This morning as I read the Church’s announcement that general conference will be technologically distributed with no audience in the Conference Center this year, I thought, “God has a vision for each of us in our own homes!” I thought of my post A Correlation Between the Coronavirus and the First Vision and how the virus was proving to be so distractionary. Then I settled in to read the 1832 account of the First Vision again.
Entering the Grove of Trees to Pray
In my mind’s eye, I saw a young boy entering a grove of trees and kneeling to pray.
Then to my surprise, I saw hundreds of children, women, and men entering the same grove of trees. In their own solitary spots in the grove, each person knelt to pray.
The Holy Ghost taught me that this was one way the Lord would bless those who are prepared with their individual revelatory experiences. I’ve felt the power of God sitting in the Conference Center, and Tabernacle before it, listening to apostolic witnesses and hearing divine music. I’ve also felt the power of God and cried uncontrollably alone on my couch while I watch conference. Which is more powerful? They both served an important function in my conversion’s journey.
At home, I am free to experience all of the emotion and outpouring instead of worrying about suppressing anything to avoid making a public scene. (I’m not a genteel crier.)
At home, I enter the same grove of trees and kneel in my own space to receive my own revelatory experience. I’m fully expecting a revelatory experience. It’s been promised by a prophet of God!
God Has A Vision for Each of Us
President Nelson’s repeatedly invited us to prepare to receive from the Lord as we commemorate Joseph Smith’s First Vision.
When I spoke during last October’s general conference, I designated 2020 as a bicentennial period commemorating 200 years since God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith in a vision. That singular event in human history initiated the Restoration of the Lord’s gospel—an unfolding Restoration that continues today.
God loves all of His children and has a vision for each of us. Just as He listened to Joseph’s prayer in 1820, He listens to you and yearns to speak with you through the Spirit.
The Lord’s People Receive Revelation
Now I think this illustrates perfectly what is involved in the receipt of revelation and the seeing of visions. We can read about visions and revelations in the records of the past, we can study the inspired writings of people who had the fullness of the gospel in their day, but we cannot comprehend what is involved until we see and hear and experience for ourselves.
This Tabernacle is now full of words and music. Handel’s Messiah is being sung, and the world’s statesmen are propagandizing their people. But we do not hear any of it.
This Tabernacle is full of scenes from Vietnam and Washington. There is even a picture of men walking on the surface of the moon. But we are not seeing these things. The minute, however, in which we tune a radio to the proper wave band and tune a television receiving set on the proper channel, we begin to hear and see and experience what otherwise remains completely unknown to us.
And so it is with the revelations and visions of eternity. They are around us all the time. This Tabernacle is full of the same things which are recorded in the scriptures and much more. The vision of the degrees of glory is being broadcast before us, but we do not hear or see or experience because we have not tuned our souls to the wave band on which the Holy Ghost is broadcasting.
Joseph Smith said: “The Holy Ghost is a revelator.” And, “No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith [Deseret Book Co., 1968], p. 328.)
Moroni said: “… by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moro. 10:5.)
The Comforter knoweth all things; he is commissioned to bear witness of the Father and the Son, to reveal, to teach, and to testify—and he is broadcasting all the truths of salvation, and all the knowledge and wisdom of God, out into all immensity all of the time.
How this is done we do not know. We cannot comprehend God or the laws by which he governs the universe. But that it does happen we know because here in the valley below, when we attune our souls to the Infinite, we hear and see and experience the things of God.
The laws governing radio and television have existed from the time of Adam to the present moment, but only in modern times have men heard and seen and experienced these miraculous things. And the laws have always existed whereby men can see visions, hear the voice of God, and partake of the things of the Spirit. But millions of people everywhere live and die without tasting the good word of God, because they do not obey the laws which implant the revelations of the Lord in their souls.
And may I say that the only way to gain true religion is to receive it from the Lord. True religion is revealed religion; it is not a creation of man’s devising; it comes from God.
Man did not create God, nor can he redeem himself. No man can resurrect himself or assign himself to an inheritance in a heavenly kingdom. Salvation comes from God, on his terms, and the things men must do to gain it can be known only by revelation.
God stands revealed or he remains forever unknown, and the things of God are and can be known only by and through the Spirit of God. …
It is the right of members of the Church to receive revelation. Joseph Smith said: “… God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what he will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them. …” (Teachings, p. 149.)
Also: “It is the privilege of every Elder to speak of the things of God; and could we all come together with one heart and one mind in perfect faith the veil might as well be rent today as next week, or any other time. …” (Teachings, p. 9.)
Religion must be felt and experienced.
Joseph Smith experienced that religion individually in a grove of trees. Jonah experienced it individually in the belly of a whale. Jacob experienced it individually while using rocks for pillows on the ground. Nephi experienced that individually on a high mountain while his brothers believed that they couldn’t and wouldn’t receive their own revelation. Those places were sacred and holy to those prophets, just as our homes and places of revelation become holy as well.
God…has a vision for each of us.
I’ve never felt more invited to prepare, believe, and receive so that I can see, hear, and know. I believe we all can—because the Lord says we can.