And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him. (D&C 84:38)
Writing what I want to share today is risky. There is the possibility that some will read and think that I am exalting myself or “rushing the pass”. I hope I can convey what I believe is a very important message while, at the same time, easing any such concerns.
If you’re like me, you’ve grown up being keenly aware that there is a presence in the world known only as “they”. Today, as I was driving in the early morning hours, I found myself thinking, “Wow, they’re really doing a lot of work on this road”. How many times have we heard or thought, “They’re probably going to raise taxes”, or they will do this, or they did that? This they entity is very powerful, gets a lot done – for good and for evil – and greatly influences our lives.
Of course, they is really the Highway department, or gas companies, or commodities traders, or the government, or oil companies, or the Illuminati or something similar, but the point is that behind they are real people and forces, shadowy and mostly poorly understood, that exert their influence on our lives.
When I was a member of the LDS church, I recognized a “they” entity. Its behind-the-scenes identity was the Corporation of the President, or the “Brethren”, or General Authorities, or individuals, committees, departments, etc. in the Church Office Building, but they were responsible for many things, including printing scriptures (a great service to the world), building temples and conference centers and meeting houses and libraries, etc. They received revelation for the ward, or the stake, or the church, or the world. I could rely on them to guide the course of the good ship Zion, and I trusted that they were doing so by inspiration from the Lord Jesus Christ. I knew intellectually that someday – probably in the next life – I could receive “…all that my Father hath…”, but it wasn’t a reality to me. The reality for man was that they would receive that, but probably not me.
Well, I’m no longer a member of the LDS Church. Neither are many of you. There is no longer any they for us to rely on. We’re out there on our own, in our little row boat, navigating the vast seas, with nobody else to make decisions for us. We chose this course, because we believed – we took action in faith – that we could and should receive all the guidance we needed directly from the Lord. Some of us, perhaps, rely a little too much on guidance from individuals such as Denver Snuffer, but if we do, we are making a mistake. After all, Denver’s message is ultimately, “Receive your guidance from the Lord. Search the scriptures, pray, live righteously, choose the right, and receive Him”.
I can’t help but think about the courage, innocence, and sheer honesty of the young Joseph Smith, who looked around at the religionists in his world and decided, “You know, I’m going to ask God Himself what the truth is. After all, He told me that if I lack wisdom, I can ask Him. I think I’ll do just that!” Isn’t that what we’ve all done, to one extent or another? Did we not say to ourselves, “There’s something not right about the religionists in my world, and I’m going to set off on my own – disembark from the Good Ship Zion – and seek to know God, just as He has commanded me to do. I don’t think I can trust those who set themselves up as a light (no – not even Denver), because, if I do, I’m only living on borrowed light. I have to receive my own light, and I’m going to go to the Lord and find it”? Isn’t this what Joseph did? Don’t you think He would be proud of us, or at least empathetic?
Ok, so there is no more “they”. It’s just us. Yeah, we’re forming a community on line and locally, with occasional larger gatherings like the Grand Mesa Reunion, but at the core of all of this is the idea that we cannot rely on the arm of flesh (no – not even Denver) and that we must each receive our own instruction from the Lord.
There’s a potential problem with this – one that we must recognize and overcome. There is much work to be done! Zion must be established in the tops of the mountains. Miracles must be restored to the earth, including healing and raising the dead and command over the elements. The fullness of the priesthood must be received. Angels must minister. Preparation must be made for “Elias” and Elijah to return and restore the Lord’s order. Temples (at least one) must be built. There is no “they” that is going to do this. It has to be us!
I’ve mentioned before that history tends to elevate those who created it. We think of Oliver Cowdrey and Brigham Young and Emma Smith, or of Moses or Isaiah or Elijah or John the Beloved as being larger than life. Well, folks, I’ve got news for you. None of these men or women had any idea who they were to become in our eyes after 3000 years or even 150 years. They were just men and women with righteous desires just like we are. Sure – they may have been fore-ordained for a great work – but they still had to rise up and do that work. I do not believe that they knew, when they were making the choices that would determine the course of their lives and alter the course of history, that they were fore-ordained for such. And how many who are or were fore-ordained for a specific task choose not to fulfill it?
Brothers and sisters, WE must rise up and become the noble and great ones of our day – of the millennium! WE are the ones who had the courage to stand up as Joseph did and set out on our own, in our little row boats, to seek God! We may not all be transfigured and introduced by the Son to the Father. We may not all see “all creation” in one sweeping, timeless vision. We may not ever be visited by angels, or heal the sick, or raise the dead, or change the course of rivers (actually, I expect that we will, but for the sake of argument…) We may not lay a single brick of the New Jerusalem, but we must prepare ourselves to do all of these things. If we do not believe that we can receive all that the father has, then we are saying, in effect, “Father, I am willing to serve thee – courageously, faithfully – but only this much”. We must ask, seek, and knock on every door that the scriptures reveal to us, and seek every gift and every power that the Lord offers us.
We must ask, seek, and knock for the fullness of the priesthood, and for every gift, power, and responsibility that comes with it. We must ask for the power to heal. We must ask for the power to raise the dead and command the elements and to prophesy of future events unto the blessing of His children and the fulfillment of His plan for them – for us. We must seek to become so trusted of the Lord that He says unto us:
Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will. (Helaman 10:4-5)
You know – it may not be the Lord’s will that we will receive all things in this life, but the failure to become a fully empowered servant cannot be because we didn’t ask, or because we waited around for “them” to receive these things. What kind of condemnation would that bring upon us? Of course, we must wait with patience until we are prepared, but we must ask the Lord to prepare us, and then we must pray always, and seek always after His righteousness, that we might indeed be prepared to receive these greatest of gifts.
If you’re like me (and you probably are), you’ll quickly find yourself saying, “I cannot do this by myself. I am too selfish, and too weak, and too fearful…but I know that through you, by the power of the gift of your atoning sacrifice…all things are possible”. You will submit yourself to His grace and mercy. This is as it should be, but we cannot allow knowledge of our imperfection to limit the power and authority and effectiveness with which we serve. We must gain that perfect testimony that “through you, I can do all things” and we must believe it.
Brethren and Sisters, the Lord is going to need many Josephs and many Emmas in order to bring about Zion. Enoch didn’t build Zion, the people of Zion built it. They were of one heart and one mind, and that heart and mind was one with the Lord! Joseph couldn’t build Zion. He needed a population of Josephs and Emmas, of Hebers and Vilates to build it, but the community of their day didn’t have that. The Saints wanted them to do it all, and it didn’t work. I cannot tolerate the thought of Zion being built by them. I want it to be built by me…and you and you and you and you…by us! In order to do this, we each have to take the personal responsibility to be willing to build Zion all by ourselves, then have the charity to share that responsibility with all who desire to join us. We each have to seek after the power and authority of God…seek after “all that the Father hath” and then wait patiently while He grants unto us that portion that will enable us to serve Him according to His will.
When it comes to building Zion, there is no they, there is only us!…an “us” who have opened themselves to receive the fullness of the priesthood, to become one with the Savior, to be fully empowered servants who serve according to His will and who are not limited by their individual unbelief.
After all this, I close with a quote from the band U2, their song “Mysterious Ways”. I hope it alleviates any of the concerns that I mentioned at the opening of this post. I also think it nicely summarizes the entire message:
“If you want to kiss the sky, you’d better learn how to kneel (on your knees, boy!)”