This morning I was listening to Elder Bednar’s previous conference address, “The Spirit of Revelation.” Absolutely superb talk! He spoke of the revelation and inspiration we receive from the spirit, and the many different ways it can be received.
A light turned on in a dark room is like receiving a message from God quickly, completely, and all at once. Many of us have experienced this pattern of revelation as we have been given answers to sincere prayers or been provided with needed direction or protection, according to God’s will and timing. Descriptions of such immediate and intense manifestations are found in the scriptures, recounted in Church history, and evidenced in our own lives. Indeed, these mighty miracles do occur. However, this pattern of revelation tends to be more rare than common.
The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God “line upon line, precept upon precept” (2 Nephi 28:30). Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness, and preparation. Such communications from Heavenly Father gradually and gently “distill upon [our souls] as the dews from heaven” (D&C 121:45). This pattern of revelation tends to be more common than rare and is evident in the experiences of Nephi as he tried several different approaches before successfully obtaining the plates of brass from Laban (see 1 Nephi 3–4). Ultimately, he was led by the Spirit to Jerusalem, “not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do” (1 Nephi 4:6). And he did not learn how to build a ship of curious workmanship all at one time; rather, Nephi was shown by the Lord “from time to time after what manner [he] should work the timbers of the ship” (1 Nephi 18:1).
Then Elder Bednar shared some examples of members of the church receiving revelation in this manner. He then said that we as members of the church have a good time talking about all the big and grand gestures the Spirit has made in the lives of others. We often “fail to appreciate and may even overlook the customary pattern by which the Holy Ghost accomplishes His work.” Then he asked if we ever felt like we weren’t quite getting the inspiration we should or if we, “underestimate (our) spiritual capacity because (we) do not receive frequent, miraculous, or strong impressions.”
I immediately thought of the most common issue I face in Mormon Matchmaking. I thought of the many well intended singles who -because they didn’t receive a vision of their eternal spouse on their first date- decide not to move forward in dating that individual. Yeah- you might think I’m exaggerating but believe me…it’s for sure the most common complaint I hear in regards to dating.
If immediate fireworks aren’t bursting, passion isn’t craved, or chemistry isn’t felt a lot of singles take it as THE reason not to continue on. But I wonder…have they had miraculous and divine intervention on every other brand new endeavor they’ve begun in the past? Why in the world does a first date, or first meeting of someone of the opposite sex get that kind of bar to live up to? We are promised at baptism that the spirit can ALWAYS be with us, not only at times of miraculous and obvious divine intervention.
Admitted or not LDS singles are sizing up each other way too prematurely! And LDS singles are relying way too much on the Lord to do the work for them. Yes, I think a potential marriage partner should be prayed about. Yes, I think the Lord can help us to know if our choice is a wise one. But when that kind of pressure-filled sizing up is done on the first bit of getting to know someone we are pulling a ‘Brother of Jared’ move (Ether 2-3). The Lord wants…and expects us to use our own mind and intellect to make choices and then He will come in on His part. As we make good decisions in dating we need to realize that the revelation is actually happening! We will be led to make that all important decision in the end as we live worthy to receive daily guidance to that point.
In many of the uncertainties and challenges we encounter in our lives, God requires us to do our best, to act and not be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:26), and to trust in Him. We may not see angels, hear heavenly voices, or receive overwhelming spiritual impressions. We frequently may press forward hoping and praying—but without absolute assurance—that we are acting in accordance with God’s will. But as we honor our covenants and keep the commandments, as we strive ever more consistently to do good and to become better, we can walk with the confidence that God will guide our steps. And we can speak with the assurance that God will inspire our utterances. This is in part the meaning of the scripture that declares, “Then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God” (D&C 121:45).
Let it happen line upon line, date after date!