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Last week we had a great conversation in church about Lehi’s Vision in the Book of Mormon. For those not familiar with the vision, you can find all the details of the vision in 1 Nephi chapters 8 and 11.
In the vision, there is a part where mists of darkness arise around people who are striving to reach a tree with fruit that is most desirable and fills ones soul with joy. The tree, according to scripture, represents the love of God.
In the Church, I feel that when we discuss the mists of darkness that arise in Lehi’s dream, we often correlate that with temptations, sins, and distractions from Satan that take us off of our path to God and to wayward paths.
However, last week, as we discussed and read about the dream, I thought about times in my life when I have literally had mists of darkness arise when experiencing depression or discouragement. I’ll paraphrase one experience that I wrote about in the book Discovering Light:
There was one day while I was experiencing extreme depression and doubt. I was driving in the rain and crying from the heavy weight that I was feeling. Thoughts were swirling around in my mind and I pulled over and offered a mighty prayer in desperation, asking God to intervene.
Within a couple of minutes, my Grandfather called me, out of the blue. Hearing his voice as he said “my boy!” immediately snapped me out of my downward spiral of negative thinking and I smiled as I remembered the fun times I had with him growing up next door. Images of riding horses together, working together, singing together, etc. came into my mind.
I shared with him my emotional state and how depressed I felt. He opened up to me and shared with me how intimately he understood my situation and shared some very personal experiences of a time when he was depressed right after my Grandmother had passed away.
He then shared his testimony of how God carried him and helped him through and he knew God would do that for me too. This conversation gave me hope for that day and was a testimony to me that not only did my Grandfather care for me, but my Heavenly Father did as well and had sent Grandpa as an angel to rescue me.
This experience reminds me of something Russell M Nelson, from the Quorum of the 12 Apostles recently wrote in his book “Accomplishing the Impossible”. He writes:
…angels are at work. Often our members are “angels” to neighbors in need. Home teachers and visiting teachers, as ordinary people, frequently render service that seems angelic to grateful recipients….I am among the many who have often referred to the loving acts of an “angel mother” or an “angel wife,” or the priceless love of “angel children”.
Do we believe in angels? Yes! We believe in angels-heavenly messengers-seen and unseen; and earthly angels who know whom to help and how to help. Gospel messengers, or angels, can include ordinary people like you and me (pg 25).
I’ll forever be grateful for my Grandfather who was close to the Spirit and listened to a prompting from God and acted as an angel to my prayer when I was in the middle of a “mist of darkness”.
From personal experience, I know that darkness, doubt, and depression can be overpowering and make one feel like it is impossible to accomplish the task of even getting through another day. I know that with God’s help, we can all accomplish the impossible to either have strength to hold on while we are experiencing “mists of darkness” and eventually make it through.
Today in Elders Quorum we had a great lesson from the new Howard W Hunter manual entitled “My Peace I Give Unto You“.
Before class though, we spent some time introducing ourselves: where we’re from and our favorite football team (most of us were Seahawks fans so we weren’t too thrilled about the outcome of the game today–one of us was a Steelers fan and that’s like a swear word here in the Seattle area! We determined we needed to pray for our brother’s soul : ). It was interesting how many guys had great positive memories attached to their football teams. For example, Steve Capps remembers watching Cowboys games with his Dad and laying his head down in his “squishy belly”!
After the introductions, there were some very good conversations about how we can obtain peace when things in our world seem to be in turmoil.
Danny Kim, the instructor, read some experiences about Howard W Hunter when his wife was going in for a serious surgery and as he prayed, he felt an overwhelming peace and comfort come over him. He then asked us to share stories of faith where we felt peace during a period of disaster or sickness.
Pres. Wolf shared a story about when his wife got some clots in her lungs and he was afraid for her life. However, as he prayed with her and laid his hands on her to give her a blessing, he felt a strong sense she would be fine and peace filled his soul.
I shared a story of when we thought we were losing our baby, and as I gave the blessing to my wife, I felt a great sense of peace came over us and we knew things were going to be OK, which they were and are still.
Finally, Br Capps shared a story of the recent cancer that his wife had and is working on still. It sounded like they are doing fine and that through the power of faith, prayer, blessings, and patience, they are doing well.
How does Jesus Give us Peace?
The question was then posed: How does Jesus Give us Peace?
Another Elder in our Quorum, Todd, shared a touching story to illustrate how Jesus gives us peace.
He shared a story about a time when he was living in Hawaii and one of the members of his ward (congregation) ran over and killed another ward member’s son due to speeding.
He described how the father, whose son died, got up publicly and forgave the person who did that to his son and that he felt a great comfort and peace knowing the Plan of Salvation and how he would be able to see his son again someday.
This story reminded me of a touching conference talk by Elder Faust a few years ago called “The Healing Power of Forgiveness“, where he shares a touching story of Amish community members who forgave one of their own who killed many of their friends and family.
The Atonement of Christ and the Plan of Salvation are the main things that give us peace, it was determined.
I left the meeting uplifted and felt closer to my fellow Elders as well as thankful for the Atonement and Plan of Salvation and the peace Jesus give us.
What are your thoughts on how Jesus gives us peace and what experiences do you have on how He has comforted you in times of trouble?
Last year during the Super Bowl, Deon Sanders interviewed Doug Baldwin, Wide Receiver of the Seattle Seahawks, and told him he wasn’t a “grown man” because he didn’t warrant double team coverage during a football game.
If you are a football fan, you’ll hear Deon talk frequently about what being a “grown man” means and it usually has something to do with being athletic, powerful, physical, etc.
In the world, being a grown man means all of this along with money, power, having a perfect body and everything else the world has to offer.
In Elders Quorum (men’s group) yesterday, we had a good conversation about how we can face the challenges the world brings us. One of the Elders in the group said something that stood out to me, which I’ve been reflecting on since. He said if we know Jesus, we can face the world as grown men.
This is a very simple, yet profound thought that leads to more questions to consider:
Do we know Jesus?
If we do, where are we with our relationship with Him?
If not, how do we get to know Him?
How does He help us face the world and help us become “grown men”?
Additionally, I thought about how Jesus himself was the ultimate Man. He showed us a perfect example of what it means to be a man. Bold when he needed to be bold. Humble and always giving honor to His Father. Courageous too many times to count and ultimately on the cross. Loving, kind, the list goes on.
I am curious to continue this dialogue with those of you who read this.
How have you come to know Jesus?
If you have ever strayed, how did you return?
For someone who doesn’t know Him, what advice would you give on how to get to know Him and why it is important?