Are you a first-timer to LDS Perfect Day! If so, welcome!
Click here to see what this blog is all about and how you can get the most out of it.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Rend the Veil of Unbelief, Part 3: They Conversed with the Lord


The Direct Link to God


"The heart is the connecting point, the meeting place between any two persons. The kind of deep soul intimacy we crave with God and with others can be experienced only from the heart. I know a man who took his daughter to dinner; she was surprised, delighted. For years she had been hoping he would pursue her. When they had been seated, he pulled out his Day Timer and began to review the goals he had set for her that year. 'I wanted to burst into tears and run out of the restaurant,' she said. We don't want to be someone's project; we want to be the desire of their heart. Gerald May laments, 'By worshiping efficiency, the human race has achieved the highest level of efficiency in history, but how much have we grown in love?'We've done the same to our relationship with God. Christians have spent their whole lives mastering all sorts of principles, done their duty, carried on the programs of their church . . . and never known God intimately, heart to heart. The point is not an efficient life of activity—the point is intimacy with God. 'You will find me,' God says, 'when you seek me with all your heart' (Jer. 29:13). As Oswald Chambers said, 'So that is what faith is—God perceived by the heart.' What more can be said, what greater case could be made than this: to find God, you must look with all your heart. To remain present to God, you must remain present to your heart. To hear his voice, you must listen with your heart. To love him, you must love with all your heart. You cannot be the person God meant you to be, and you cannot live the life he meant you to live, unless you live from the heart." (John Eldredge, "Waking the Dead")

Many years ago, Moses wanted his people to meet God. Although God was all for the idea, the people weren't. They wanted Moses to be their intercessor, their mediator. Because that's what they wanted, that's what they got. They were subsequently condemned for it, leaving them with "the preparatory gospel" (the gospel of repentance and of baptism, and the remission of sins, and the law of carnal commandments) and only the Aaronic -- not the Melchizedek -- Priesthood (D&C 84:20-27).

Fast forward to a few hundred years A.D., and Christianity declares that Mary is humanity's intercessor with Jesus. For a thousand-plus more years, humanity approached God under those terms.

Then the dawn of a new age -- the Restoration -- began with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ personally appearing to a young, uneducated boy. All throughout Joseph's life, he begged and pleaded with the Saints not to go to him for answers, but straight to God. He held true to the cornerstone doctrine of the Restoration -- that God can and will speak with us, individually -- if we seek Him with all our hearts.
"But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; … He will not forsake thee.” (Deut. 4:30–31; also read this cool talk)
We know, in our curriculum, that God wants your intimate relationship with Him to be so close, that he likens it unto a marriage, a bride and bridegroom -- a wedding.
"The Lord wishes to establish a closer and more intimate relationship between Himself and us" (Pres. Lorenzo Snow, Deseret News: Semi-Weekly, Aug. 15, 1882, 1)
Yet, as John Eldredge aptly stated above, I believe many have become so oriented to programs and policies, activities and statistics, callings and meetings, that most have lost not only the will, but also the knowledge, of how to develop an intimate relationship with God. Church activity never has, and never will, be a legitimate indicator of closeness with God (you and I both know that a 100% active member can still abuse their spouse and/or children, be dishonest in their dealings with others and be totally oriented towards Babylon).

Luckily, that's not the case with everyone. There are still a few folks who've escaped the telestial gravity of these temporal considerations, and in the quiet and stillness of the night, have poured out their souls to God. They've discovered that, over time, as you turn your head away from the corruptness of the telestial, God turns His head towards you. Eventually, you realize all the little, everyday ways He says "I love you". He shares those moments with you as you watch a sunrise, as you gaze at the stars, as you observe children playing and birds soaring.

Even fewer do something incredible:

They exercise a tremendous amount of faith in seeking God. They climb a metaphorical mountain and escape all that's below. They turn off their TV, their car radio, their cellphone and internet -- anything and everything that's telestial -- so all they're left with is the terrestrial.

Then they invite Jesus into their homes, their offices, their daily commutes, their walks, their souls. It's as if anywhere and everywhere they go, they invite Him. Then they wait...

They wait for a word from Him.

They do this day in, and day out, demonstrating to God that above all the commotion and chaos of Babylon, that His voice -- His thoughts -- are what they seek.

Thousands of years ago, a man with the initials MM spiritually detached himself from the rest of the world. And in the process, he discovered how to unlock the combination lock to the veil.

The Veil's Combination Lock


As we read over and over again in my previous blog post, the scriptures consistently teach that there's a bridge between the spiritual world and the physical world.

That bridge -- your imagination, or visualization -- is a bridge that you can cross.

I believe that everything -- every invention ever created -- began in the imagination of someone. The telegraph, the electric light, the photograph, the telephone, the radio, the car, the airplane, rockets, nuclear power, computers, lasers, the internet -- all began with a thought. And I believe that in the vast majority of those cases, those thoughts were inspired by none other than God Himself.
"I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions." (Proverbs 8:12)
So it was thousands of years ago. We read in Ether 2:14 that Jared, his brethren (and their families) spent four years at the seashore called Moriancumer. At that time,
"the Lord came again unto the brother of Jared, and stood in a cloud and talked with him. And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord."
(We also learn in verse 13 that the Lord was in a cloud during these conversations, so the brother of Jared didn't see Him).

In verse 16, the Lord commanded the brother of Jared to build barges like ones they had previously built. So clearly, it wasn't their first time building barges. In verse 17, we're told what the barges looked like. In verses 18 and 19, the brother of Jared returns to the Lord with three supposed design flaws: no illumination, no navigation and no ventilation. In verse 20, the Lord provided a ventilation solution, which we see was resolved in verse 21.

Still, as we read in verses 22 and 23, both the brother of Jared and the Lord acknowledged the persistent lack of illumination and navigation -- the latter being addressed in verse 24.

OK, cool, but that lack of light. That was still unresolved, as the Lord acknowledged in verse 25.

The story continues in Ether Chapter 3 verse 1. There, we read how the brother of Jared went forth unto Mount Shelem, and moltened out of a rock sixteen small, white, clear/transparent stones. Then he carried them in his hands to the top of Mount Shelem, and (in verses 2-5) approached the Lord with an interesting request: that the Lord would touch the stones and illuminate them.

I stop the story here for an important consideration. It's what I personally call "the missing verse in the brother of Jared's story."

Huh wha? The missing verse?

Yep, and make no mistake -- that's simply my opinion, OK? I believe there's a verse in this story that's untold, which possibly should be. It lies in between Ether 2:25 and Ether 3:1 -- in between when the Lord asks "So, how are you going to resolve the illumination issue?" and the brother of Jared moltening 16 small stones.

One minute, there's a design challenge, and the next one, he's hiking up a mountain! Now do you see what I mean about a "missing verse"? (note that I'm not accusing or blaming Joseph Smith, Ether, Mormon or the brother of Jared for not mentioning this important point; it's just hypothetical in my book).

Where did the brother of Jared get that idea?

One possibility: there's a Jewish tradition -- older than the Talmud -- that Noah’s ark was lighted by glowing stones.
"Noah, it will be remembered, was according to the English Bible translation, commanded to make a “window” to the ark.  But it is pretty well agreed that the translation of the word rendered “window” is not good.  The word means literally a shining object, and rabbinical tradition has it that the shining object was really a stone which the Patriarch had found in the river Pison and which was made luminous. (Footnote* See Dr. Clark’s Commentary)  If this tradition is based on fact, the Brother of Jared must have known it, and that would account for his prayer and the miraculous answer that he obtained." (Footnote** Juvenile Instructor , Dec., 1926, p. 691; Janne M. Sjodahl, "An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon", Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1927, pp. 248-249; also see here)
Suffice it to say, that when the brother of Jared approached the Lord in Ether 3:2-5, it wasn't by happenstance or mere coincidence. Read those verses. In them, you'll see that the brother of Jared was confident, bold and believing. Nothing wavering. Nothing doubting.

I believe that the Holy Ghost inspired the brother of Jared. It was a deliberate, planned, calculated, intentional inspiration of the brother of Jared to climb that mountain, molten those stones (an average of two per barge) and present them to the Lord. As we read in Ether 2:23, there was no other way those barges could have been illuminated.

So, let's assume that the brother of Jared imagined, visualized, the Lord touching those 16 stones ahead of the actual, physical event. Was that faith? You better believe it! The brother of Jared hoped those rocks would be, could be illuminated ("the substance of things hoped for"; Hebrews 11:1), even though (quite likely) he'd never seen an illuminated rock himself ("the evidence of things not seen";  Hebrews 11:1) and was all the "substance" (Hebrews 11:1) the Lord needed to turn that spiritual creation into a physical creation.

It's also clear in Ether 3:2 that the brother of Jared also believed that God existed ("for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens") and that God's "a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).

We also know that the brother of Jared had imagined -- either before or while he was praying -- that the Lord would reveal His finger, touch and illuminate the stones -- all things which he had not seen, but were eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Finally, we know in the account of the brother of Jared that (at least after his three-hour visit with the Lord) his heart was firmly believing in, trusting in, and loving -- the Lord. He sought the Lord with all his heart...and truly found Him.

The brother of Jared, either knowingly or unknowingly, discovered and successfully turned the combination not only to faith, but exceeding faith. In Ether 3:6, we see the combination opening the vault of the heavens -- the veil -- to such a degree, that the brother of Jared saw far more than just the Lord's finger. He was shown what is commonly referred to as "The Vision of All" -- an event which was far and away beyond anything the brother of Jared -- Mahonri Moriancumer -- ever imagined:
"And when the Lord had said these words, he showed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth.
For he had said unto him in times before, that if he would believe in him that he could show unto him all things—it should be shown unto him; therefore the Lord could not withhold anything from him, for he knew that the Lord could show him all things." (Ether 3:25-26)
Study this section for a bit. Read and re-read -- even cross-reference -- the scriptural concepts regarding "exceeding faith" -- or, as I call it, "the Veil's Combination Lock".

Then let the Holy Ghost inspire you in implementing it in your life.

He Invited Jesus Into His Home


The next example isn't taken from the scriptures. It's somebody else's experience (not mine). That being the case, I recognize that there's no way to verify its authenticity. But I can tell you that the man I'm about to tell you about lived a life wholly dedicated to God to a very, very, high degree. I can also say, by personal experience, that there is much truth in the end result.

So, take the following account as unverified. Unsubstantiated. Hearsay. But it's indicative, it's synonymous, with experiences I've had, and others have had, whose lives have been significantly transformed by He who breathes life into all creation.

---------------------------------------

"Brother G" was a tremendously devout Christian all his life. In the mid- to late-1960s, during his prayer and meditation time, a thought popped into his head:

"Son, would you spend time with me as a friend? I don't have anyone who will just spend time with me as a friend. Everyone always comes with a petition, with intercession, with various requests, but they never just want to be with me for who I am."

Brother G was a very busy man. His days were full. He considered what the Lord had said, and didn't want to commit to something he couldn't fulfill. Finally, Brother G said, "Lord, the only time I have is from 2:00am to 3:30am, but I'll do it."

Brother G kept his word. So every night at 1:50am, he would arise from his bed and go to his sitting room, where he could spend some time with the Lord. In doing this, he would practice "properly framing a picture" of Jesus sitting across from him. He wasn't worried about the accuracy of his mental picture of Jesus, but instead, he would sit down and talk with Jesus like a good friend. "How's your day been, Jesus? What do you think about this or that?" He would also listen to what was on the Lord's heart that evening. He so enjoyed spending time with the Lord, as a friend, that he looked forward and anticipated each evening, when he could be alone with the Lord.

About a year later, as Brother G was sitting down in his chair at 2am, he heard the back door open and close. Then he heard footsteps walking down the hallway.

Into his sitting room walked Jesus, who then sat down in a chair across from Brother G.

How and why did this happen?

The Lord told Brother G that it was because he had been willing to spend that time with the Lord as a friend. It was also because Brother G practiced a very important principle:

What you focus on, you'll eventually connect with.


Again, like I said, I have no way of confirming this story is true. Brother G passed away several years ago, as did Sister G. There's no way to get a first-hand confirmation.

But to me….it makes sense.

My Testimony


However, one fact is true, which I can testify of:

When you invite the Lord into your life, He will make Himself known to you, in His own way, and in His own time.

It can be as simple as turning off your car radio while driving. In my April 27, 2014 blog post, "Walking and Talking with God, Part 1", I recounted an experience when I was driving to an appointment. I had felt impressed to turn off the radio, which I did. Because I did so, I was able to hear the Lord say something to me which has been indelibly imprinted in my soul ever since.

Please note that I am no one of any special circumstance. I don't have a significant church calling. I don't have a significant Mormon family pedigree. I'm definitely not a scriptorian. And without even a moment's hesitation, my wife will tell you I'm very imperfect. I get impatient. I'm often faithless in the Lord. I'm quick to judge and condemn the arrogant, the powerful and rich. For years, I've struggled with believing in myself (something my wife and the Lord conspired together to help me with). I often cry to Father -- I beg and plead with Him -- to be merciful with me because of my many weaknesses and faults. And when (not if) Babylon falls, I'll miss a lot of foods that aren't good for me anyway.

See? Nothing perfect and nothing spiritually mindblowing here!

However, as I mentioned in "Walking and Talking with God, Part 1", God is no respecter of persons (click here to read more).  If Jesus will make Himself known to me in ways I've never mentioned on this blog, then He will most definitely do so with you as well.

The same is true for Father.

And Mother.

Perhaps you're thinking you're too unworthy, too fearful, too prodigal for such experiences. Maybe you feel like you're too late to turn around and live a better life. I get that. Yes, you (and I) are unworthy. In fact, we are "less than the dust of the earth." (Helaman 12:7)

Yet despite this unrighteous standing before God, we totally, totally underestimate how anxious, how eager, how enthusiastic the Lord is to forget all of that in an instant. He's already forgiven you of your stupidity and sins; all you need to do is reach out and receive the Atonement He made for you 2,000 years ago. Read "The Direct Link to God" section at the top of this post, and click here for more about what God is really looking for in you.


An Invitation Invitation


I started this post talking about your heart. It's the connecting point, the meeting place, between you and God.

To hear God's voice, you must listen with your heart. To love him, you must love with all your heart.

Seek Him. Love Him. Invite Him into your life in every possible way, every day.
"But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice; … He will not forsake thee.” (Deut. 4:30–31)
In my next blog post, we'll review some exercises -- some simple things which you can easily do by yourself -- to visualize Jesus and Father...and hopefully catalyze a spiritual interaction which will precede the actual physical interaction with them.

3 comments:

  1. I have enjoyed all of your posts over the years, but I have especially appreciated this most recent series! Thank you for continuing to inspire others to seek the most meaningful relationship in all Eternity as well as provide some insights of how to go about it! God bless!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful! Thanks so much for your testimony. Loved the scripture in Deuteronomy--I've never seen it before--as well as Bruce Hafen's talk. I had heard recently about the Brother of Jared perhaps getting his idea of the illuminated stones from Noah. Diligence. Pure faith. Pretty cool stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Loved this post. I was extremely moved by the Mercy Me song after reading it. Thanks for your insights. Look forward to reading much more.

    ReplyDelete