Thursday, April 28, 2016

Not My Will

When Jesus was 12 years old, He was already about his Father’s business. (See Luke 2:49.) Nevertheless, He submitted Himself to the will of his mortal mother and step-father and, as the scriptures report, He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:52.)

I have done none of that. In my relentless pursuit to find (and fight) for, what I understood to be, both truth and right (and even to “be” right), I’ve burned nearly every bridge I’ve crossed and ruined nearly every relationship I’ve had. My closest, dearest friends live far away from me and my closest family wants little or nothing to do with me. 

I’ve been married three times. And each time I’ve married, I’ve succeeded in turning someone who loved me dearly and chose to be with me into someone who would rather not. I managed to get a church which scours the world seeking new converts to cast me out and banish me as “the twofold more child of hell” I’ve become.

When Jesus appeared to me in a dream (36 years ago), I was a reeking, sickly, mute and filthy “child.” I threw my arms around His neck and kissed Him! And His love, as undulating beams of light, emanated from His body and pierced my soul, filling me with His love and light. I thereby learned He was and is the Light and the Life of the world.

But first I had to learn that I was broken, sickly, powerless, faithless, a creature of this fallen world, in darkness and irredeemable without Him. I had to learn that I was hopeless, powerless and unable to make the world as I would have it be — perfect — unless I embraced Him and His perfection, unless I ate His body and drank His blood, unless I became even as He is.

And His ways were not my ways. He is not “the natural man” (see Mosiah 3:19). Just the opposite. He is the personification of godliness, the Man of Holiness, the Everlasting Father (see Hebrews 1:2-3; Moses 7:35; Isaiah 9:6.) His ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), but His are the right ways. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6.)

All my life I have walked in darkness, stumbling in the wilderness, as it were, following a “man dressed in white” through a “dark and dreary waste” (see 1 Nephi 8:5-8). I have learned that holy men cannot save me. Trying to follow them is a fool’s game. 

Nine years ago I had a dream. In this dream I stumbled and faltered spiritually, unsuccessfully navigating an “obstacle” course of sorts around my neighborhood and home. I encountered pitfalls and roadblocks at every turn. I could not complete the course successfully. Then I saw a small child on a tricycle and recognized her as my daughter (a daughter whom my wife and I had not yet had). I called to her, but she would not come to me.

“Why won’t my daughter come to me?” I asked the man beside me, dressed in white. (He happened to be a black man.)

“When you were in trouble, she stayed behind to help you. But when it was her chance to be born, you cut off the stream of life and she was given to another family.”

“You mean she is not my daughter anymore?”

In that dream, I saw my daughter ride off into the sunset.

That dream has had several meanings to me. At the time, my wife was pregnant with our third daughter. We wanted another boy (giving us four children in all, so that we could “call it quits” and be done with childbearing). But that was not to be. This girl (in my dream) had golden, curly hair. She was full of light and love. I was awestruck at her beauty and enraptured by the glorious prospect of raising her as my own. 

When I awoke from that dream, I found my wife asleep in another room, nursing our son. I told her of the glorious daughter we were about to receive. We cried together with joy. That girl has been everything I envisioned. Her golden curly locks have long been recognized as one of her most distinguishing features! And she is filled with light and love.

But time marches on. We had two more sons after that, giving us six in all — three boys and three girls — an even half dozen! We were done. Our “quiver” (and, more importantly, our minivan) was full. Then the Lord, by happenstance, reminded me of the dream I had of the young girl on a bicycle with training wheels (or a tricycle) and, by the voice of His Spirit, He told me that another child, another daughter, awaited coming to our family. 

I told my wife of my revelation and, having it confirmed to her own soul, she submitted to the will of the Lord and brought forth another daughter, our fourth girl and seventh wonder of the world.

This child is the personification of love and light. She often hugs me and gives me love I surely don't deserve. She is the kindest, sweetest little thing. She is yet untainted by the world.

But recall that I asked the man in white why my daughter would not come to me. 

Because of my hard heartedness, stiff neckedness, impatience, self-will, unkindness, and “my way or the highway” approach to leading my family these past 16 years, my latest wife has put me on notice that she is prepared to divorce me now. I am about to lose my precious children and they will be given to another.

Several months ago I heard a voice. It came to me even as a whisper. It came to me in the stillness of a quiet afternoon as I sat pondering my life. “You will lose your job and your house and your wife and your children" was all it said. I did not recognize the voice at first. I did not know if it was of God or of the devil (or perhaps even myself!). I immediately began to doubt the voice and wondered if it was my own imagination. 

But it was too much like the Lord's voice, His way of doing things, to be ignored. It was too much like the test given to Job (see Job 1) or the judgment of God upon king Belteshazzar (see Daniel 5) to dismiss. After all, I had heard the Lord's voice before...but that was a very, very long time ago.

I was aghast at the thought! I was incredulous! I was filled with dread! These were the things I had sought and worked for my whole life! They were what the Lord had given me, or rather, they were what the Lord had allowed me to have.

Would I be led to proclaim: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord”? (See Job 1:21.)

My whole world has now become unraveled. I am currently “employed,” but I’ve "lost" my job (being placed on paid administrative leave). I’ve "lost" my home. (My wife has invited me to move out.) My older children despise me and will not speak with me. (I've "lost" them, too.)

I have witnessed the bitter fruit of my own failure to lead my wife and children to Christ. I toyed with the idea of writing a blog post entitled “Failed Zion,” but I do not know enough of Zion to know what I need to do to achieve it or even how I might measure how badly I’ve failed at it.

I guess I know now. I have not “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” My older children now despise reading the scriptures (as they despise following me). They do not have confidence in the efficacy of prayer but are enthralled in all the toys and gimmicks and distractions common to our culture and time. They have hardened their hearts against the word of the Lord and against the God of heaven.

And so have I. While not weary of well-doing, I have grown faint in offering my prayers and feasting on the scriptures as I ought. "Does the Lord listen to me?" I wonder. "Will He answer my prayer? Will He give me my heart's desire, even as I am striving (and horribly failing) to achieve it?" 


A few days ago, when none of my clan would raise his or her voice to offer prayer on our behalf, I undertook (as is my wont) to do so, but this time I departed from the “standard” offering of thanks to God for our “many blessings," asking that His providence continue. (We have had our fill of material blessings. Our cup literally overfloweth!)

Yet we are spiritually and physically dying as a family.

So, knowing how deprivations and want can often inspire one to become humble — and knowing that humility and true gratitude, even love for each other and all that we have were in short supply — I offered this prayer instead:

“God, please curse us. Remove Your blessings from us that we might learn to appreciate all that we have. Cause roadblocks and stumbling stones to be placed before us, hedging up our way, that we might learn to rely upon You and be grateful for all You do for us! Place burdens on our backs. Make us humble, so that we will repent of our sins, our hardness of heart and blindness of mind. Cause us to have broken hearts and contrite spirits. In Jesus' name, amen.”

My wife told me afterward: “That was the last straw! I cannot be married to a man who asks God to curse us!”

I understand her fears and misgivings about being married to me. Who could rely upon such a man as I am?

I want us all to rely upon and follow Christ! (I’m having difficulty enough just doing that myself!) Even if I were a “man in white” to my family, it would, eventually, be futile for them to follow me. I don't know the way. He does! I should only be "followed" inasmuch as I am following the Lord! (And, truth be told, I’m doing a piss-poor job of that.)

How do I know? Well, for one, my wife and children are abandoning me. I have led them (as I left the LDS Church) to “wander in the wilderness,” as it were. My own sins (which have been many, some grievous) are another “testimony” of my unreliability and fallen nature. I am not “flesh” in which anyone ought to place his or her trust. (At least my wife and children are “wise” enough to see that now!)

But soon I will be alone (I fear). ALL that I have worked for my whole life, it seems, is soon to be undone.

Yesterday morning I went to my closet and offered a prayer to God (on my knees, out loud, for the first time in many days). My prayer was simple and direct: “God, help me!”

I rose from my knees, went to my room, laid down on my bed, emotionally and physically drained…then the phone rang.

A holy man (coincidentally, a black man I’ve known for many years, a man with a great marriage and seven children of his own) was on the line. He told me he felt inspired to call me. (He later told me his daughter had had a dream the night before in which she was prompted to “reach out” to the Carter family. His wife had prompted him to do the same. He first considered putting it off for a week, but, then, after further consideration, felt moved to call me just then. Just now. Just after I had prayed.)

We agreed to meet. And this morning, as yesterday morning, we met and discussed my situation. It is exactly as the “man in white” — even as that black man — laid out to me in vision 9 years ago. I am failing, badly. I am about to lose everything, surely. I am about to lose my job, my house, my wife and my children. They are about to be given to another.

This man told me: “I am here as a direct result of your prayer. From here on out, everything that happens will be in fulfillment of that prayer. The Lord intends to honor your request.”

Oh my.

My little girl, the light of love, is turning three next month. She is ready to ride a tricycle. Whether she rides into the sunset — as she did in my dream, and is lost to me forever! — or she comes into my arms, I do not know.

I only know that my will has not worked. My version of Zion has failed. My will ought not be done. It doesn’t work. It’s a failure.

I have lost the love and devotion of my wife and older children. I confess my sin to her, to my children, to you and to the Lord. I pray the Lord will be merciful and that my “bondage” will not last forever. I pray the Lord delivers me and my family. I love them with my whole soul! I love the Lord. But I must be "broken" in order for this "seed" to crack and bring forth real fruit. (The dry, sterile kind which I produce, apparently, is unfit for consumption.)

The Lord’s fruit is found in keeping His commandments. Those commandments, as found in the Sermon on the Mount, are so radically different than anything you will be taught in church that you may not learn or heed them if you focus on practicing your particular “religion.” Christ was not religious. (And that irked the “religious types” of His day.) His manner of “worship” was so private, so personal, so hidden from the world that even His disciples had to plead with Him to teach them how to pray. (See Luke 11:1.)

Our “religion” ought to bless and not curse, do good and not evil, pray for and not against our brethren. The black man, symbolically arrayed in white, told me my prayer of “cursing” was a “bold” prayer. God would have us be "hot" or "cold," not lukewarm. I took a stand and made a commitment. I was prepared to call down the very fire of heaven on both me and my family, if it would save us all.

I pray it will. I pray I have the fortitude to endure it. I pray I have the courage to ensure that “not my will, but thine, be done." (Luke 22:42.)

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


You may have wondered why I haven't posted lately.

I don't know if I'm "steak" destined for the meat grinder or if I'm hamburger destined for the barbeque. Either way, I'm going through a tortuous experience right now that is both redefining and reshaping who I am, "remaking" me into what I will become (for good or evil). 

It's not a pleasant experience. It's not comfortable. It's not enjoyable. I don't like it! I weep and wail and mourn nearly every day.

But it's necessary.

EVERYTHING I believe in (or believed) is being challenged. EVERY support I've built up, received or depended upon throughout my life is being threatened and withdrawn. EVERY relationship I've known has been (or is being) tested. The very concepts, constructs and organizations I've thought to be "of God" have been shown (to me, in many cases) to be of my own imagination, or to be subject to my own misapprehensions. 

"My way," I've been forced to conclude, is NOT the "highway to heaven." 

Rather, just the opposite: it's the road to hell.

I've been reminded of Isaiah 55:8-9 not by the teachings of men, but by my own experience: by tasting the bitter fruit of my -- yes -- my misdeeds and misapprehensions. 

Haven't we all (those of us who have thought to "embrace the light" and "follow the Lord") assumed that we were doing "right" -- after reading the scriptures, pondering, praying, etc. -- that we were going to be "blessed," even "rewarded" -- if not here, then certainly hereafter -- because we were doing God's will, being guided by His Spirit?

And, yet, what if we were wrong

(You can see, as an aside, the necessity of "sin" -- of "making an experiment on the word," both for good and evil, to test and try the claims of both God and the devil, to see which one bears "fruit" -- and what kind of fruit? and how does it taste? and is it worth the price paid? Without sin (and experimentation) there is no knowledge and, thus, no power to choose, no agency, no accountability, no growth. But, as I said, that's an aside to this post.)

As the man who excommunicated me said -- just before he said, "Why do we even need the Holy Ghost when we have a living prophet?" -- "What if your Holy Ghost is different from my Holy Ghost?"


What if what we perceive to be "of God" is not of God? What if (as Joseph Smith is reported to have said...and I'm paraphrasing here): "Some revelations are of God, some are of men, and some are of the devil"? What if what we think to be "of God" -- because of our earnestness, sincerity, supposed humility and seeking after truth, our willingness to submit to all things whatsoever the demands of seeking truth inflict upon us -- what if what we think to be "true" is still of man or of the devil? What if what we "know" to be "true" is, in fact, false? (That is why my friend Log asserts to "know" only that which he has experienced for himself. How else can one truly know anything? Isn't all other "knowledge" mere belief?)

Then ought we not tread lightly with the "knowledge" of others? What do we "know" ourselves? 

Very little.

Can it be, like the people of Alma, enslaved by the people of Amulon (see Mosiah, chapters 23 and 24) that our hearts (or our intentions) can be "right," even as our thoughts, words and deeds may still be "wrong": wrong enough to require humiliation of the sort to which "righteous" Alma and his people were subject (and to which they ultimately meekly submitted) for God's sake?

I would suggest that, for most of us (me, included) our "errancy" is not only a possibility, but (with few exceptions) a practical reality.

It is not only likely that we are "wrong"...and must be punished and humiliated, even as we strive to humble ourselves. It is necessary. It is unavoidable. For none of us is "like unto God" (yet). And all of those who would be as God (and with Him) must pass through this crucible, this refiner's fire, this grinder. 

Alma and his people, while seeking truth, nonetheless had been raised in sin and error. Their false traditions, vain ideas, material supports and "haughtiness" had to be broken. And they were willing to be broken, for God's sake.

If you think you are "steak," you will be shown to be hamburger! And if you think you are "hot stuff," you will be introduced directly to the flame!

I don't know where I am going now. I really don't. I don't know what I will do or where I be or what I will become (if anything) hereafter. (I don't even know where I will be living...or with week!) 

This is God's work. Either He does it -- or it won't get done. Because whatever I do -- of myself, without His authorization and support -- will come to naught and will ultimately pass away, whether it be relationships, houses, businesses, beauty, might or dominion. It will all turn to dust and be done away -- unless it is saved and preserved by Him. 

Much of what I thought was true has been shown (to me) to be false. Families aren't forever. There is one Family that is forever: the family of God. He, alone, has the power to save and preserve His family (including us, if we belong to it and to Him). Otherwise, all the kingdoms of this world -- all associations, contracts and connections, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people -- by whatever power or "authority" established and connected -- will come to naught and pass away, even as grass, or as branches of the vineyard, destined to be lopped off and burned.

It's His way...or the highway to hell. This mortal "experiment" is provided to teach us by our own experience to choose good from evil, to learn that our way doesn't work. (The sooner we learn that, the better!)

There are those who are beguiled into thinking that riches, comforts and "blessings" -- the "fruits" of living "the good life" -- are symbols of success; that they've "made it" once they "have it all": the "trophy" wife (or "perfect" husband), a "quiver full" of children (or not!), the "perfect" job, a fully-funded IRA, that "dream" house, boat, etc.

All these things, at best, will come to naught. This world will end and, with it, EVERYTHING IN IT. "Surely you will have your reward," Jesus warned those who would mount up treasures on earth. Indeed, those who seek after the substance of this world are destined to "cycle, rinse and repeat," worlds without end. The same spirit that possesses them in this world will have power to possess them in the world to come. They will get what they want. Everlastingly. (See Alma 34:34.)

And they will be in "hell" (like we are now, where Obama reigns and people war and squabble over nothing) continually! And they won't even know it!

Always it is given to us to seek after the things of God's world (for He remembers even those of us in "hell") to invite us to do things His way. This world (hell) mocks heaven and repudiates all things divine, pointing the finger of scorn at everything God does, in His way. The world sees His work as abject failure. (Or no "work" at all: a "godless" universe!)

Jesus was the ultimate "failure" to those without eyes to see.

So I've ventured forward a bit and told you where I see myself: someone on the track toward God; enmired (yet) in sin (rebellious, prideful, self-willed, ignorant, lazy). I'm (probably) practically useless to God now, as is. (Except to set a "poor" example...or be a "good" example of what not to do or become or follow. At least, that's what my wife and children tell me!)

I am destined, if I continue down this path, to "lose" everything I've "gained" in this world. (At least I hope so!) I do not aspire to be rich, only pure. I do not aspire to be popular, only holy. 

Yes, I would like to be loved. Loved by everybody! 

But I'd rather be loved by God and have His approval, His approbation, if it means that I am (finally) following in the "right" course.

I don't know where that "course" is, other than to keep the commandments of Jesus (see Matthew 5-7, etc.). I've repented (as best I know how to repent) and I've confessed everything of note "worthy" to confess beyond the common lot of man. I've been baptized (and re-baptized!) to show heaven and earth my willingness to follow Christ. I've borne witness of the truth (as I've understood the truth) and I've sought to bear the burdens of others, even my "foes". (See Matthew 10:36.)

It's a start. 

Other than that, I'm "lost." 

I pray God "finds" me and saves me. I am asking, seeking and knocking.

That's all I can do.