“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand . . . your heart. . . . I have been bent and broken, but . . . into a better shape.” —Charles Dickens, from Great Expectations
In the spring of 2005, I had a dream. It startled me awake at 4:30 a.m. Right then, I wrote down everything I could remember in my journal. It was a dream about apostasy preceding the Second Coming of Christ. I also saw and entered a desolate temple, one that had not yet been built at the time, but now stands overlooking a valley.
I only speak for myself, but I believe the apostasy I saw in my dream 14 years ago is starting to happen.
If you believe the scriptures are true and of value, this post may help you. That’s my intent.
The Great and Spacious Building
We’re passing through a difficult season for people of faith. Doubts and dissensions are edging friends, family, and other loved ones closer to and into the “great and spacious building,” the building Nephi saw in his dream many centuries ago (1 Nephi 8:26; 11:36).
Don’t get me wrong. Those doubts are normal and valuable. They’re healthy and part of the plan. They help us to find our way when we seek to turn them over and resolve them. They challenge us and help us discover who we are.
We don’t enter the doors of the great and spacious Airbnb because of doubts. We enter it because of the way we handle our doubts, by letting go of the iron rod which is the word of God (1 Nephi 11:25; see also 1 Nephi 15:23–24).
If we don’t believe the scriptures then we have to face moral relativism with its shifting values and rules to suit those who wish to control us. When we rely on this relativism, we can find ourselves controlled by those in positions of power that rarely have our best interests at heart. There are many lessons about this in history—the Soviet Union, communist China, and Nazi Germany to name a few, where upwards of 100 million people lost there lives on the altar of ideology.
Please take a moment to consider a few questions.
1. Have we humbled ourselves as little children?
And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2–4; emphasis added.)
An adult can be childlike if she is open, genuine, sincere, present, and guileless like a little child, or at least trying to be. If not the doors of the kingdom can seem shut against us when we’re the ones actually shutting those doors through our unbelief.
2. Do we have a broken heart and a contrite spirit?
Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. (2 Nephi 2:6–7; emphasis added.)
The grace of Christ’s Atonement is for those who offer broken hearts to Him. The “ends of the law,” the gifts of forgiveness and redemption, can’t be offered to us unless we have a contrite, repentant, willing heart and spirit. If that is missing, pride is likely “the man [or woman] behind the curtain.”
3. Do we bear the fruits of Spirit?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22–23.)
The qualities of God’s Spirit show us God’s nature and qualities. If we’re not in love with His qualities, we’re probably not in love with Him. When these qualities are absent, light and truth, or the perception of them, are absent as well.
Different Motives than Advertised
If we don’t have or have lost these Christ-like qualities, there’s a chance we have different motivations than advertised or we may have hidden desires to set aside the truth so we can pursue other paths. I’m not talking about the honest, sincere, open but struggling questioner. I’m speaking of a different type of seeker.
If there are commandments we don’t want to obey or standards we don’t want to uphold, we sometimes find a way to make it okay to not obey. If we’re resolving our doubts with humility, with a willing, open heart, with heaven-searching eyes, and with the guidance of the Spirit, we’ll also be inclined to obey. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it’s a struggle. But God’s promises are absolutely reliable. His answers are already there. We just have to find out for ourselves how to find and understand them.
The Spirit of the Accuser
I have plenty of weaknesses, but I want to obey and continue to discover truth. One thing I do know for certain is the difference between darkness and light, between those who are Christlike or attempting to be, and those who are not Christlike.
You may know this already: The word devil comes from the Greek diablos which means “slanderer” or “accuser.” The apostle John calls Satan “the accuser of our brethren” (Revelation 12:10). In my mind, he’s a disbarred attorney now representing the opposition party. This is not like Christ.
If anyone is coming after you and your faith with a pointed finger, accusations, mockery, and is belittling you and your beliefs, please consider the previous paragraph as a possible source for those behaviors, conscious or not. You have no obligation to listen to or follow someone who is not striving to be like Christ.
Back Pocket Scriptures
Throughout my adult life, I’ve kept a couple of scriptures close at hand. I’ll call them back pocket scriptures. They help me clear my mind, be more discerning, and remain in the light.
And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. (Doctrine and Covenants 50:23.)
God says, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), not “let there be darkness.” He uses light to destroy darkness. Darkness can never overcome light. It never will. Darkness can only creep into places where light is absent.
Darkness and light are not friends. They never shake hands. There are places where God reigns and where his rebellious son Lucifer dwells. They don’t spend much time together anymore.
Here’s another few verses that have stuck with me since the season when I was first assailed by persecution in my youth. They’re from our Savior:
For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away. (3 Nephi 11:29–30; emphasis added.)
I try to steer clear of contention because Christ has asked us to to steer clear of it, for “only by pride cometh contention. . . .” (Proverbs 13:10; emphasis added).
Also, I’ve treasured these words since I memorized them when I was teenager:
Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not. (Doctrine and Covenants 6:36.)
When I remember these words, I know what I need to do to get answers. The Savior will never fail us if we approach Him in the the way He’s asked us to approach Him, looking to Him always and setting our doubts and fears aside.
Finally, let’s end with a few words from Moroni:
And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness. (Ether 12:26; emphasis added.)
If you have mockers on every side but you still long for and seek the meekness of Christ, you’ll have God’s unfailing grace to help you.
You’ll know what to do. You’ll know what to say. You’ll have remarkably clear answers. And, you’ll have peace of mind and heart, in spite of earth and hell.