it.  Study it.  Know it.
  3. Now close your eyes.  Visualize the picture you just stared at in your mind.
  4. Now imagine Christ moving his hand, his arm, his mouth.
  5. Imagine his face and mouth changing to a smile.
  6. Imagine him addressing you by name.



Practice Exercise #2

  1. Go here to view the 3 Nephi chapter 11 webpage.
  2. On the right-hand side of the page, click "Download".
  3. Right (not left) mouse click on "MP3", and save the link (the mp3) to your computer.
  4. Transfer the mp3 onto your mp3 player, or just listen to it on your computer.
  5. Pick a quiet, calm time to visualize. Although the circumstances of your visualizing might be different from another's, I do recommend finding a peaceful time and place where there are no distractions and no pressing appointments. "Peace" is a prime prerequisite of the Spirit.
  6. Pray expecting God will grant you a heightened awareness of what you are about to hear, and thank Him for the opportunity.
  7. Hit the play button and listen to verses 1-10.
  8. As the narration goes, place yourself in the environment being described.  Imagine the surroundings.  If possible, feel the temperature of the air and hear the ambient sounds. See what is being described, and visualize the Savior as he appears.
No matter which practice exercise you try (or perhaps both of them!), please click the "Comment" link below (even anonymously) and let me know how it goes.

Why?

"I Can Only Imagine"...



7 comments:

  1. I am so happy I found this blog! I am excited that other Latter Day Saints are using visualizing techniques and meditation to increase their faith. I was beginning to feel like an outsider, or feeling like I had to keep my hand down in class because no one would understand what I am talking about (would sound like some new age hippy to everyone I am sure). Phew! Thank you so much! I will be practicing the new tips you are leaving on your blog.

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  2. That song is one of my all-time favorites. Along with the Victor's Crown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3dV1MrJoKc

    For me, music has always been the most powerful tool to bring me into the presence of the Lord. Or, more accurately, to call down the presence of God from heaven into the earth. To increase His influence and power here, through my willingness to submit to Him. For most of my life, that meant hymns and Primary songs. Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Handel. More recently, as I've been learning more about ancient worship and how utterly unrestrained it was, I've really come to treasure contemporary Christian music, like I Can Only Imagine, and The Victor's Crown. I've let go of our self-conscious Western disdain for repetition, and for praising God while collected and perfectly still. And in letting go of all of those types of cultural conventions, a freedom comes in the Holy Ghost. Incredible freedom to open my heart to my God, and to let Him in. To tap into the deep, powerful devotion I carry, and to express it to Him in some slightly less minuscule way. I say "less minuscule" because, during my most powerful moments of worship, my body fails me. My voice breaks and my long-trained vocal control disappears. I can only whisper, hands reaching for Heaven, laughing and crying all at once with the joy of His absolute victory, and the overwhelming grace He offers every. one.

    So far, it is in those moments, when heaven's pouring down around me, that Christ most often visits me. I see Him as though through a glass, darkly . . . black and white, the mental images quieted even while I can see every detail; but even then I can only just bear the tiny bit of glory He lets me see. And so I continue on, living His will for me as best as I understand it . . . not out of a sense of duty or dedication, but because I can't restrain the answering love that rises up to meet the boundless love He has already given. I'm still dilligent, still devoted. But I no longer move in my own strength--the only strength I claim is what it takes to submit to Him. And He fills me for His will, His way, the life He has created spiritually for me, which lacks only my mortal action to bring it to fruition here.

    For those who, like myself, have lived their spiritual lives in iron-clad LDS stoic-inspired discipline, music can be a powerful way to unlock those conscious strongholds and make worship, and our nearly-lost practice of praising God in the highest, a living, vital part of our relationship with the One we call Savior, and Friend.

    We are so calm, so matter-of-fact about Jesus Christ. Even during the most powerful and emotional of testimonies we hear from the pulpit, they are what most religions would still call dignified. Self-possessed, even in tears. There are acceptable parameters for the expression of our devotion, set down by the traditions of our fathers, that volume or excitement is somehow discourteous and irreverent. We cheer and shout at the tops of our lungs when our favorite baseball player hits a triple RBI, and come to our feet jumping, shouting, fists pumping in the air, when the team pulls off a magnificent win. And we SHOULD be that excited for the achievement of others (especially when we're devoted to them, lol). But how much MORE should we be just as pumped for the victory of Christ? It means so. much. more. to us . . . the chance not only at a trophy, the praise of our fans and the world for a feat of our own strength, but for eternal glory and happiness and peace and the company of the Father and the Son, given despite all we could ever do.

    Reclaim worship. Reclaim praise. Reclaim overflowing, abounding, soul-changing joy. Your life will never be the same. :o)

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  3. I don't want to be negative, so sorry for this because I know the intent was correct in your visualization techniques; but I think of the commandment that says that we should not make any graven image of God and then I see that picture of someone who is not the Savior and I don't want that guy appearing to me. :) But seriously, I just wonder what He really looks like and I want to visualize that. I recently took down several pictures of Him that I had because of this same concept. I have heard some people say that some of the pictures of Jesus are closer to what Satan looks like and so, I wonder if keeping his appearance mysterious to us and relying on the Power of the Holy Ghost to testify to us that it is Him might be a better approach; so that when we do see Him we will Feel that it is Him. That is the way I like to "look" at it. I can really "visualize" the feeling of His presence because He has an absolutely Amazing presence, I have felt that. I testify of That. Seeing Him would make it all the better, but I have Felt Him there before and it is Amazing! Thanks for sharing and I hope I did not distract too much.

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  4. While I respect the last commenter's opinion, I would be remiss if I didn't offer a different viewpoint. There are some people, like me, who struggle visualizing the Savior in the way the blogger described. The image of the Savior helped me better grasp the task at hand. I don't think the picture is a graven image. It never enticed me to bow down before it or serve it (as we're commanded not to do in Deuteronomy). Quite the contrary, it helped me better worship God. We live in a horrible, terrible world, and feel sad that one would take down pictures which remind us to worship, to always keep in remembrance of, the Savior. I don't know about you, but I need more -- not less -- reminders! What of the father who lost his son to SIDS, and sees a picture of Christ playing with and smiling at a baby, tears up a bit and thinks, "Yeah, my son is OK. He's in Jesus' hands"? What of the single mother who struggles to feed herself and her toddler, and sees the picture of Christ gently hugging a woman, and she thinks, "Yeah, I know he'll comfort and protect me"? True, probably neither of these pictures accurately depict the Savior. But they do stir in us some powerful emotions which bring us closer to him, have faith in him, trust him, be comforted by him. So, I think we need to be very, very careful wholesale condemning things which bring forth good fruit -- especially if those things are catalysts for us having greater faith in, and help us to bow down before, the one true God.

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  5. That'd be sad if the temples started taking down all the pictures of the Savior. I agree with the last comment -- seeing the paintings of the Savior helps me focus on him even more when I'm there. If they're good enough for the temples, then why not in our own homes, or a blog post?

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  6. I think this is a matter of progression--of a spectrum of where we're at, and what our minds dwell on.

    "One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple." ~Psalm 27:4

    "A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name." ~ Psalm 63

    How many of us feel that way about our God? Have we meditated on the true nature of His love? Infinite, eternal, intimate, joyful, complete, from the intense and deep and completely self-sacrificing love of a mother holding her newborn to her chest to the comfortable familiarity of doing the dishes after dinner, to the deep and powerful commitment of the love between husband and wife who have been through hell and back, and kept their covenant.

    We ARE the temples of the Most High. We should be walking with Him, in a constant quest to know Him better, to be more often in His presence, to behold His face as often as we can. We were MADE for that--created so we could dwell with Him in the heavens, if we will but let ourselves love Him completely and follow our hearts back to Him.

    If you have once felt the presence of Jesus Christ, seek it again. And again, and again! Don't sit back and think, "Wow, that was sure special! I'm so glad it happened once in my life." and go back to business as usual. He is waiting for us to seek Him more earnestly . . . waiting to give to us what we seek pressed down, shaken together and STILL running over. When you really and truly turn to Him, He will come and find you in your wilderness, and stay with you as long as you will let Him. That's the power of His grace, and the love of His mercy that will cover you. And once that happens, as you begin to follow Him out of the wild and forlorn place you have inhabited, His hand will be EVERYWHERE in your life. He will teach you by all the things around you, in every avenue you take the time to notice. And, once you have felt His presence in power, you will easily recognize the significance of the things in your life that He uses to tutor and guide you . . . because there is no counterfeit for that feeling, that presence that defies all description, because while it might communicate meaning with words, it brings so much more meaning than that. So much more. That feeling communicates and impresses godliness into your very soul, and you are changed, one small moment of monolithic importance at a time.

    Images of the Savior can be beautiful teaching tools. My best friend in college was literally saved by a painting of the savior holding a returned prodigal in His arms. But they are the beginning . . . the spark . . . that starts a fire in our hearts to find Jesus ourselves, and trust me. He will be found. :)

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  7. I personally love the work of the artist Simon Dewey. My favorite work of his is entitled "He Lives" It depicts Christ exiting the Garden Tomb early in the morning immediately after being resurrected. Christ, according to President David O. McKay, had chestnut colored hair and hazel colored eyes as the mortal Messiah. This work of art captures that moment for me. Once the Savior descend up into heaven and became the glorified Savior and Redeemer, He took upon Himself the exalted express image of Our Father in Heaven. His hair became as bright white as the heavenly glorious white robe that he wears. His eyes became deep blue and sparkle as with a powerful flame. "His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun;" ( D&C 110:3) The only way to tell the difference between Jesus now and Our Heavenly Father is for the Holy Spirit to tell you which member of the Godhead is standing before you. I bear you my testimony these things are true. Visualizing the Savior coming to visit us is vitally important to the process. This is what is know as "seeing with an eye of faith". Faith when fully tested will become pure knowledge. Thank you for this post. Ken H

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