Just last night my dear wife sat beside me on the bed and asked me how my day was. I told her I spent most of it repenting and wishing I could be stronger and do more. I feel trapped inside a broken down body, and handicapped by the fact that I nearly always feel sick. The sicker I feel, the harder it is for me to feel and live in the Spirit. When I was younger, a small thought, or devotional feeling could trigger powerful flows of the Spirit, long, wonderful prayers, and inspired writing. Now days, I have to work and struggle to feel spiritually alive.
She thought for a moment and said, “These are just the mists of darkness. You have your hand firmly upon the iron rod, and you are going forward with every ounce of energy you possess. What more could you do?”
I thought about her reply for a moment. I had never considered physical pain and sickness as a mist of darkness. But, for me, it plainly is. It limits my spiritual sight, and inhibits my growth. It makes everything I want to do harder, and even harder to feel the Lord’s guidance.
I am so grateful she said that, because trials and opposition, which the mists of darkness represent so well, aren’t something we are doing wrong – they are ordained of God, and important to our progress.
Chris asked yesterday if there was more opposition than ease, and when the blessings finally come, does it feel like it gives enough payoff to keep you going? Is there rest between the trials, or do they just keep coming stronger and stronger still, until we feel defeated?
My answer is this, I still remember the first time I had a visionary experience, and that one experience gave me enough hope and enough fuel, and enough “payoff” to fuel my hope for the remainder of my mortal life. But, it wasn’t the last. The grace of God has poured out over my soul as a window opened into heaven, a steady, cleansing and beautifying view of eternal things so glorious that any one of them would fuel my desire forever.
Even during the trials, joy has been my steady diet. Even during the loss, during persecution and insurmountable obstacles, I have never felt alone, or abandoned, or lost. Even with my eyes full of tears, and my heart broken, I still felt endowed with truth, light and power. And there has never been a moment when some component of joy has not filled my being.
If one only looks at the possible struggle we might endure by seeking great things, it is not a place a reasonable man would go. Our natural man impulse is to walk away from a forest fire, not into it. But, once the reasonable man sees the miracles flow from inspired obedience, and empowered priesthood, once he feels the fire within, hears the words of eternal life, and has Jesus Christ himself as your comforter, then no forest fire seems dangerous or frightening ever again.
There really is Balm of Gilead, and there really is vast compensation for this mortal life of righteous obedience, and there is joy which surpasses the understanding of man in the hear-and-now, in this life, in this moment.
I testify and praise God that it is so.
© July 2011, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.