This week’s lesson is on the First Vision; something we’ve all heard about and discussed about a million times, literally. It’s a huge part of the foundation of our Mormon faith; we believe, literally, that a 14-year-old boy, knelt in a grove of trees to ask God which church he should join. We believe that God answered that prayer in a miraculous way, appearing to this boy in His flesh, not just God the Son, but also God the Father. It’s an amazing thing, really, and many of the world would scoff at such faith but this vision is a pivotal part of our beliefs.
I’ve been pondering over this assignment and found myself drawn again and again to one of the questions in the study guide: “What are some of the truths we can learn from the First Vision?”
Clearly, we learn about God and Jesus looking quite alike, having real, tangible bodies. We learn that they answer prayers and we learn that the fullnes of the gospel needed to be restored. But what else is there?
I think that as a group of people, called to be one, it is important that we have a united history. The First Vision and the history of the early church provides us with a common background regardless of whether we are a new convert or can trace our history back to the Saints who lived in Kirtland and Nauvoo and crossed the plains.
Another important truth I take is that miracles, big, holy cow kind of miracles and smaller, quiet miracles, happen. They happen frequently. I think that we are just not aware of them as such things are sacred, but they do happen. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow; He proved it by showing Himself to Joseph and beginning the restoration. He continues to do so by miracles in our lives.
I also think of the moments directly before the vision when Joseph was “seized upon by some power which entirely overcame [him], and had such an astonishing influence over [him] as to bind [his] tongue so that [he] could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around [him], and it seemed to [him] for a time as if [he] were doomed to sudden destruction.” (JS-H 1:15) We talk often of enduring to the end and what that means. I think Joseph’s example of “exerting all [his] powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy,” is a good one. He clung to his hope and faith in God (2 Ne 4:19), believing not only that he would receive an answer to prayer but that he would be delivered from this powerful enemy. When did deliverance come? “At the very moment when [he] was ready to sink into despair and abandon [him]self to destruction . . . just at this moment of great alarm, [he] saw a pillar of light exactly over [his] head.” (JS-H 1:16) God delivers us in His timing and not ours. Sometimes I find it happens early on, sometimes, like Joseph, it seems to happen at that last crucial second. But God is continually mindful of us and our needs.
I think the First Vision teaches us a great deal not only about the corpality of God but of His nature and who He is that we should trust so deeply in Him; I also think it teaches us about who we are as mortals, our weaknesses, our strengths and our need for such a God.
What do you think?