My favorite thing about this week's lesson is the transformation we see in Peter. Just weeks ago (and even in real time, it has only been about 50 days) we saw Peter deny even knowing the Savior. Now, here he is, boldly testifying and teaching with no regard for the consequences that might follow.
I love the story of Peter and John healing the crippled man and wanted to share both the Bible Video of the story and the video by John Hilton III about the miracle that didn't happen here together.
It truly was a huge miracle that so many witnessed this event and the miracles at the Day of Pentecost and then came forward to be baptized. However, miracles don't always lead to conversion. There is a story told from George A. Smith about a miracle that happened on his mission:
George A. Smith was not quite 19 years old when he was called on his second mission. He met a man named William Rood that loved what George was teaching him, but he was unwilling to be baptized.
"If I could see one person healed, I'd join with all my heart." he said. He went on to tell George, "I will become a missionary until the day I die."
A week later George was called on to administer to a dying child and the doctor could do no more to help him. The mother, who was also not a member, finally relented to let the elders come and give him a blessing. George blessed the child and left, not knowing that William Rood was present for the blessing. A few days later when he met with William Rood, Rood told him that he had witnessed the miracle.
"I hid myself behind the curtain when you blessed the boy. You hadn't passed the gate until the child got up and called for food."
"Are you read to receive the gospel like you promised?" George asked.
"If only I knew the devil did not perform it, I would receive the work." Rood replied.
The mother of the dying child was later baptized. George disappointedly learned from this experience that miracles could not be counted on to convert.
I have had many times in my life where I've waited on a miracle that never seemed to come only to find later that there was a reason I needed to wait. I love this video because it shows me again how the Lord's timing is always perfect:
I shared some stories in my email this week about my own personal testimony of the Holy Ghost and how having this gift has changed my life.
One of my favorite stories from the Restoration is the events that transpired in the Kirtland temple. As I read about the original Day of Pentecost, I couldn't help but compare the two. Most of us will never witness something like this in our lifetime, but that's okay.
The true gift of the Holy Ghost comes quietly, like the whisper that we hear as he guides as. Since the gift of the Holy Ghost is the pinnacle of the story, in truth, we all experience it in our own way.
In my weekly email I talked a bit about this excerpt from the book Faith is Not Blind by Bruce C. and Marie Hafen. I loved the book and highly recommend it. I would also recommend getting a journaling edition if you buy it, because I appreciated the extra space for notes!
The story of the outpouring of the Spirit that happened in the Kirtland Temple is such an amazing story and has so many similarities in what happened on the original Day of Pentecost, including what eventually came afterwards when persecutions began that I wanted to share this particular story with this lesson. If you'd like a printable copy, you can grab one in the Resource Library Freebies Vault.
(an excerpt from Faith is Not Blind by Bruce C. and Marie Hafen)
The Kirtland and Nauvoo periods of Church history were each filled with a distinctive blend of astounding blessings and chilling opposition…
The early Kirtland years were unusually happy ones for Joseph Smith and the Saints. Wonderful events had blessed them in only a few years—the vision in the grove, the publication of the Book of Mormon, the organization of the Church, the optimistic launching of missionary work, the School of the Prophets, and mighty revelations outlining a glorious future. It was a youthful, buoyant time. The Saints had barely begun to sense what could yet await them, coiled like a deadly snake, just around the corner of history; mobs, persecution, apostasy and martyrdom.
But first the angels came. Indeed, the dedication of the Kirtland temple in March of 1836 was probably the greatest single spiritual outpouring in modern Church history. Joseph wrote that just after the dedicatory prayer, “Fredrick G. Williams arose and testified that during the prayer an angel entered the window and took his seat between Father Smith and himself. David Whitmer also saw angels in the house.”
Later, “Brother George A. Smith arose and began to prophesy when a noise was heard like the sound of a rushing mighty wind, which filled the Temple, and all the congregation simultaneously arose, being moved upon by an invisible power; many began to speak in tongues and prophesy;…and I beheld that the Temple was filled with angels…The people of the neighborhood came running together (hearing an unusual sound within, and seeing a bright light like a pillar of fire resting upon the Temple) and were astonished at what was taking place.
Joseph said that at a concluding meeting, “The Savior made his appearance to some, while angels ministered to others, and it was a Pentecost and an endowment indeed, long to be remembered, for the sound shall go forth from this place into all the world, and occurrences of this day shall be handed down upon the pages of sacred history, to all generations.”
Now contrast these glorious experiences with the dreadful conditions surrounding the Nauvoo Temple dedication just nine years later. Joseph and Hyrum had been slain. The Church was racked with dissension and apostasy, and the dark spirit of the martyrdom hovered over Nauvoo like the destroying angel of death. The Saints knew they couldn’t stay. They worked frantically to finish the temple, even as they also prepared for their fearful westward trek.
Part of the Nauvoo temple was dedicated in October 1845, even before the building was finished, and in December Brigham Young began to administer the temple ordinances day and night. Within two months, the first company of wagons crossed the frozen Mississippi, never to return.
The story is told of a blind convert names Brother Williams who came from Massachusetts to Nauvoo in time to help complete the temple. Brother Williams had heard the stories of Kirtland, and he believed fervently that when the Nauvoo Temple was dedicated, the Savior and even the resurrected Joseph would return. He anticipated great spiritual manifestations that would heal his blindness. He believed that each stone they were laying brought him one step closer to the Savior’s healing hand. But the Nauvoo Temple dedication was no Kirtland. There were no recorded visible manifestations, no angelic ministries, no Pentecost.
Our youthful years as missionaries and students are, despite their typical growing pains, frequently a kind of Kirtland for us; a simple and beautiful time, filled with intellectual breakthroughs, private spiritual moments, and emerging idealistic convictions. Those years may lift us for a time above the noise and confusion of worldly valleys to a high mountain peak, where we develop a growing closeness to the Infinite. But the day of complexity always seems to come—a day when we must descend our mountains and leave our Kirtlands.
When we do, sooner or later, we may have our own disruptive kind of Nauvoo, perhaps more than once. We will have our own frozen rivers and parched deserts to cross, a moral or intellectual or spiritual wilderness to tame. Perhaps we will feel bewildered and disappointed, and we may look back longingly, wondering how to recapture our youthful Kirtland years.
When our Nauvoo comes, we might feel the waning of our sense of spiritual wonder, as the accumulating pressures and pollutions of life seem to cast doubt on the reality of inspiration or the worth of the Institutional Church or the value of giving ourselves unselfishly to others. Some of our friends, or some of our foes, may alarm us with reports that this or that element of Church history or doctrine isn’t what we thought it was.
When our Nauvoo comes, we may find ourselves living in a culture that offers little reinforcement for our belief in the ideals of family life. The surrounding environment may attack our devotion to marriage and children. Some of us may begin to feel a growing sense of distance in our marriages as those around us take for granted that modern men and women should not feel bound by unconditional family commitments. But we will know better, for we once lived in Kirtland, where the Spirit whispered to us that the doctrine is true; marriage is sacred and love is forever.
When our Nauvoo comes, we might turn away in sadness, feeling that perhaps our earlier Kirtland-like moments must not have been what we thought they were. “How could those stories be true?” some will ask. “We see no angels here, not now, when we need them most. What happened at Kirtland must have been the foolish imagination of our youth.” We may feel pressure to see thing this way, perhaps surrounded by those who whisper tauntingly in our ears as did the enemy in Nauvoo, “Your prophet is dead. Wake up—it was all a childhood dream.”
When our Nauvoo comes, it will neither surprise us nor throw us off course if we have kept the image of Kirtland burning brightly in our memories. It is all right, we will say, we understand. “Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes…the designs of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter…For after much tribulation come the blessings.” A new and deeper simplicity—that for which we long—can come to us only after our season of complexity.
So we will pick up our wagons and our families and head west. As we do, we will sense that Kirtland was given to us as a first witness, to be told to our children and their children’s children, that they may know that God is the Lord. He slumbers not nor sleeps. We will know that, always, for we were there for that joyful season in the Kirtland village.
Moreover, our memories of Kirtland can be enriched by our later, perhaps more turbulent, experience. The very meaning of our earlier witnesses will grow richer with the perspective of both time and complexity. We ventured to Nauvoo because of what we saw in Kirtland. That we once saw so clearly is our witness that we can again see clearly, now with even greater depth, in the very midst of—or perhaps because of—our afflictions.
After all, the angels are there. And someday, perhaps not so far away in time or space, we might be prepared enough and have enough reason to see the angels of Kirtland once more.