Sunday, June 23, 2013

Farewell talk Rhys

Hola, buenos dias. El nino esta saltando. For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, I’ll translate. Hello, good day, the boy is jumping. As you all are witness to, I am well on my way to becoming a Spanish genius and though I don’t ship out for just over a week I’ve been given the opportunity to show off my Spanish skills and speak alongside my sister and my twin. The subject of my monologue this morning is how we receive personal revelation. We all know the word revelation, defined by the Bible dictionary as “meaning to make known or uncover.” The prophets of the Bible and the Book of Mormon have all received divine revelation concerning the Church and its followers. However, each and every person is able to receive personal revelation concerning their own issues or dilemmas. All it can take to receive personal revelation sometimes, is to ask. I’ve heard plenty of times before the excuse that there are so many people in the world - seriously, a lot - that Heavenly Father can’t think it important to worry over any single person’s problems. But, as a very old and very wise man once said, “. . . nine hundred years of time and space and I've never met anybody who wasn't important before.”
Concerning my own personal revelation, I could not have asked for a more painfully ironic experience while writing my talk even if I had wanted to. Agonizing for hours on end over a single talk about personal revelation, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to get going and just write this darn thing. I won’t embarrass myself further by divulging just how long it took me to come up with my brilliant plan of how to get help writing the talk on personal revelation.  An old poster I have branded on my brain from seeing every morning in seminary for four years says, “When you want to speak to God, pray. When you want God to speak to you, read the scriptures.” This poster changed the way I receive personal revelation, I always begin scripture study with a prayer in which I ask questions I may need to know the answer to or simply want to know the answer to. After hours of agonizing over a single talk, the thought of this poster smacked me into talk writing mode and I prayed and studied before sitting back down to write.
This isn’t how I’ve always done scripture study, before I ever saw that poster I never took scripture study quite as seriously. Oftentimes in my rebellious, polo-shirted, and high-fastening-pants youth, all it took was a prayer. I remember one such occasion when a younger brother got a large piece of meat stuck in his throat. My parents were helping him calm down and breathe while considering how they were going to rid him of this horridly oversized piece of meat. I was worried about my brother and decided to get down on my knees and pray that he would be alright and at the same time worrying that I wasn’t helping. There wasn’t a voice that commanded me to shove my hand down my brother’s throat and heroically dislodge the meat as I had partially expected, but there was a small voice--my own voice in my head telling me to get off my butt and go see what my dad needed. I hurried down the hall and into my parents bedroom where I immediately heard my dad ask for a can of soda. This was an odd request, for those of you who don’t know, my dad has never actually been particularly fond of soda and the only reason we actually had some in the house was that Dad had brought home extra cans from a school event that week. I rushed to get a soda and planted it in my dad’s hand and he proceeded to open the can and start helping my brother drink the soda. My first thought was that we were going to make him drink as much soda as possible, shake him up, and watch as the soda shot back up through his throat and clearing it of all offending meat. There was no spraying soda show as I had pictured, Dad simply fed him a little bit of soda at a time until it succeed in dissolving the meat to a small enough size that he could swallow it. Needless to say, I was a little disappointed at the lack of spectacle, but It was a really good thing that my dad was in charge and not me.
Prayer can be a great source of revelation, has been, and can always be relied on for assistance, and to guide a person where God needs them most. In 1 Nephi, we read the story of a family living in Jerusalem and led by a righteous man named Lehi. Lehi is an excellent example of a father using personal revelation to help him guide and lead his family. In chapter one of 1 Nephi, Lehi moves his family out of Jerusalem due to the expiration date on the city that he recently learned about through personal revelation. Chapter 1 verses five and six of 1 Nephi reads, “Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people. And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much; and because of the things which he saw and heard he did quake and tremble exceedingly.” After this, Lehi goes to sleep and has a dream in which he is warned of the destruction of Jerusalem. Though Lehi warns the people of Jerusalem of their impending doom few, if any, heed his words and he ends up taking his family away, with much grumbling and murmuring from Laman and Lemuel. The first book in the Book of Mormon is filled with moments like this. Whenever Lehi is struggling he will always pray for revelation to guide him and more often than not  will have a trippy dream that answers his prayers.  Cue Laman and Lemuel murmuring.
I cannot honestly tell of a single dream I’ve had which has answered a prayer of mine, other than a few in which I’ve been able to fly. While I was younger I would always feel a prompting after a prayer that I always knew must be an answer. But, as I grew older, I was always less and less certain of what was an answer and what was just a passing thought or feeling. This was just about up to the point when I started early morning Seminary. It must have been the second day that I first noticed the poster on the wall that read, “If you want to talk to God, pray. If you want God to talk to you, read the scriptures.” A simply-put message that changed how I thought about prayer and scriptures and also led to me using the two together more than I ever had before. I remember one Monday after a long school day in which I heard a lot of Mormon jokes and mormon bashing in my Philosophy class. I hadn’t spoken up, it was just the second week of classes and I didn’t want to draw a lot of attention to myself, but I felt bad that I hadn’t spoken up. That night I read Matthew 7. Verse 7 of chapter 7 reads, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” This verse reminded me of the poster in seminary and prompted me to stop reading, get on my knees, and pray concerning what I should do. Following the prayer, I knew just what I ought to do. I closed my scriptures and opened them at random and the pages fell open to a page I had marked with a piece of paper from the previous seminary year. Romans 1: 16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” I knew what I had to do. That Wednesday after class, everyone in the class not only knew I was Mormon, but they also had some myths concerning Mormonism busted, horns and arranged marriages immediately following high school among them.
I know I’m not the only one to have received help and guidance from the scriptures. Even before a young fourteen year old Joseph Smith experienced the first vision, a revelation of a much smaller scale peaked his interest. In the early 1800s, Joseph sought to know which of all the churches he had been witness to were true. I’ll read Joseph’s own account of his smaller scale revelation. “While I was laboring under the extreme difficulties caused by the contests of these parties of religionists, I was one day reading the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which reads: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did;” Joseph’s scripture study leads him to actively seek God and eventually led to his first vision. While Joseph receives much of his revelation from God following his prayer, but it started with curiosity and a single verse of scripture.
Few if any of us can claim to have had an experience quite like Joseph Smith’s First Vision, but revelation rarely does come in such heavy doses. More often than not it is a small voice, or simple scripture verse. No matter what the case, revelation is almost like a divine opinion, a path God sets you on. Always stay in tune to the spirit and worthy of revelation, and be prepared to act on that revelation. To quote the lady Galadriel, “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.” Just be prepared so that when it’s your turn, you know what to do, and remember, “If you want to talk to God, pray; if you want God to talk to you, read the scriptures.”

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