Sunday, January 30, 2011

Incremental Revelation


I have learned so much in the last week that I don’t even know where to start. I suppose I’ll start with the temple. Yesterday I went to the Memphis temple to do initiatories and an endowment session. I was especially anxious to spend time in the Celestial room. I had 5 major things I was praying about that I needed direction. I typically sit close to the front so I can get to the celestial room more quickly.  On a side note……I like doing the prayer circle, but as a single woman it is awkward waiting up there all on my lonesome while the leader (or whatever he is called) asks for some poor schmoe to come up there to join me. Brothers, if you see a single sister waiting up there, jump up and join her.  Don’t leave her hanging! End of lecture.

When I got to the celestial room I grabbed some Scriptures and immediately started praying. At some point the burdens overwhelmed me and I started to cry. I laid out the big issues and asked Heavenly Father to lay out for me a plan. He said, “No.”  I said, “What?” He said, “I want to guide you little by little and you want the whole picture.” I said, “Ok.”, but a few minutes later decided to ask again in the hopes that I had misunderstood. Nope. Got the same answer. 

I’ll be honest. I found that disappointing. I wanted some answers! I needed direction. My heart was in a great deal of pain. AND I am confused about some things with regard to the gospel, the Spirit, and discernment. Not to mention the fact that I have so much on the plate, it would save some burden to get a great deal of direction at once. But, I trusted that Heavenly Father had a great reason. That submission was a good idea. It didn’t take long for me to start getting some answers.

The first answer I received was why he wanted to guide me little by little.  I’ve been reading a useful book by Gerald Lund entitled Hearing the Voice of the Lord. He wrote about incremental revelation, using the example of Nephi and the brass plates. Nephi was told to get the plates, but he wasn’t told how. He was kind of left to flounder on his own and figure it out. He made several attempts before having success. In his third attempt he said, “I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. Nevertheless, I went forth.” (I Nephi 4:6-7)

That is how I was feeling. God wants me to do these things, but doesn’t tell me how. Nephi was driven by faith, not knowledge. He had faith in Heavenly Father, therefore he would continue to try and figure out how to do what he was commanded to do. He had the same experience building the ship for their trip to the Americas. I Nephi 18:1 said he was given directions on how to build the ship, “from time to time”. I thought about that for a moment and it occurred to me that if the Lord had given him all the direction at once, he wouldn’t have been able to handle it.

Let’s look at the example of getting the plates from Laban. The Lord knew that Nephi was going to have to kill Laban to get those plates. But, if he told that to Nephi, Nephi might have spent his entire life wondering in false guilt whether or not there was anything else he could have done to get those plates back and spare Laban’s life. Therefore, the Lord let him attempt diplomacy first and learn for himself there was only one solution. How merciful of God!

Using the example of the ship, it is easy to see the need for incremental revelation. If Heavenly Father told me to build a car and gave me all the directions at once, I can guarantee at the end of my building, we would NOT have a car. Sometimes in His wisdom, He gives the direction we need, as we need it. I’m now not as disappointed with the idea.

The next thing I learned, was also confirmed to me more solidly in my reading. I was struggling with a wrong committed by someone. I couldn’t understand why the Lord was seemingly ignoring it. However, the Lord whispered to my heart that maybe He isn’t ignoring it, but giving others another learning opportunity.

I wondered about that, but wasn’t sure if I understood the Spirit correctly. Then I read something that confirmed it to me. While writing about Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail, Gerald Lund made the following observation: 

“But here is another lesson to learn from that experience. While Joseph was in jail all that time, the challenge of leading and exodus of thousands of Saints to safety in the dead of winter fell to the two senior Apostles, Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball. These were the very two men on whom would fall the task just eight years later of leading the Saints across more than a thousand miles of wilderness to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. How’s that for “in service training”?

Often while we are undergoing our own learning experience, the Lord may be accomplishing His purposes with other people and in other settings. This is why it is foolish to think that we can fathom with our finite perspective the infinite and eternal purposes of God.”

Well, there is tons more that I learned this week that will have to wait.  There are little people who want me to come to their “club” meeting. Apparently it is time for my membership interview. I am one lucky mom.


Kimberly said...

Beautiful post. Somehow I never think of Nephi as struggling, I always imagine him having it all together, so it was good to be reminded that he too had to struggle and work while being slowly guided.

Anonymous said...

I am quite surprised that you would share such personal spiritual insights on such a public forum. I heard once that if you do share something so sacred as a private revelation that is obviously specifically meant for you, especially one that you receive in the temple, no less one that you receive in the Celestial Room, that the spirit will not give you those experiences as often. Perhaps using a private personal journal would be a better format for your thoughts.

rene.clark said...

I do not agree with Anonymous! Sharing your testimony is a good thing. Listen to the spirit, it will tell you what to share and not share.

You are one special person. (I have never met you and only found you after your story appeared on Meridian Magazine.) I have been a member of the church all my life (I'm 57) and I know that we benefit when you share. You cannot know the impact that your stories have been having in my life, and I am sure others. I have much to learn from you and hope to continue to learn. Your honesty and straight forward candor are what I find so refreshing. I look forward to the day when you decide to write your own book. I hope you keep writing, I for one anxiously look forward to every new post. You are helping me to look at the Gospel with a new perspective.

You are truly an amazing woman whose viewpoint I value. The spirit will tell you what to write or not, I hope you do not feel like you have done anything wrong. President Monson encourages us to share the Gospel with our blogs and our posts. You can trust your heart to tell you what is right to share.

Annmarie Worthington said...

Thank you, Kimberly and Rene. Your words are genuinely encouraging to me.

Anonymous,my blog is where I think through things and flesh out thoughts I've been having. Though I am always surprised when people find it helpful,I feel useful when some do. I've often shared things the Spirit has told me, though some very sacred experiences I've told no one, and as He continues to speak I will go on the assumption the Spirit is not offended. Surely if He was, He would be merciul enough to let me know so I do not offend Him again. If I've offended you in some manner, please feel free to email me privately and we can discuss it. My email is

alison said...

I whole-heartedly agree that others can learn from our own testimonies and personal experiences. With that being said, I also agree with "anonymous". Some experiences, especially those that involve others, are probably better shared in a more private forum. Blogs are great but sometimes they can cause hurt feelings when others may infer who the "un-named" person is. I hope this is helpful and doesn't come off as preachy. I love you and I am truly inspired by your strength. I thought I would share this talk with you as it might help with some of what you may be going through.

Annmarie Worthington said...

Thank you, Alison. I'm looking forward to reading the talk. Just a cursory glance tells me it will be very helpful.

Michael Brinson said...

I think you're doing it right Annmarie. At the same time I do agree that caution is needed which it seems to me that you have used.

There is a talk by Elder Richard G. Scott that is especially applicable here:

To Learn and Teach More Effectively

Here is a small quote from that talk that I think is applicable here:
Have you learned the enduring value of keeping a journal of the very important spiritual experiences or sacred impressions that the Lord has communicated to you? I do not keep a detailed journal of all the events each day, but I try to keep record of some very important matters. The spiritual ones are in a sacred password-protected journal that no one else can access. When I feel authorized by the Holy Ghost, I take some of the truths learned and put them in my family journal or share them in a public message. This is consistent with a principle that the scriptures confirm is true. Some personal matters are for our guidance and edification to help us grow and improve our character, our devotion, and our testimony. These things are not intended for other individuals. Much like a patriarchal blessing is tailored for the person to whom it is given, such matters should be kept reverently protected because of their inherent sacred nature. Any sacred matter that the Lord wants others to know, He can communicate to them directly through the Spirit if they are worthy and in tune.

(This is the full version of the talk that he gave at BYU during campus education week. He subsequently gave a condensed version of that talk in the november, 2009 ensign called "To Acquire Spiritual Guidance")

Thanks for sharing all of the insights that the Spirit has authorized you to share Annmarie. It definitely has and will continue to bless many lives.