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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Commanded Blessings


From Descent to Ascent


“God never bestows upon his people, or upon an individual, 
superior blessings without a severe trial to prove them” 
(Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe (1954), 338).

In my last post, I introduced you to Cheryl (not her real name) -- a married LDS housewife in her 40s with several kids and is deeply spiritual. Her story is one of astounding spiritual depths, as she suffered for many years with chronic pain combined with periodic, months-long severe chronic insomnia which left her body toxic (to put it in perspective, she once took 9 muscle relaxants at the same time. They had no effect). All of this, combined with blessings given by seasoned, experienced priesthood leaders without any results, led to her wishing to die. It was only when her 19 year-old son, soon to depart on a mission, gave her a blessing which started the ball rolling...in an upward trajectory.

Here’s the rest of Cheryl’s story:
When I asked my son to give me a blessing, I received revelation on what he should say and do. (1) He needed to fast first, (2) He needed not to “bless”, but “command” my body to sleep and (3) He needed to understand that this was a life-and-death situation and that it required tremendous importance. The result: He later said he could feel the power of God rushing through his body, and was subsequently exhausted. For me, the blessing worked; I could sleep. Not a lot, but a little bit. 
But that was only the beginning of my ascent. 
At roughly the same time as my son’s commanded blessing, I met a faithful priesthood holder -- a mutual friend of a full-time missionary who once served in our area. Like the Savior, He took time to listen to me, thoroughly understand my condition and the degree of faith I had in the Savior. You can tell he has a deep, long-term relationship with Christ. He’s a tremendously humble man who wants zero acclimation. 
After several days of contemplating, I asked him for a priesthood blessing for my pain and insomnia. It was kind of intimidating because I knew this was a priesthood holder with incredible faith and a close relationship with God. He accepted my request. 
In the blessing he gave me, I once again heard that word: “Command” -- but this time, it wasn't at my suggestion. He addressed my body -- every organ, ever nerve, every artery, every vein, every fiber, every cell, every cellular nucleus and every atom in my body. Then, the commanded them to work as they were originally created to function. By inspiration, he commanded them to alleviate my pain and to allow me once again to sleep. He commanded my body to once again enjoy healthy sleep patterns. He commanded my body to heal itself. Then he sealed the blessing upon me in the name of Jesus Christ. 
It’s now been a month since that blessing. And after 14 years of chronic (every day) pain, the worst my pain has hit has been 8 instead of 10. I’m usually a 4, which is pretty functional for me. For several days after I got that blessing, I was a zero on the pain scale -- something I hadn't felt for over a decade. 
As for the insomnia? Well, I’m happy to report that it’s gone. As in, I have been healed. A few weeks ago, I took a nap -- something that’s been a foreign, distant concept to me for years. I now fall asleep in the late evenings, and awake in the early mornings, just like most people do. 6-8 hours of sleep? Yep. Trouble going to sleep? Not anymore. Nightmares? Yep, they’re gone too. Naps? Love them! 
But the story doesn't end there. 
I later received another blessing. It told me why I was blessed with pain in mortality, when it would be alleviated and by whom. I now have context, and context for me means a great deal. I was also given blessings which are the direct inverse of touching the depths of hell. Within the last month, God has pronounced me with blessings which are far and beyond anything I could have imagined qualifying for. He told me that because I had never turned my back on Him when I was in the depths of hell, He would not turn His back on me in the heights of heaven. He then pronounced the profound, eternal, weighty blessings I had been granted...because I had faith in and loved Him even in the depths of hell and near death. 
I am so unworthy of these blessings. I suppose no one ever is. But I’m also profoundly, profoundly grateful to Jesus Christ -- for His sensitivity, for His motivation, for His deep and thorough knowledge of me. 
I’m just an ordinary housewife with ordinary challenges, just like you. Yet my story is extraordinary because of my best friend, my Lord and my God. I hope someday I can have the opportunity to look into your eyes, and to testify to you personally my indisputable knowledge -- knowledge! -- that Jesus Christ lives and loves us far more than we realize, and that I will cherish and adore Him forevermore.”
“But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell;
I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally
in the arms of his love.” (2 Nephi 1:15)

“The difference between a prayer and a priesthood blessing”


President Boyd K. Packer taught,

“Priesthood is the authority and the power which God has granted to men on earth to act for Him. When priesthood authority is exercised properly, priesthood bearers do what He would do if He were present.” (“The Power of the Priesthood”, April 2010 General Conference; emphasis mine)

Elder Packer spoke those words in April, 2010. A few paragraphs further in his Conference talk, he stated,
“We have done very well at distributing the authority of the priesthood. We have priesthood authority planted nearly everywhere. We have quorums of elders and high priests worldwide. But distributing the authority of the priesthood has raced, I think, ahead of distributing the power of the priesthood. The priesthood does not have the strength that it should have and will not have until the power of the priesthood is firmly fixed in the families as it should be.” (emphasis mine)
Here we are, a little over eight years later, and Pres. Russell M. Nelson stated,
“Not long ago, I attended a sacrament meeting in which a new baby was to be given a name and a father’s blessing. The young father held his precious infant in his arms, gave her a name, and then offered a beautiful prayer. But he did not give that child a blessing. That sweet baby girl got a name but no blessing! That dear elder did not know the difference between a prayer and a priesthood blessing. With his priesthood authority and power, he could have blessed his infant, but he did not. I thought, “What a missed opportunity!” 
Let me cite some other examples. We know of brethren who set sisters apart as Primary, Young Women, or Relief Society leaders and teachers but fail to bless them—to bless them with the power to fulfill their callings. They give only admonitions and instructions. We see a worthy father who fails to give his wife and his children priesthood blessings when that is exactly what they need. Priesthood power has been restored to this earth, and yet far too many brothers and sisters go through terrible trials in life without ever receiving a true priesthood blessing. What a tragedy! That’s a tragedy that we can eliminate.” (“Ministering with the Power and Authority of God”, April 2018 General Conference; emphasis mine).
I couldn't agree more with Pres. Nelson. All too often, I hear blessings which sound more like what he said -- “admonitions and instructions” as if someone were laying hands on someone’s head and citing paragraphs from the General Handbook of Instructions. Yes, Pres. Nelson, such “blessings” need to be eliminated from the habits of every priesthood holder on the earth.

Then there are those blessings which sound a lot like prayers. They include the phrases like “Your Heavenly Father wants you to know” and “If it is God’s will”.

I don’t think God refers to Himself in the third person. I can’t think of a single instance where a member of deity referred to themself in the third person. Can you? If you’re receiving a blessing where God is being referred to in the third person, then from whom is that blessing really from?
If we’re wondering what God’s will is in a blessing, then where’s the assertiveness we’ll be reading about here in a minute?

The fact is, prayers and blessings are as different as peanut butter and jelly:

  • Prayers are either a personal dialogue between an individual and Heavenly Father, or a beseeching, a request, on behalf of a group of people.
  • Blessings are neither dialogues nor requests, they are special favors and gifts bestowed by God (Genesis 1:22) or individual (Genesis 24:60; 27:28-29; 2 Nephi 4:5-7,9,11).

Blessings with REAL Power


“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

So, if “priesthood bearers do what He would do if He were present”, What Would Jesus Do if He were invited to give a priesthood blessing? How much wishy-washiness would there be? Do you think He’d be saying “If the Father wills it” or “God loves you” (as if its a unique thing you already didn't know)?

I don’t think so. He -- and His true disciples -- would give inspired, personalized pronouncements which are tremendously confident, bold, decisive, assured, forthright, firm, emphatic, authoritative, determined and, most of all, commanding:
“The Lord shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” (Deuteronomy 28:8
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” (Psalm 133:1,3)
Example 1

When Jesus saw the dead son of a widow, what did he do?
“Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.
And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.
And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.” (Luke 7:12-15; emphasis mine)
“Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.” isn't a prayer. It’s a command.

Example 2

Peter’s blessings were pure commands. Here, read of this faith and assertiveness:
“And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.
And there he found a certain man named Æneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.
And Peter said unto him, Æneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.
And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.” (Acts 9:32-35; emphasis mine)
“Æneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed” isn’t a prayer. It’s a command.

Example 3

In other instances, we read that a prayer is offered first, then the blessing is pronounced -- thus highlighting the differentiation between a prayer and a blessing. For example, we read of Peter praying, then commanding a woman who had died:
“But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.” (Acts 9:40-41; emphasis mine)
“Tabitha, arise” isn’t a prayer. It’s a command.

Example 4

Here’s how Lazarus’ raising took place:
“Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.” (John 1:41-45; emphasis mine)
“Lazarus, come forth” isn’t a prayer. It’s a command.

I could cite many more examples of how Christ blessed people. In some cases, He prayed first. In others, He didn’t. Yet in all of them, when He gave blessings, they weren’t iffy or indecisive, uncertain or unsure.

They were commanded.

Moving Forward...And Upward


We have been told that “When priesthood authority is exercised properly, priesthood bearers do what He would do if He were present.”. We have also seen church leaders lament the lack of this power, both in 2010 and 2018.

What about you?

If this “tragedy” is to be “eliminated”, then who does it realistically start with?

If you have priesthood (“the authority and the power which God has granted to men on earth to act for Him”), do your blessings reflect “what He [Jesus] would do if He were present”?

Even before Jesus and Peter gave these blessings, they walked while connected with Father (“The music is all around us. All you have to do is listen”). When the time came to give the blessing, they already had direct word from the Father, and BOOM! Father’s words were spoken, and God’s grace instantly poured down like rain, washing people’s eyes to see His majesty.

Thus, we see two very important aspects with commanded blessings:
  • You can't give blessings from God if you don't know His voice in the first place. If you want some ideas on how to do that, click here. It’s the first in a series of posts I wrote over four years about how to walk and talk with God. Then, if you really want to learn more about the voices which influence us, please go here to review Posts by Topic. On the left-hand side, click “Voices”. The top of the page will then list all the blog posts written about voices. Have fun!
  • If you ever experience one of these wonderful moments when Father clearly commands you to do something, don’t flinch. Be ready to do what He says. Otherwise, you’ll miss a rare and incredible opportunity to cooperate with God and see a wonderful miracle.
If you’re the recipient of a blessing, are you going to be satisfied with a blessing that’s incongruent with “what He [Jesus] would do if He were present”?

How satisfied are you with generic, “cardboard-tasting” blessings? I certainly am not.

So, why not run a play from Cheryl’s playbook? Don’t settle for second best. Approach the throne of Grace with boldness. Ask God -- beg and plead with Him, weary Him with your importunings -- that a priesthood holder with true priesthood power will come and work a miracle in your life.
"God is not a respecter of persons, we all have the same privilege. Come to God weary him until he blesses you &c we are entitled to the same blessings" ([recorded in Willard Richards Pocket Companion, 78-79] cited in The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, comp. Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook [1980], p. 15).
I think it’s natural for us to believe that we're somehow unworthy to give or receive a commanded blessing. To be frank, none of us are worthy. But my experience is that despite our insecurities and imperfections, God still longs to bless us so we know for a surety how much He really does love us.

Look at it this way: If a 19 year-old pre-mission Elder can successfully give a commanded blessing, and the fruits are readily apparent for all to see, then any Melchizedek Priesthood holder who is keeping the commandments and able to heed God's commands should be able to give one too. And it seems like Pres. Nelson would love to see more of these, too, don't you think?

Perhaps a commanded blessing will calm the storms in your life. Or maybe the storms will be left to rage, and Jesus will comfort you, His child. After all, He’s the author of our hope, isn’t He?

So approach Father’s throne with reverence, but also boldness.

Invite Him to move the mountains in your life, or someone else’s. To show you hope, when there seemingly is none. To show you that He truly is what He says He is: A God of miracles.

Ask Him if He has one more miracle left in His pocket, then invite Him to show the world what He’s done in you.

Because THAT’S what faith can do.



Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Fallacy of “God Will Never Test You Beyond Your Known Limits”


Modern Day Davids and Goliaths


These days, we rarely witness a circumstance where a modern-day David beats a modern-day Goliath.

In my estimation, one of the greatest D&G stories in modern history is that of the medal-round game between the US and USSR during the 1980 Winter Olympics men's ice hockey tournament. The game is so significant in the annals of sports, that it acquired its own moniker: “The Miracle on Ice”.

Even of you aren’t much of a sports buff, I know that when you learn the story of the “Miracle on Ice” (as depicted in the 2004 movie, “Miracle”), and especially the tactics of Coach Herb Brooks, you’ll add a lot to your arsenal of spiritual strategies.

In case you’re not familiar with the backstory or movie of the “Miracle on Ice”, let me give you some back-story: In 1980, the US was living in a malaise: high inflation, gas shortages, 51 Iranian Embassy hostages, lack of confidence in the government, escalating international tensions and more. The US needed something hopeful to believe in. Unbeknownst to anybody, it was 20 kids who did the trick.

"I will try you and prove you herewith"


Brooks believed that for his team to win the gold medal, he would need to shove the Soviet’s game right back at them -- a truly unbelievable challenge. The USSR’s team was a heavy favorite to win again. Its primary weapon was intimidation: it consisted primarily of professional players with significant experience in international play and an unbelievably high degree of speed and execution. By contrast, the US's team consisted exclusively of amateur players, and was the youngest team in the tournament and in US national team history. So, there’s your Goliath and David.

Brooks’ strategy to beat Goliath was epic:
"This cannot be a team of common men because common men go nowhere. You have to be uncommon."
He implemented a grueling, rugged, six-month long pre-Olympic strategy where he worked his team harder and smarter than any other Olympic hockey team ever had. As one team member later said, “We thought, ‘He can do anything he wants to with us. But he’s not gonna break us.’” Then, just weeks before the Olympics, Brooks turned the screws even tighter by bringing in new players for tryouts. But the team never cracked; they bonded even stronger.

Immediately before the team met the Russians on the rink, Brooks told his team,
“Great moments are born from great opportunity. And that's what you have here tonight, boys. That's what you've earned here tonight. One game. If we played them ten times, they might win nine.
But not this game. Not tonight. Tonight we skate with them. Tonight we stay with them. And we shut them down because we can. Tonight, WE are the greatest hockey team in the world. You were born to be hockey players. Every one of you. And you were meant to be here tonight. This is your time. Their time is done. It's over. I'm sick and tired of hearing about what a great hockey team the Soviets have. This is your time. Now, go out there and take it.”

And they did. They beat the strongest, fastest, most skilled team in the world by a score of 4-3. The Americans then went on and steamrolled over the Finns 4-2 to grab the gold. And in so doing, America’s victory didn’t resolve any of the crises I mentioned above. But it did jump-start a new era of confidence, healthy pride, belief and conviction. The nation’s spirit was revitalized. All because of an event that was far greater than a hockey game.

The Real Reason for Your Personal Descent


This post isn’t necessarily about sports, hockey, the Olympics, the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team or Herb Brooks. It is, however, a classic example of one compelling, paradigm-busting concept:

God will test you beyond what you think is your limit.

This philosophy probably flies in the face of what you’ve been taught since you were a child -- that God will never test you beyond your known limits. But if God were to test you up to your self-appointed boundaries, then how would you ever experience true, meaningful spiritual growth?

Like Herb Brooks, the Lord will give the righteous uncommon lessons in our path of discipleship:
“God will deliberately give us further lessons and experience which take us beyond the curriculum common to man and on into uncommon graduate studies or even post-doctoral discipleship. These trials are often the most difficult to bear. Our Father is full of pressing, tutorial love: ‘The Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith’ (Mosiah 23:21). Nevertheless we are assured that "all these things shall give [us] experience, and shall be for [our] good," if we endure them well and learn from them (D&C 122:7; 121:8). For we are to learn much by our own experience." (Neal A. Maxwell, Not My Will, But Thine, p.5; emphasis mine)
“All intelligent beings who are crowned with crowns of glory, immortality, and eternal lives must pass through every ordeal appointed for intelligent beings to pass through, to gain their glory and exaltation. Every calamity that can come upon mortal beings will be suffered to come upon the few, to prepare them to enjoy the presence of the Lord.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 345; emphasis mine)
In my interactions, I run across people all the time who are enrolled in the curriculum that’s common to man. They prioritize the temporal over the eternal, the telestial above the celestial. And all the while, they think that by virtue of being a member of the church, by having a temple recommend and not having done anything too bad, they have their ticket to paradise punched.

So you tell me: How can one expect to live in the company of the elect if they’re not on the same spiritual level as the elect? How can average, ordinary latter-day saint Jane or Joe possibly equate themselves to the likes of  the greatest righteous mortals to ever walk the planet?
"If we obtain the glory that Abraham obtained, we must do so by the same means that he did. If we are ever prepared to enjoy the society of Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or of their faithful children, and of the faithful Prophets and Apostles, we must pass through the same experience, and gain the knowledge, intelligence, and endowments that will prepare us to enter into the celestial kingdom of our Father and God. How many of the Latter-day Saints will endure all these things, and be prepared to enjoy the presence of the Father and the Son? You can answer that question at your leisure. Every trial and experience you have passed through is necessary for your salvation." (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.345; emphasis mine)
Many scriptures support Brother Brigham’s last sentence there. Afflictions are for our experience (D&C 122:5-7) and gain (2 Nephi 2:2), a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17; D&C 63:66) and ultimately, our exaltation (D&C 121:7–8).

Even our Lord himself demonstrated that He must descend below all things so that he could ascend above all things:
"He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth; which truth shineth." (D&C 88:6-7)
Such experiences could very easily be described as “Abrahamic Tests”, where God tests you in a manner similar to that which Abraham faced when commanded to sacrifice Isaac. We read in D&C 101:4–5:
“Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son. For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified”
(For more about Abrahamic Tests, I highly recommend you read two speeches:


Yet as we read in the story of Abraham, God provided a ram in the thicket -- a solution to the dilemma Abraham had to wrestle with.

But what if you’re asked to go through a test when there’s no immediate ram in the thicket?


Beyond Abrahamic Tests


I occasionally meet people who desire to have their calling and election made sure. While this is clearly a worthy desire, it seems at times that they lack a clear understanding of what they are asking for. They believe that they can obtain this blessing by praying, fasting, reading their scriptures, going to church, paying tithing, being charitable, learning the mysteries, etc.

I don’t think God hands out such supernal blessings just by us doing the ordinary. The US Olympic Hockey team didn’t get its gold -- and Abraham didn’t receive the Abrahamic Covenant -- just by doing the ordinary. They had to do the extraordinary, stretching themselves far beyond what they -- and others -- considered possible. This may have been what Brother Joseph was alluding to when he said:
“After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands),which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure, then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter, which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses. (History of the Church, 3:379-381; emphasis mine).
I’ve noticed that sometimes, people kind of gloss over that “at all hazards” section. Bad move. We need to be prepared for the fact that “all hazards” may at times mean that there will be no immediate ram in the thicket, no immediate angel to stop the knife, as there were with Abraham. You may be stuck in your Abrahamic Test for years...and maybe for the rest of your life.

Is such a thing even possible? Could God try and test us with no solution, maybe in this life?

Yes.

Paul faced that reality. He said,
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me. . . . For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:7–9).
Many suffer from a thorn in the flesh or a weakness that is excruciating, which God may see fit not to remove. Some endure debilitating addictions they wish they never had. Others live with mental illnesses for which there are no cures. And a few have survived -- and are frequently reminded daily -- of abuses so horrific, so heinous, that they could only be accurately described as “satanic”.

All of us know people, faithful people, who are afflicted with some debilitating illness that lasts and lasts, maybe for a lifetime. Neither prayers nor fasts nor tears nor blessings nor medicine relieves the condition. All that is left is to patiently endure.

On this note, I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Cheryl (not her real name). She's a married LDS housewife in her 40s, has several kids and is deeply spiritual. She’s the kind of person you could be sitting next to in Sacrament Meeting or Relief Society, yet you’d never know it. You need to read her story:


A Real-Life, Modern-Day Story of Extraordinary Spiritual Descent and Ascent


Touching the Depths of Hell

For 11 years, I suffered from severe, chronic pain. Four of those years were accompanied with periodic, months-long insomnia. If you’re unaware of chronic pain, click here for a handy pain scale chart. My pain was routinely (all hours, every day) between 4 and 10. As for the insomnia, without sleep, the body builds up toxins within your body and mind. Imagine what this can be like if you haven’t slept a couple of days. For me, I literally was awake the entire night, from sunset to sunrise, at all times of the day for days, weeks and months straight.

You’re probably thinking, “Where were the anesthesiologists, pain and sleep doctors?” They had no suggestions and no desire to help. I don’t even know if they believed me. Once, I was given sedation at the ER. They said it would knock me out. It didn’t. After all, so many people say things like, “I didn’t sleep last night.” What they usually mean is that they didn’t sleep well, or they woke up several times. That wasn’t me. Far from it.

I’m not sure if you can imagine what chronic pain + chronic insomnia can do to a person, but I can tell you through first-hand experience that you experience a living hell. In the darkness, depression and despair of my decrepit body, I can honestly say that I have experienced the depths of hell. I say that because I would be on my back, in the bathroom, stretching out my hands, begging God to either take away the pain or to take me home. Day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute, no relief came. I had to walk this path alone.

Yet through it, I never denied Christ, Heavenly Father or Mother. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t.

Alone.

Naturally, one would seek a priesthood blessing through all of this. I had dozens of them. Dozens. They would say that I am a daughter of God, that God was aware of me and God loves me. I was told to keep praying, keep reading my scriptures, go to the temple -- all the basics. Yet to be honest, not one of them was a blessing. They were closer to prayers given by the person giving the blessing.

In my desperation, I asked God if there was one priesthood holder in my stake who could bless me. Give me at least temporary relief. Just give me a breather. Please, just one priesthood holder! I received a definite word in my mind:

No (including my husband).

The Spark of Life

Shortly thereafter, my 19 year-old son was about to go on a mission. He had recently received the Melchizedek Priesthood. He believed my pain was real. He saw the torment and torture his mom had experienced for years. His heart was moved to compassion, and wanted to help and make sure I didn’t suffer while he was away for two years.

The day I asked my son to give me a blessing, I received revelation on what he should say and do. When he gave the blessing, it was profound. He said he was shocked by the feeling that he had while giving the blessing. He could feel the power of God working through him.

On that day, for the first time in many months, I got relief. I could sleep. Not a lot, but a little bit. Enough for my mind and my emotions to start healing. Between that day and the day he left on his mission three weeks later, he grew in his confidence in the power of the priesthood. And I grew in confidence that somehow, some way, I was turning a corner in my life.

As I look back on it, I’m amazed that my 19 year-old son was the least - the youngest - of all the Melchizedek Priesthood holders in my stake. But his blessing had more results, more fruits, than all the others combined. It’s true: “out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” (D&C 64:33).

-  -  -

So that’s Part 1 of Cheryl’s story.

In my next post, I’ll pick up right where I left off. You’ll see how Cheryl was healed, and almost instantly released from the depths of hell by one person with extraordinary faith and priesthood power. You’ll also read about how far she has ascended, to heights that are just as high as the depths she experienced (and perhaps more).