As I have been studying the restoration in preparation for next week’s general conference I have learned a ton of new stuff I hadn’t know or hadn’t realized before. It’s also given me a knew perspective on a lot of what happened in the very beginning in organizing this church. One of the biggest things that has stuck out to me, to quote David Butler, “the restoration is about personal connection and relationship with God”. (If you watch that video I linked he starts talking about this at about the 50 second mark.)
That means that the restoration of the Gospel on the earth happened so that people could again learn about the nature of God and develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. So that they could feel more comfortable going to him for help and so that earthly families could eventually be all connected together as children of God. The restoration of the Gospel is personal for each of us.
To me, one of the most wonderful things about Heavenly Father is that He knows we’re going to mess things up but he lets us try anyway. We are given the responsibility to raise children and take care of each other and to hold callings. All of these things are for our very own benefit. I have a little example. It’s like the first time I let Ryan try making eggs. I knew it wouldn’t be pretty and maybe not even delicious. I also knew that the pan was going to need a good scrub and probably the stove too. Even though I knew all of that I let him try over and over until he became the master egg chef he is today. If any of you are looking for someone to cook them eggs, Ryan is your guy.
We can see that example in the story of Joseph going to get the plates from the hill Cumorah. 3 times Moroni sent him up that hill. It took 3 years until he was fully ready to bring them down the hill. I’m pretty sure that Heavenly Father knew how things were going to go but he sent Joseph anyway. (See Saints, Volume 1, page 26)
The first year before he goes up the hill he was told you can’t use the gold plates to get money for your family. When he opens the place where the plates are hidden he has one thought about possibly selling the plates and his hand is shocked at least 3 times as he tries to retrieve them. He never even got to touch them. Moroni tells him to try again next year.
The next year before he goes up the hill he is told to not let the plates out of his sight. He takes them out and places them on the ground behind him so he can see what else is in the place where the plates were stored and maybe hide those things a little better. Immediately theplates are taken away from him.
The third year He was told to bring the right person with him which was his new wife Emma. This time he was prepared. He hid the plates in several different places to keep them safe until he could get a lockbox to keep them in.
Over these three years a lot happened and Joseph did a lot of growing. He also learned about exact obedience and something about what would be required of him by Heavenly Father. Some of those lessons he probably wouldn’t have learned if he hadn’t gone up that hill and failed in his assignment.
He also didn’t give up. I have been thinking about that a lot. Can you imagine failing at something and someone saying to you that you can’t try again for a whole year? A year goes by and you completely fail again. It might be so easy to just say I’m not good enough. I’ll never be able to do it. It’s not going to happen and just walk away. Joseph didn’t. He went back a third time and was successful. I imagine how nervous and worried Joseph must have felt that third year. It had been so long and he had already been reprimanded twice before when he was trying to accomplish the task. But he went anyway. I also imagine the joy he felt when he was finally able to complete this one errand.
Anyway, if you pay attention to the stories contained in the Doctrine and Covenants you can see that Heavenly Father gave all of the people involved in the beginning of the restoration lots of chances and also lots of learning opportunities. None of it was easy but through the struggles and hardship there were also so many blessings and miracles occurring.
Before we were asked to stay in our houses to avoid getting ourselves or others sick we were all struggling with something. This new situation didn’t take those other struggles away but I am hoping that we are seeing blessings in our lives at the same time we are moving through these difficulties. Spend a couple more minutes in the scriptures each day, spend a few more minutes on your knees maybe just listening. Reach out to those you are assigned to minister to. Talk to your kids about all of the blessings we have even in this unusual time. I read something somewhere that talked about God’s economy being different than man’s economy because in God’s economy the more you give away the more that is returned to you. I can’t find the source now but Proverbs 11:24-25 tell us that same thing. Knowing that means we need to stop looking inward and look outward to the people who might need us and try to meet that need however we can. When we start to do that we will feel more joy and also more peace which is something I think we all need right now.