Personal revelation

March 20th, 2008

The following is an excerpt from an e-mail I sent to a friend today.

As I mentioned, I’ve been thinking about our discussion of personal revelation (I’ve included another friend in this message since you said that you and he have the same basic modus operandi). You said that your normal procedure is to examine a problem from every possible angle, decide upon the solution that seems to make the most sense, pray, maybe but certainly not always receive a confirmation that you’ve made the right decision, and then move forward with that decision, while J?B and I seem to have a more efficient insta-revelatory method. I admit that I do receive answers to questions/problems in this way, maybe even frequently, and I love it when that happens. But I’ve found that, as a rule, God uses this method only when the answer or idea is something I wouldn’t or couldn’t have thought of on my own. Generally, I study questions to death and beyond, trying to find the best answer (and worried that I’m going to get it wrong – but that’s a whole nuther subject); when I think I’ve made a decision, I ask God about it, and then, like you, move forward even if I don’t feel I’ve received a clear confirmation (following D&C 9:7 and 58:26). Sometimes when I’m weighing the options I can see, God sends me an entirely new option – one, again, that I would never have thought of myself. In other situations, God has to intervene because I’m ignoring all signs that I’m heading down the wrong path – as when last year He told me very clearly what my ideal weight was (I was not at all happy about that at first). And then, sometimes God sends me ideas completely out of the blue – for example, that I should move to Germany for a few months. In all of these cases, whatever He’s telling me to do is really important, so He has to do some prompting to make sure I get it. You’re probably very good at figuring out what God wants, so He doesn’t have to supply creativity in your case. 🙂

All this brings up the completely valid question of how I know whether a prompting comes from God or from my own sometimes overexcited imagination. The clearest indication that it’s from God is, again, that it’s something I wouldn’t have thought of myself. There’s also an indescribable but unmistakable feeling that accompanies most of these revelations. In the absence of unprecedented creative genius or obvious emotional response, though, I just have to apply the Ether 4:12/Moroni 7:13 litmus test – if it’s something good, that will make someone else happy, or at the very least won’t hurt anyone, then I figure I might as well do it.

End of e-mail excerpt. Beginning, I hope, of discussion.


3 Responses to “Personal revelation”

  1. Joanne on March 21, 2008 5:32 pm

    Trying to describe how one receives personal revelation, I believe, is one of those topics similar to trying to explain to someone how the Holy Ghost feels, or what faith is.
    Probably because the majority of the time (at least for me) personal revelation is materialized through promptings from the Holy Ghost. So they go hand-in-hand.
    For me personally: I felt it strong and clear when I was considering a mission; unmistakable revelation. But when I moved here, it was there and by no means lacking in power, but accompanied with it was the feeling that it was a ‘good choice’ but that other places I was considering also would be ‘good choices’ as well. So that left me many ‘good choices’ to choose from…but was no less of a personal revelatory experience than my mission.
    Each person’s feelings and experiences unique to them…a product of their personal relationship with Diety (namely our Heavenly Father, via Jesus Christ, en lieu of the Holy Ghost…all three in the Godhead working to lead and guide us according to God’s will and our righteous desires).
    I can’t imagine my life without it.

  2. Rebecca on March 22, 2008 12:24 pm

    Hear Hear! Well put, in a confusing, yet very true kind of way. I know what you mean and I agree. I usually go for the make-the-decision-and-ask-if-its-right method. That generally works for me because I am a bad listener and can’t tell when I’m getting answers. So I go forward with the plan and if its not right, things don’t happen right or it feels wrong, or whatever, and then I reevaluate. Its tricky stuff, trying to do what the Lord wants rather than what I want!

  3. Laura on March 25, 2008 2:14 pm

    I agree with all of the said, or rather, written. I think the Lord is generally much more trusting with us than we’d like to think; we as His children desire more than anything to do His will, so we almost constrict ourselves sometimes when this desire turns into fear of making the wrong choice. Yet He knows we have the capability to make decisions (He gave it to us), and He trusts our ability to make good ones (we’ve been doing it for aeons of time), and as a parent who abstains from advising their child on which major to pick, sometimes He abstains from advising us on which path to pursue because He wants us to learn that life is what we make of it.

    More excellent thoughts on this subject can be found at Trisha’s recent post: http://trishacheney.blogspot.com/2008/03/reminiscings-and-reflections.html (muy exelente, highly recomment it).

    Thanks for your thoughts and for publishing them–I’m learnin from you!

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