Saturday, August 1, 2009

It Was More Temple Than Prison

"Tonight’s message is that when you have to, you can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experience with the Lord in any situation you are in. Indeed, let me say that even a little stronger: You can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experience with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life—in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and opposition you have ever faced."

I know that I no longer teach Sunday School, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to prepare my own versions of the lessons before I go to church and see what they have in store. If you are reading this before (or even after) you have the lesson titled, "O God, Where Art Thou?" I would suggest reading the talk that Jeffrey R. Holland gave in a CES fireside in September of 2008 titled, "Lessons from Liberty Jail." This is where I found the opening quote that is written above.

I'm not going to go into great detail about the happenings at Liberty Jail or the time surrounding it, but I will say that I believe this period of time to be one of the hardest in Church History as well as the hardest time in the Prophet Joseph Smith's life. But it also led to my favorite sections in the Doctrine and Covenants (121-123). At the opening of Section 121, Joseph is having what I call a "God is picking on me" moment. It's gotten to the moment where he feels that he and the Saints have suffered enough and they should be seeing some miracles in response to their faithfulness. I'm not trying to trivialize what is being said, I'm personally identifying with it. While moments like this can be interpreted to be prideful or indignant, I like to see them as the end of the humility fuse. God understands our frustrations, He understands everything. So within the walls of Liberty Jail, we see a beautiful transformation in Joseph's understanding of God. He finds spiritual liberty in a physical jail. And isn't that true of life's purpose itself? Instead of chastising Joseph, He speaks to him as any loving Father would. "I am here. This will pass. All will be made right."

It is in times like these, in trials like these in which all of us can truly come to know our Father in Heaven. Where we can feel the constant presence of the Holy Ghost. In our hardest trials we are given the opportunity to come to know our Savior on a deeper level than any other.

"...these revelations “made Liberty jail, for a time, a center of instruction. The eyes of the saints were turned to it as the place whence would come encouragement, counsel—the word of the Lord. It was more temple than prison, so long as the Prophet was there. It was a place of meditation and prayer. … Joseph Smith sought God in this rude prison, and found him” (B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, 1:526).

1 comment:

  1. Ashley- I just love your posts! I'm so glad that you agreed to contribute. I always read your posts and think...coming away learning something new.

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