I confess I do not know whom the Remnant is or where they shall be gathered or what they shall be doing. I do believe in the literal gathering of Israel. I presume the Remnant will be awakened unto God and learn their true identity by God Himself, when they hear His voice calling them; that records had among them, written and kept by their prophets, shall come forth; and that angels shall descend to minister unto them and prepare them for the glories (and calamities) that await this fallen world.
At least I hope so.
I am seeking further light and knowledge from my Father. In terms of understanding and spiritual advancement, I have been greatly blessed these past two years, far more than in the preceding two dozen. Not too long ago, my growth was stunted. My progress had stagnated. I had stopped calling upon God to minister to me. I had stopped seeking after the mysteries of godliness.
And God was content to let me do so. Apparently, He has all the time in the world. And then some.
I sneered at others, looking down kindly, but condescendingly if not uncomprehendingly, at those who rejected, fell away from or left the LDS Church and the gospel it preaches. "If only they knew better", I comforted and congratulated myself.
Yet were the powers of heaven evident in my own life? Was I willing and able to call upon God in faith to heal the sick or raise the dead? Was I privy to revelation on behalf of myself, my family, my community, my Church or the world at large? Was I becoming more like Christ?
Surely I had felt the comfort and peace of the Holy Spirit in the Lord's temple. Surely I had been blessed in abundance by heaven in my own life and in my circle of friends and family. But how much closer was I to establishing Zion in my home? Where were the gifts of the Spirit in my life and in the lives of my wife and children? Thirty years from now, if I did nothing more, would I be satisfied with what I had accomplished? Would I be happy, as an old man, with the cumulative spiritual experience, power and understanding I had achieved?
No, I would not, I told myself. I wanted more.
I wanted to be holier. I wanted to be more connected with heaven. More interconnected with the powers and personality of God. I wanted to ascend Jacob's ladder and -- like him, with him -- commune with Deity. I wanted to enjoy the privileges known to the Ancients, the Savior's apostles and those of this early dispensation. I wanted to belong again to that true and living Church of Jesus Christ, where people didn't just pantomime coming unto Him, but actually did!
In my youth, I approached each new fireside and sacrament meeting with that ambition that I would learn something new and do something more that would bring me that much closer to Jesus. When was the last time you felt or did that in Church, in any activity or meeting? When was the last time you left a building -- or entered it -- and said to yourself, "Today I hope to meet my Savior!"?
Perhaps we have lost that expectation, trusting that "there is no God today, for the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men." (2 Nephi 28:5.) Perhaps we now come and go from our meetings trusting in our leaders and in their ability to pierce the heavens, to steer and guide us Homeward, to speak to the Lord on our behalf, to hear His words and to direct us for Him, as He wills, to tell us what He would have us do. And we do it.
And yet we know Him not.
How much closer are we to the Savior today than we were last year? Ten years ago? Since the day of our baptism? And how much fuller are our fast and testimony meetings with exclamations of praise for Jesus and exultations of our experiences and interactions with Him? I submit -- and this truism I'm sad to acknowledge -- that the vast majority, almost every one, of the Latter-day Saints -- has no interaction at all with Jesus Christ on a personal level. They have never met Him, seen His face, heard His voice, or interacted with Him directly in any way. Except by reflected light -- the universal light of Christ and the ministration of His holy mind by the Holy Spirit -- they know Him not. And not one in a thousand, if that, can claim they have ever met Him -- as did Abraham, (presumably) Isaac, and Jacob, making a covenant directly with Him -- by which they knew they were saved and sealed up unto eternal life, forever to dwell with Him in celestial realms.
All our ordinances, signs and tokens are but symbols of that potential reality. How many of us have made them real? How many of us personally know a God who calls Himself by our first name?
Unless and until we do, we are not saved.
One must ask himself: "Am I associated with an organization and body of like-minded individuals and families who want the same things I do? Who seek after and search for Righteousness, the Man of Heaven, the Prince of Peace? Am I progressing spiritually? Am I communing with God, angels and these men in a way that brings me closer to the person I want to be?"
If not, perhaps we need a change.
Last night my new friends, John and Jacqueline Olson, visited my home for the first time, stopping in on their way home to Mesa, coming from Newport Beach. We first met two months ago at Tim Malone's house in Camarillo, where we partook of the Lord's supper and they witnessed my rebaptism. Tonight we ate and drank again, uplifted by the Spirit we felt during our hours-long conversation about Jesus Christ and His gospel. That is what church ought to be. That is what I remember going to church was as a kid: a celebration of the Son of God and His marvelous workings among men.
Is that what church is, for you, today?
I don't know what the future holds in store for me, my family, our country, this world. Only a fool would presume that the present course of things can continue forever: when what is wrong is lauded as right; when the wicked are exalted and the righteous abased; when mounting debt is looked upon as wealth; when leisure and pleasure are preferred over work and production. We have hollowed out our culture and hallowed the profane, rendering worship as a saccharine, soothing substitute for the real thing.
I want to meet God again. Over and over. I want to draw down the powers of heaven by personal repentance and the ministration of His grace, that, by association with Him, I may learn how to be, how to act, how to serve, and to be once again filled with that everlasting love that pervades all those who know Him.
I want nothing less.
A group of us are planning to gather this late spring at Grand Mesa, Colorado, to socialize, celebrate, worship and learn. We are going to continue to practice what we preach. We are preparing now. We don't know -- at least, I don't know -- what will happen there.
But in the past few years I have greatly enjoyed meeting, sharing with and learning from that body of believers in Christ who embrace the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon as a literal, sacred history of (some of) God's people; who believe in the fullness of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith; and who rejoice in and look forward to the fulfillment of that promise.
We cannot do this ourselves. We cannot "hasten the work" before its time. We cannot claim to be anything more than who and what we are. This is God's work. We can only gather together and say "Here am I, Lord. Send me."
For more information -- and if you'd like to attend this free event -- contact Bret.