Jumping out a Window

When I first joined the LDS Church I thought every Latter-day Saint had revelations, visitations by angels, and miracles in their lives.  I thought, the Joseph Smith story was the common experience for those who were members of this Restored Church. 
It took a few years before I realized that it was the exception, not the rule, that such miraculous experiences took place. I learned that most saints were more akin to Hugh Nibley’s description of his grandfather, a member of the First Presidency, who said that if he ever saw an angel he would “jump out the window.”
I think there is a tendency to avoid discussing any contemporary occurrence of the miraculous in our individuals lives within the Church because of the frequent association of such things with deceivers and the deceived.  In contrast to that fear, Moroni affirms that angels appear only to those with “a firm mind.”  (Moroni 7: 30.)  How odd it is that we have this juxtaposition:  On the one hand, in our day it is viewed as being evidence of a weak mind, or dubious character, and on the other Moroni asserts it is evidence of a “firm mind.”  One or the other has to be incorrect.
I think such things are experienced less because we talk of them less.  As we talk of them less, we increase our doubts about such things.  Doubt and faith cannot coincide. 
So was Christ weak-minded or of “a firm mind?”  Was Saul of Tarsus deceived or a deceiver, or instead a godly man who received notice from heaven?  What of Joseph, Alma, Moses, Peter, Mary, Elizabeth, Agabus, and John? 
Today we prefer our miracles at a distance.  When we do accept the occasional miracle, we want it to be separated by culture, time and reduced to written accounts from the deceased.  We think it’s safer that way.  Society trusts that when the miraculous has been reduced to history alone it can then safely be the stuff from which PhD’s and theologians extract the real meanings.  After all, our scientific society only trusts education, certification and licensing; not revelation, visitation and ministering of angels.  Well, even if that is not as it should be, it is at least as Nephi said it would be: “They deny the power of God, the Holy One of Israel; and they say unto the people: Hearken unto us, and hear ye our precept; for behold there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men.  Behold, hearken ye unto my precept; if they shall say there is a miracle wrought by the hand of the Lord, believe it not; for this day he is not a God of miracles; he hath done his work.”  (2 Nephi 28: 5-6.)

7 thoughts on “Jumping out a Window

  1. A couple years ago our stake patriarch visited our ward to give a talk. The moment he announced he was going to talk on a rarely discussed topic, ministering angels, I could sense a collective tensing-up of the congregation, as if to say “No, don’t talk about that!” I was stunned. Later that day I was home teaching a family and mentioned the talk, and they straightaway changed the subject.

    The supernatural makes people nervous. I’m beginning to think that we, collectively, have been brainwashed (I mean that literally) that supernatural events are evidence of insanity and generally being a nutcase. It is not tolerated well in society.

  2. ‘“The nearer a person approaches the Lord, a greater power will be manifested by the adversary to prevent the accomplishment of His purposes.”–Joseph Smith Jr

    I have literally sat in a priesthood discussion and have someone say that they would never seek the face of the Lord or to see an angel or anything like that because they knew it would open them up to additional trials from Satan.

    So maybe it isn’t all brainwashing…maybe some people are really just scared? Maybe they don’t understand the purpose of the endowment…that it is to teach how to detect evil as we approach the Lord through the veil?

  3. My question to this post is how is one to know if what they have been experiencing is deception, delusions, or truly a miracle?
    I ask because my whole life (49 years) I have been keenly aware of “others” beyond our awareness. I tend to “see” beings and things and have tried to hide it most of my life due to persecution. Many of the things I “see” have been validated medically or in other ways, but other experiences cannot be validated.
    When I use this ability to help others, news sometimes leeks out & I have been called everything from a nutjob to a witch and usually by priesthood holders.
    There is a man in Seattle (if I remember correctly)who fully believes he is Abraham and fully lives this delusion. He is an extreme example but it has made me question my own sanity in several of my experiences. I’ve prayed for years about this as well as studied and cannot find a conclusive answer.
    So again I ask how can one truly know if what they are experiencing is from God or a delusion?

  4. It always comes down to a few things:
    1. Does it testify of Christ or invite to believe in and accept Him and His role as Savior?
    2. Does it edify, uplift and bring you to do what is noble or good?
    3. Does it reveal to you something consistent with prior revelations, commandments or scriptures given from God?
    4. Are you living your life to the best of your ability in conformity with what you have been taught in the Gospel, as contained in the scriptures? (By “best of your ability” I mean that you have no glaring sins which you have not repented and forsaken. It is unlikely you will entertain a true messenger when you are deliberately in a state of rebellion against God.)
    If the answer to all these questions is “yes” then I would trust what you receive. If any of them are answered “no” then I would not trust what you have received.

  5. This seems like an appropriate post to thank you Denver for writing your books.

    We do tend to talk less about the miraculous in the Church. It is a breath of fresh air when someone does.

    The Wikipedia page on constructive proofs begins “In mathematics, a constructive proof is a method of proof that demonstrates the existence of a mathematical object with certain properties by creating or providing a method for creating such an object.”

    I view The Second Comforter. I’m not interested in any of the particulars of your experience (that would be voyeuristic and inappropriate); what I am glad to know is that the scriptural road map A) exists and B) can be followed by others.

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