Our trip to the Grand Mesa Reunion began early Friday morning when we went to pick up our neighbors Mary and Rita. I love early mornings. Things were crisp and alive with anticipation of a weekend that would prove to be unlike any other we had ever experienced. It was a pleasure to really meet Mary’s husband, Ben. I think we’re friends now. We then drove North and gathered Stephanie. We prayed for guidance and protection, comforted her dog and cat, and headed off to Bluffdale to complete our convoy – a truck and travel trailer driven by another friend.
We prayed again, calling down shields and angels to protect us as we journeyed toward Grand Mesa. We quickly discovered that convoys such as ours do not move as quickly or as steadily as single cars. A 6 hour trip turned into a 10 hour trip. The trip there and back was marvelous. Our traveling companions were each delightful. There was never a moment the entire 20+ hours when there was not conversation. We bonded, we trusted and we loved. It was beautiful. Needless to say, we had solved most of the world’s problems by the time we arrived at the High School in Cedar Edge, Colorado at about 8:30 – 2 hours late.
Before I actually talk about the reunion, let me first say that
There were about 200 people (a very rough guess) gathered in the auditorium at the time we arrived. I was greeted immediately by Sean May and his son. This was the first of many meaningful greetings and meetings. We quickly found out that one rule had been established at the opening of the reunion – “No handshakes – only hugs”. The first order of business, as you might expect after a trip like ours, was to visit the men’s room. As I came out, a hymn, “Beautiful Savior” was being sung. I stood off to the side soaking in the sound of 200+ voices, with a few adventurous soprano voices soaring above the melody. I quickly realized that this was going to be a very special gathering. Were those angels’ voices I heard joining the chorus? It would be impossible to convince me otherwise. I think that hymn set the tone for the whole weekend. I felt like we were in for a very special time.
The Formal, Assigned Talks
We missed Rock Waterman’s talk as well as Marti Grobecker’s talk and dance exercise, but we did arrive and settle in time to hear Jaqueline Olsen. Here, I want to switch from a travelogue-type account to simply sharing my impressions. The talks were inspired, not only in their content, but in their sequencing. On Friday night, Jaqueline and Larry Winn shared their testimonies of Christ – of His power, of His grace, and of their very personal experiences with Him. In doing so, they established the focus of the gathering – The Lord Jesus Christ. Larry closed his personal story with a song about how dependent we all are on Him. I think this set a precedent that testimony in song was acceptable, even encouraged, and there were several testimonies through the weekend that were expressed or accented through song. It proved to be a wonderful form of worship.
On Saturday, the theme of the prepared talks was Zion. I spoke about 4 scriptures that point us to Zion, and then Rob Smith shared his impressions about the realities that face us as the last days scenario plays out. The two talks seemed to be perfect bookends. On Sunday at the sacrament meeting, Garth and Melanie Turley shared striking personal stories of miracles and grace, followed by an hour of testimonies. Adrian Larsen’s closing talk exposed through scripture many myths about the building of Zion prior to issuing a call to action – a call to prepare ourselves to respond to the Lord’s voice. It was a perfect capstone to a marvelous weekend filled with messages of gratitude, understanding, preparation, and action. Each talk was delivered with confidence, humility and sincerity. I’m sure I speak for all the speakers when I say we were so thankful for the opportunity to share our thoughts and feelings in such a setting. There were many others who could have done equally as well, but I am convinced that the selection of speakers, as well as their individual selection of topics, was inspired.
On Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, ample time was set aside for personal testimonies. This was simply a beautiful thing. Many stood and testified. There were songs. There were tears. There was gratitude – primarily for the grace and mercy of our Savior. There were testimonies born by grizzled old men and innocent children; by the scholarly and experienced, and by the child suddenly alive and burning with wonder at what they were witnessing and feeling. One very young man quietly bore a testimony of meeting the Savior. I’m certain that most in the audience missed this – it was so quiet and unassuming. Yet, when he walked away, I could see the sincerity and power in his tears as he ever-so-subtly indulged in a spiritual fist pump, as if saying to himself, “Yes, I did it!” My friend John and I thought, “Did that really just happen?”
Many who stood were clearly uncomfortable. When this became obvious, the audience was quick to show support and encouragement with confirming “Amen’s” and appropriate applause. One of the most touching testimonies came from a young man named Travis who testified standing by the side of a lake high on the Mesa, shirtless, in preparation for his baptism. His friend Vaughn entered the icy waters with him, praying with hands lifted high to the heavens for the authority to perform this sacred ordinance. This intimate scene was witnessed by only a fortunate few who happened to have been delayed in heading back down the mountain.
Meet and Greet; Facebook Accounts to Faces
Oh, the Joy! I’m not even going to attempt to name names, for fear of leaving someone out. When we arrived, it was made clear that there had been an announcement of some sort at the beginning that handshakes were out and hugs were in – and hug we did! Bonds were formed that will never be broken. The smiles that beamed from faces on Sunday at the pot-luck were evidence of the love that had prevailed throughout the weekend. I don’t recall hearing a single word of contention the entire weekend. If ever there was a “yea, yea – nay nay” gathering, this was it. The spirit of Christ flowed through us all and was somehow magnified each time it was passed through a hug, a warm greeting, whispered encouragement, a shared testimony, even a gentle pat on the hand or an arm around the shoulder when the occasion called for it.
Let me just say that it seemed as if no detail were missed in the planning of this event. If there were “hiccups”, they were minor and completely transparent to me. As might be expected, the occasional speaker went over their scheduled time, but we adjusted. It seemed as if there was a perfect blend of structure and schedule with flexibility to allow the spirit to move, and without rigidity that might detract from that same spirit. I noticed many little details such as green table cloths on the table that held wine for the sacrament and white table cloths for the grape juice table. Or maybe it was the other way around. Oh, my – maybe that explains why I was feeling particularly “gladdened” during the sacrament meeting. These details were a testimony to the diligence and hard work offered by all who helped bring this together. My heartfelt kudos to Brett and Samantha and the many less visible volunteers who helped carry out the Grand Mesa Reunion.
A Call to Action
At the end of the event, Brett Corbridge addressed the group. He said there had been many references to “next year”. He made it clear that, at least at this time, there were no plans for “next year”. I immediately understood why. This was a highlight, a gathering. It was a one-time event of great, even eternal importance. Many had been prepared before coming here, and now they are prepared to go forth and serve. It’s not that there won’t be other gatherings at other places and with other people, or even with the same people, but this event was singular. A message was clearly given by the Lord…”I am here! I am calling you – you who are listening – to the work! I will prepare you; I will sustain you; my angels will accompany you. You must sustain each other. The work will be hard, but we will prevail. There are many dangers ahead, but the work will roll forth. Love, love, and love some more!
A Sad Accent – A Further Call
Over the weekend, one of our sisters, a young mother, died. She had been hospitalized for several days and hopes were apparently high for her recovery, but her condition suddenly worsened on Saturday and she died. I am told that during the sisters’ breakout session on Saturday, they held a prayer circle on her behalf. I may be sketchy on the details, but you get the idea. On Sunday, my daughter, Jules, confided in me the following:
“Why couldn’t we heal her??!!! We are supposed to have the power to do this! The Lord wants us to learn to use this power! We MUST learn this! Why did someone have to die because we haven’t learned how to use His power yet? It’s there for us! We must overcome this unbelief and lay hold of it. I see it. I know it. We ALL must come to this knowledge and this power or we will fail.”
Please understand that this was a very passionate confession with many tears and emotions, and I have recounted the words and the essence as best I could. I would also add my testimony to hers. This was a wake-up call to me. I am very casual about many things. I have great faith and confidence that the Lord will teach me what I need to know as I need to know it, and as I am prepared. However, if I need to become prepared to receive this power, then I must accept the urgency to prepare myself. Gifts such as healing the sick and raising the dead have been, for me, something that I expect will come, but they are not real for me. I guess this is called disbelief. The message I received from Jules is that we must seek after these gifts – this power. I must ask the Lord what I must do to prepare that I might be empowered. I cannot remain casual. How many more powerful servants might die because of my failure to prepare? We will never be able to serve Him with power if we do not prepare.
My friends, I do not claim this message to be coming from me. I am merely passing it on. However, there truly is an urgency. This reunion, with its call to action, was real and seminal. It was, or it should have been, transformational for all of us. It was beautiful and glorious and the love flowed, but above all it is a call to prepare and to serve. As Adrian was reaching the end of his talk, I was sitting on the grass toward the back of the audience. I suddenly felt as if I were lifted off the ground. I stood – because I felt like I needed to stand as a way of saying, “Yes, Lord, I will answer. I will stand for you! I will do whatever it takes!” I know there are many who have preceded me in this realization, and many who will follow when it is their time. Jules’ lament that we must prepare ourselves that we might gain access to the greatest powers of heaven – even the power over death – struck a powerful chord in my heart. The need is urgent! We must pray! We must cry out! We must humble ourselves, but then we must be powerful.
Again, my thanks to all those who orchestrated this “Reunion”. They were truly guided by the Lord, and this showed not only in the success of the event, but in their faces. They truly acted as His servants, seeking no honor unto themselves. Most remain nameless. They worked tirelessly that His message might be delivered. Let us not allow that service to be wasted. Let us each rise up in our own way, with our own power flowing from Him, trusting in Him, but stepping forward in faith that we, too, might serve Him; that we each might carry out our assigned role in this strange act – this one, last, final, and oh-so-glorious act. Praise be to Him in all things. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.