"If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from the pinnacle of this temple."
...The temptation here is even more subtle than the first. It is a temptation of the spirit, of a private hunger more real than the need for bread. Would God save him? Would he? Is Jesus to have divine companionship in this awesome ministry he now begins? He knows that among the children of men only suffering, denunciation, betrayal, and rejection lie ahead. But what about heaven? How alone does a Messiah have to be? Perhaps before venturing forth he ought to get final reassurance. And shouldn't Satan be silenced with his insidious "If, if, if"? Why not get spiritual confirmation, a loyal congregation, and an answer to this imp who heckles--all with one appeal to God's power? Right now. The easy way. Off the temple spire.
But Jesus refuses the temptation of the spirit. Denial and restraint there are also part of divine preparation. He will gain followers, and he will receive reassurance. But not this way. Neither the converts nor the comforts he will so richly deserve have been earned yet. His ministry has hardly begun. The rewards will come by and by. But even the Son of God must wait. The Redeemer who would never bestow cheap grace on others was not likely to ask for any himself.
And so I ask you to be patient in things of the spirit. Perhaps your life has been different from mine, but I doubt it. I have had to struggle to know my standing before God. As a teenager I found it hard to pray and harder to fast. My mission was not easy. I struggled as a student only to find that I had to struggle afterwards, too. In this present assignment I have wept and ached for guidance. It seems no worthy accomplishment has ever come easily for me, and maybe it won't for you--but I'm living long enough to be grateful for that.
It is ordained that we come to know our worth as children of God without something as dramatic as a leap from the pinnacle of the temple. All but a prophetic few must go about God's work in very quiet, very unspectacular ways. And as you labor to know him, and to know that he knows you; as you invest your time--and your convenience--in quiet, unassuming service, you will indeed find that "he shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up" (Matthew 4:6). It may not come quickly. It probably won't come quickly, but there is purpose in the time it takes. Cherish your spiritual burdens because God will converse with you through them and will use you to do his work if you carry them well. Do you recognize this struggle? The date is 14 July 1943.
No peace had yet come, though I had prayed for it almost unceasingly. . . . I turned toward the hills. I had no objective. I wanted only to be alone. I had begun a fast. . . .
My weakness overcame me again. Hot tears came flooding down my cheeks as I made no effort to mop them up. I was accusing myself, and condemning myself and upbraiding myself. I was praying aloud for special blessings from the Lord. I was telling him that I had not asked for this position, that I was incapable of doing the work, that I was imperfect and weak and human, that I was unworthy of so noble a calling, though I had tried hard and my heart had been right. I knew that I must have been at least partly responsible for offenses and misunderstandings which a few people fancied they had suffered at my hands. I realized that I had been petty and small many times. I did not spare myself. A thousand things passed through my mind. Was I called by revelation? . . .
If I could only have the assurance that my call had been inspired most of my other worries would be dissipated. . . .I knew that I must have His acceptance before I could go on. I stumbled up the hill and onto the mountain, as the way became rough. I faltered some as the way became steep. No paths were there to follow; I climbed on and on. Never had I prayed before as I now prayed. What I wanted and felt I must have was an assurance that I was acceptable to the Lord. I told Him that I neither wanted nor was worthy of a vision or appearance of angels or any special manifestation. I wanted only the calm peaceful assurance that my offering was accepted. Never before had I been tortured as I was now being tortured. And the assurance did not come. . . .
I mentally beat myself and chastised myself and accused myself. As the sun came up and moved in the sky I moved with it, lying in the sun, and still I received no relief. I sat up on the cliff and strange thoughts came to me: all this anguish and suffering could be ended so easily from this high cliff and then came to my mind the temptations of the Master when he was tempted to cast Himself down--then I was ashamed for having placed myself in a comparable position and trying to be dramatic. . . . I was filled with remorse because I had permitted myself to place myself . . . in a position comparable, in a small degree, to the position the Saviour found Himself in when He was tempted, and . . . I felt I had cheapened the experiences of the Lord, having compared mine with His. Again I challenged myself and told myself that I was only trying to be dramatic and sorry for myself.
. . . I lay on the cool earth. The thought came that I might take cold, but what did it matter now. There was one great desire, to get a testimony of my calling, to know that it was not human and inspired by ulterior motives, kindly as they might be. How I prayed! How I suffered! How I wept! How I struggled! [Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball, Jr., Spencer W. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1977), p. 192–95]
Now at this very hour 38 years and a mountain of tumors and troubles later, this sweet and godly man clings to life notbecause that life has been convenient but because he feels there might be one more mountain to climb, one more obstacle of body or spirit that needs to be overcome. The spiritual odyssey of Andrew Kimball's son has been anything but easy. And maybe that of your father's son or your mother's daughter will require patience and perseverance too.
So if your prayers don't always seem answered, take heart. One greater than you or President Kimball cried, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46). If for a while the harder you try, the harder it gets, take heart. So it has been with the best people who ever lived.
That happens in marriages, too, and in the other relationships we have. I can't tell you the number of couples I have counseled who, when they are deeply hurt or even just deeply stressed, reach farther and farther into the past to find yet a bigger brick to throw through the window "pain" of their marriage. When something is over and done with, when it has been repented of as fully as it can be repented of, when life has moved on as it should and a lot of other wonderfully good things have happened since then, it is not right to go back and open up some ancient wound which the Son of God Himself died trying to heal. Let people repent. Let people grow. Believe that people can change, and improve. Is that faith? Yes! Is it hope? Yes! Is it charity? Yes! Above all it is charity, the pure love of Christ. If something is buried in the past, leave it buried. Don't keep going back with your little sand pail and beach shovel to dig it up, wave it around, and then throw it at someone saying, "Hey! Do you remember this?" Splat! Well, guess what? That is probably going to result in some ugly morsel being dug up out of your landfill with the reply, "Yeah, I remember it. Do you remember this?" Splat. And everyone comes out of that exchange dirty and muddy and unhappy and hurt, when what our Father in Heaven pleads for is cleanliness and kindness and happiness and healing.
Via Dolorosa (Latin for "Way of Grief" or "Way of Suffering") is a street in the Old City of Jerusalem. Traditionally, it is held to be the path that Jesus walked, carrying his cross, on the way to his crucifixion. It is marked by nine of the fourteen Stations of the Cross. The last five stations are inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It is a focus of pilgrimage.
You will need information, too, but in matters of great consequence it is not likely to come unless you want it urgently, faithfully, humbly. Moroni calls it seeking "with real intent" (Moroni 10:4). If you can seek that way, and stay in that mode, not much that the adversary can counter with will dissuade you from a righteous path. You can hang on, whatever the assault and affliction, because you have paid the price to--figuratively, at least--see the face of God and live.
But I wept. I could not stop. And it wasn't homesickness. I've known homesickness. It wasn't the euphoria of the moment. I'd known euphoria and despair. ... It wasn't that. I'd had all those experiences. It was a declaration to my soul that this book was divine; that this was true; that God lived and loved us, and Jesus was the Christ, and prophets really were prophets, and it really did matter what you did in life, and heaven really did care. And I just wept.
When Joseph Smith saw [God and Jesus], he saw embodied beings. He saw men the way you and I would see men, with all the biblical features, the way Moses said he saw them, with eyes and ears and hands and faces. And behind that is the great humanity of such men: hearts. ... So we are unequivocal in our declaration that Joseph Smith saw beings, glorified and beyond description, not looking like I look to you -- thank heavens -- but nevertheless embodied, with arms and fingers that touch, and the same finger that Moses saw write those tablets, yes.
I've thought about it a lot, read it often. ... I wrote a book about the Book of Mormon, partly just because I wanted my own conviction, my testimony, to be in print, even if only for my children's sake. I dismiss out of hand the early criticism that somehow this was a book that Joseph Smith wrote. The only thing more miraculous than an angel providing him with those plates and him translating them by divine inspiration would be that he sat down and wrote it with a ballpoint pen and a spiral notebook. There is no way, in my mind, with my understanding of his circumstances, his education, ... [he] could have written that book. My fourth great-grandfather -- this goes back to my mother's pioneer side of the family -- said when he heard of the Book of Mormon in England, he walked away from the service saying no good man would have written that, and no bad man could have written it. And for me, that's still the position.
So I disregard the idea that Joseph Smith could have written it. I certainly disregard that somebody more articulate or more experienced in ecclesiastical matters could have written it, like [Smith's close friend and adviser] Sidney Rigdon. Rigdon doesn't even come to the church until the Book of Mormon is out and in circulation for eight or nine months. ...
“We are adamantly not another Protestant religion. But what I don't like ... is the personal antagonism and where otherwise wonderful people can go to dinner together ... have kids on the soccer team together ... and then, when it comes to religion, just start throwing fists.”
Now, in terms of more modern theories, there are those who say it's more mythical literature and spiritual, and not literal. That doesn't work for me. I don't understand that, and I can't go very far with that, because Joseph Smith said there were plates, and he said there was an angel. And if there weren't plates and there wasn't an angel, I have a bigger problem than whether the Book of Mormon is rich literature. ... I have to go with what the prophet said about the book, about its origins, about the literalness of the plates, the literalness of the vision -- and then the product speaks for itself.
I don't think we're through examining the depth, the richness, the profundity, the complexity, all of the literary and historical and religious issues that go into that book. I think we're still young at doing that. But the origins for me are the origins that the prophet Joseph said: a set of plates, given by an angel, translated by the gift and power of God.
"The day appointed for the departure of the Elders to England having arrived, I [stopped at] the house of Brother [Heber C.] Kimball to ascertain when he would start [on his journey], as I expected to accompany him two or three hundred miles, intending to spend my labors in Canada that season.
"The door being partly open, I entered and felt struck with the sight which presented itself to my view. I would have retired, thinking that I was intruding, but I felt riveted to the spot. The father was pouring out his soul to . . . [God, pleading] that He who 'careth for sparrows, and feedeth the young ravens when they cry' would supply the wants of his wife and little ones in his absence. He then, like the patriarchs, and by virtue of his office, laid his hands upon their heads individually, leaving a father's blessing upon them, . . . commending them to the care and protection of God, while he should be engaged preaching the Gospel in a foreign land. While thus engaged [in giving those blessings] his voice was almost lost in the sobs of those around [him], who [were trying in their youthful way to be strong but having a very hard time doing so.] . . . He proceeded, but his heart was too much affected to do so regularly. . . . He was obliged to stop at intervals, while . . . big tears rolled down his cheeks, an index to the feelings which reigned in his bosom. My heart was not stout enough to refrain," said Brother Thompson. "In spite of myself I wept, and mingled my tears with theirs. At the same time I felt thankful that I had the privilege of contemplating such a scene."
That scene has been reenacted one way or another a thousand times, a hundred thousand times, in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—a fear, a need, a call, a danger, a sickness, an accident, a death. I have been a participant in such moments. I have beheld the power of God manifest in my home and in my ministry. I have seen evil rebuked and the elements controlled. I know what it means to have mountains of difficulty move and ominous Red Seas part. I know what it means to have the destroying angel "pass by them." To have received the authority and to have exercised the power of "the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God," is as great a blessing for me and for my family as I could ever hope for in this world. And that, in the end, is the meaning of the priesthood in everyday terms—its unequaled, unending, constant capacity to bless.
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