When Revelation Comes
Today my small branch enjoyed its third baptism so far this year. It was a day to be remembered and to rejoice. However, as our newest branch member entered the waters of baptism I was absent. As branch mission leader this would have usually made me feel a pang of guilt. My absence was not alone though, because I was in fact on an exchange with one of our full-time missionaries watching over him as he’s recovering from being sick. You understand how sick this young elder is by the fact that both he and myself missed this wonderful new convert’s baptism.
Knowing that all would run well in our absence, and as this elder slept deeply in their small apartment, I sat leaning back in one old chair as my feet rested in what was obviously a chair that some set of missionaries had “borrowed” from a chapel somewhere. It was a classic Mormon padded blue folding chair. Y’know, the kind you see if every cultural hall in Utah? Anywho, it was very relaxing. And as a heavy January rainfall pattered on the tin roof above I enjoyed a very insightful and meaningful personal study in my scriptures.
After a couple of hours of studying the Creation, the Plan of Salvation, Priesthood, and both of Paul’s epistles to Timothy, I decided it was time for something a tad more stimulating, and I picked up my phone. I enjoyed reading much on the Church’s new Revelations in Context website which has been created to give us a greater understanding of the historical context in which many of the revelations we now have in the Doctrine and Covenants were received. I especially enjoyed the essay entitled “William McLellin’s Five Questions” and reading the simple and beautiful way in which the Lord spoke to the Prophet Joseph. When Joseph, or William McLellin, or anyone in church history has ever had questions, all they’ve had to do was seek and they found.
The Lord is pretty cool at always giving us what we ask for.
As I pondered this I felt some thoughts and deeply personal questions arise within myself, and as I sat in the quiet apartment pondering my life I continued to click on my phone and went to the BYU Speeches website to see if I could find a good devotional to listen to. Instantly I found Sister Elaine Dalton’s recent talk entitled “Prophetic Priorities and Dedicated Disciples” and downloaded the free MP3. Leaning back and with my feet propped up, with rain falling on a tin roof and an elder sleeping deeply a few feet away on his bunk bed, I turned down the volume to just a whisper and held my phone to my ear to hear Sister Dalton’s words.
From the get go Sister Dalton had my attention as she bore powerful and pure testimony, and then shared this touching story:
The movie Chariots of Fire is the moving story of Eric Liddell, the gold medal winner in the 400-meter track event in the 1924 Paris Olympics. Liddell was not only a gifted athlete who held to his convictions, but he lived out his faith to the very end as a Christian missionary in China. He was such an incredible athlete that his goal was to get to the 1924 Olympics in France and run in his best race—the 100-meter race. He trained hard to get in top shape, and his country of Scotland was sure that he would win a gold medal for them. There was just one problem. The heat to decide who would make the Olympics was on a Sunday, and Liddell would not run on Sunday. Due to this conflict he chose not to run in the 100-meter race. Instead he qualified for the 200- and 400-meter races because those heats were not held on Sunday, but no one expected him to come close to winning. Just prior to the start of the 400-meter race, he was given a piece of paper on which was written words from 1 Samuel 2:30: “Them that honour me, I will honour.” Liddell ran with that piece of paper in his hand and held onto this promise tightly. And, to everyone’s surprise, he won the gold medal and broke a world record. Listen to what his character in the film Chariots of Fire said after winning a previous race:
“You came to see a race today. To see someone win. It happened to be me. But I want you to do more than just watch a race. I want you to take part in it. I want to compare faith to running in a race. It’s hard. It requires concentration of will, energy of soul. You experience elation when the winner breaks the tape—especially if you’ve got a bet on it. But how long does that last? You go home. Maybe your dinner’s burnt. Maybe you haven’t got a job. So who am I to say, “Believe, have faith,” in the face of life’s realities? I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way. I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from to see the race to its end? From within.”
As I listened to Sister Dalton share Eric Liddell’s words about power coming from within I felt something begin to stir within me, and I realized the Holy Spirit was alerting me to the fact that I needed to have ears to hear what was coming for me.
A few moments later into her talk Sister Dalton told this touching and entertaining story and counsel:
I am personally keenly aware that many of the blessings I am enjoying now in this life stem from decisions I made when I was between the ages of eighteen and thirty. This amazing man sitting with me here on the stand happens to be the best decision I made while here at BYU. To this day he still thinks he saw me first, but the fact is that I spotted him on campus, went to the administration building, found out his schedule, and just happened to be near some of his classes occasionally. I believe you might call that “stalking” today! But I called it flirting then. And I clearly remember sitting in a devotional similar to this having prayed about making the decision to marry or not marry this man. I was worried. I felt so young. That day the speaker spoke about how to make decisions. I can still vividly recall feeling that I was the only one in the entire devotional that morning, and I left with the formula for how to receive personal revelation—to know all things that I should or should not do. That formula is one that all of you are familiar with in sections 8 and 9 of the Doctrine and Covenants—but that day it was news to me. And, as you can see, I applied the formula, and the rest is history!
I don’t think either Steve or I realized or visualized what the future would hold then. We felt so young. We were so young! This Christmas I gave my husband a family portrait. As he opened it, it was one of those magic moments when heaven and earth come together. We looked at our eternal family and we sat in the living room and cried as we counted our blessings and as we thought about all those critical decisions along the path of life—made when we were young, following the guidance of the Spirit. So I invite you to read Doctrine and Covenants sections 8 and 9, learn the pattern, follow the Spirit, and don’t let anyone tell you that you are too young. “Let no man despise thy youth.”
The Lord loves and trusts the youth. He always has. He gave Joseph Smith the responsibility to open this dispensation, to translate the Book of Mormon, to hold the keys of the priesthood and the sealing power, and to receive prophetic witness and guidance. He was just fourteen. Through a prophet of God the Lord called Mormon when he was just ten to continue in his habit of being quick to observe and to prepare to keep the record when the time came. That record guides you and me today: the Book of Mormon. To Mary and Joseph, God entrusted His Only Begotten Son to be raised in virtue and holiness. They were young. Moroni led an army to defend family, religion, and God when he was about your age. And to Samuel was entrusted a kingdom because the Lord looked on his heart, not on his age. To 2,060 young men was given the responsibility to defend their parents’ covenants. And the list goes on and on and on. So don’t let anyone or anything convince you that you are too young. You must seize the day because these are your days, and if the adversary can get you to postpone or delay your progress or to freeze you in fear or to get you to wait because he has convinced you that you are too young, he wins. Your youth is your strategic advantage.
And for me revelation came. Sweet, pure, and strong revelation about the next few steps I need to take with faith into the darkness in my life.
I had sought, and I had found.
Yes, Sister Dalton’s words about finding her eternal companion Steve were funny and insightful, but even more revelatory and riveting were the impressions and words which came to my mind via the Holy Ghost as I sat in a small and quiet apartment today.
When revelation comes it is simply beautiful and beautifully simple.
As I left our full-time missionaries’ apartment this evening I did so feeling almost as Moses may have felt when he left the mountain top or when the young Prophet Joseph left the sacred grove. I felt like I was leaving a holy and sacred place where God had communicated something of great import to me, and although I was sad to go I was also excited to see where my life will go from here.
Today I missed a baptism, but the Lord gave me a great tender mercy that I may not received had it not been for our poor sick elder and the opportunity I had to watch over him for a while.
The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a beautiful thing. The manner, the frequency, the clarity, and the intensity in which the Lord reveals His will to those who listen is equally as beautiful and builds my testimony daily as I seek out Zion in my personal life.
I hope when revelation comes to you in your life you might be blessed to hear it, recognize it, and heed it also.