Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Eyes of Our Understandings ... Were Opened

In referring to the reception of the February 1832 vision that he and Sidney Rigdon experienced (D&C 76), Joseph Smith described that it was "by the power of the Spirit" that their "eyes were opened and (their) understandings were enlightened, so as to see and understand the things of God."

How cool is that? Who wouldn't enjoy that sort of experience? I can imagine that great peace was derived from having that enlightening comprehension.

So what did they do to qualify for this enlightenment, and could we possibly follow the same steps to increase our own comprehension? I've been able to identify a few things they did.

First, they were doing their duty. They were voluntarily using their agency to do what they knew God wanted them to do. They were where they were supposed to be, when they were supposed to be there, doing what they were supposed to be doing. They were serving the Lord "in righteousness and in truth." (D&C 76:5) This is key for all of us.

Second, their hearts were right. They "feared" God, which I understand to me that they respected him and cherished their personal relationships with him.

Third, they had filled their minds with truth and were meditating upon that truth. I'll mention more about this below.

And finally, among other things, they certainly did not force things. Revelation and inspiration are always things that we "receive" like gifts, not taken like stolen property. Kids must wait until Christmas or their birthday, and we must wait upon the Lord to extend. We can only qualify for, we cannot demand. The timing of the reception is on the Lord's timetable.

So, I ask, are any of these qualifying habits things that we cannot emulate? No.

But why does any of this matter? Why should we care to "see and understand the things of God?" Last month as we pursued the attribute of knowledge, I kept asking myself, "knowledge of what?" and "what difference does it make?" I'd like to share my thoughts.

Comprehension, even an eventual comprehensive comprehension, accelerates the development of Christlike attributes. For example, knowing, understanding, and remembering the plan of salvation aids in the development and retention of many Christlike attributes, such as patience and hope. Nothing gives me more patience and hope, than to know that everything is going according to plan. In contrast, how perplexing and discomforting is it to not know the plan. Imagine being on vacation as a little kid: "are we there yet?"

Peace is another reward of comprehension. Trials and temptations befall all of us in life. Comprehending the "why" behind these difficulties brings peace. The apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians:
"... in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4: 6-7)
President Monson gave a three step formula for how to be an "example of the believers" in a talk he gave back in 2001. The first of the three steps is "fill your mind with truth." He promised, "your talents will expand as you study and learn." The verse from D&C 88 also seems applicable:
"And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things." (D&C 88: 67)
So for me, that's why it matters. If I can fill my mind with light and truth through scripture study, prayer, temple worship, and church attendance it will lend to my spiritual comprehension increasing, which will help me make better use of my agency and catalyze in me the development of all other Christlike attributes.
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (Philippians 4: 8)
May those blessings be yours as well as you fill your minds with truth.

See also: Ephesians 3: 14-19; all of D&C 88

1 comment:

  1. Hey brotha, I was looking for some uplifting words and felt impressed to look at your blog...I'm so glad I did. Thank you.