The first time I set foot in the Sacred Grove, it was not a “beautiful, clear day, early in the spring” (Joseph Smith—History 1:14). It was a cloudy, freezing, snowy winter day in January. I was a new missionary in the New York Rochester Mission, and I don’t remember much about what was on my mind that day except the question “How am I going to make it through 18 months of talking to strangers?”
For an introvert like me, that’s a lot to take in. I do, however, remember that in spite of everything, I still felt a special spirit as I walked through those trees. As I gave tours of historic sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Palmyra area during my mission, I came to realize that these sites were sacred not just because of the events that happened there but because people continue to come there and have sacred experiences, no matter what season it is.
President Nelson’s invitation last general conference to ponder on how the events of the Restoration have affected our lives has caused me to reflect on some of the sacred experiences I’ve had and what the Restoration has meant in my life. What has stood out is that the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ signals continuing revelation for the Church, for my family, and for me.
Continuing Revelation in the Church
The more I have studied Joseph Smith’s life and the history of the Church, the more I’ve realized that the Restoration was, and continues to be, a process. The flow of revelation didn’t begin and end with Joseph. God continues to restore His truth line upon line, here a little and there a little, and that process continues today!
Elder Uchtdorf said, “The Restoration is an ongoing process; we are living in it right now. It includes ‘all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal,’ and the ‘many great and important things’ that ‘He will yet reveal’ [Articles of Faith 1:9]. . . . The exciting developments of today are part of that long-foretold period of preparation that will culminate in the glorious Second Coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ” (“Are You Sleeping through the Restoration?,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 59).
There have been a lot of exciting developments in the Church lately. It can sometimes feel overwhelming. But we’re not expected to do everything perfectly now. It is comforting to look back and see that ever since the early days of the Restoration, we have been given truth line upon line and haven’t always known exactly what to do or how to do it. If we look at these changes in the Church as an invitation to rely on Christ, the journey becomes less of a burden and more joyful.
Continuing Revelation for Families
I think it’s easy to say that my family wouldn’t be the same without the knowledge of the Restoration. My dad is a convert to the Church, and he is the only member of the Church in his family. Before he joined the Church, he enrolled at Brigham Young University on the recommendation of a friend. When I asked him why he started going to church, he came back with, “What else is there to do in Provo on Sundays?” Fair point. After getting baptized and serving a mission, he came back to BYU, where he met my mom. I am grateful for my dad’s ability to recognize and act upon spiritual truths and that he and my mom made covenants in the temple that would allow us to be a family forever.
That knowledge became especially important on another cold January day in the Sacred Grove. My mission companion and I were assigned to the afternoon shift at the Joseph Smith Historic Farm. It was the day of my mom’s funeral. As my companion and I were walking through the trees, it was like the landscape reflected how I felt—cold and dark and gray.
At the Joseph Smith farm, there’s a point as you walk along Stafford Road where you can stop and look one way to see the Sacred Grove and the other way to see the spire of the Palmyra Temple through the trees. That day, I stopped at that spot and thought about how because of truth given in those two places—Joseph Smith’s vision in those trees and covenants made in temples of God—I knew that I would see my mom again. I knew that if I kept my covenants, God would keep His promises to me and there would be good things to come. The loss of my mom continues to be hard for my family, but it’s those moments of peace that I hold on to as I have grieved.
Maybe you’re in a time of trial in your family. The knowledge of truth we have through the Restoration doesn’t take away the pain we feel, but it can give us the grace and the hope we need to keep going through the hard parts. Revelation can help us know how best to help those we love or simply how to love them better. It helps us learn what it means to be a part of the family of God as we learn more about ourselves and our relationships with each other and with Him.
Continuing Revelation for You and Me
Joseph said in his account:
“I reflected on [James 1:5] again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know. . . .
“At length I came to the conclusion that I must . . . ask of God” (Joseph Smith—History 1:12–13).
I love the message in these words, that each of us can “ask of God.” I’ve been thinking lately that approaching God doesn’t just mean coming with our questions—it means coming with our sorrows, our joys, our anxieties, our fears. It means coming before Him with everything we are, warts and all, with the knowledge that He will receive us. And it means that we, like the prophet has directed, “hear Him.”
Recently I had an experience that reminded me of this principle. I woke up and, even before I got out of bed, felt like I wasn’t enough. As I was wallowing in these feelings of “not enough,” I got in my car to drive to work and decided to listen to the Book of Mormon.
As I listened, I was reminded of the impression I received during a similar moment months ago, when I was anxious that I wasn’t doing enough with my life. I remembered thinking, “What if it’s good enough right now to learn to let myself feel worthy without always feeling the need to do more? What if it’s enough right now to learn to simply be in His presence—to hear Him?”
I am grateful that sometimes it’s enough for me to come and be with Him. I am grateful that the Restoration is God giving us a greater knowledge of who He is and offering us a more personal relationship with Him that isn’t dependent on how much we check off our to-do list each day. He loves us because we are His.
To me, the ongoing Restoration means love—the love of God that stretches across all generations and reaches out to every one of His children. It means prophets that receive guidance for our day. It means hope that those we love can be restored to us after we die, never to be separated again. It means the light of the Savior in my life that grows brighter as I open my heart to Him and follow where He leads me. It means that through the restoration of God’s truth, we can be restored to Him.