The Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith's First Vision;The Fear of Sharing Something Spiritual
The Fear of Sharing
I will never forget the first time I related my feelings about Joseph Smith's first vision to somebody who was not of my same faith. I must explain that this story holds such a sacred spot in my heart that it is very hard for mere words to allow me to express exactly how I feel about it. I had verbalized my feelings many times before this moment of sharing, but always to those who had similar beliefs as I did. It was always shared with a member of my own faith, a safe place to discuss something that I held so dear, a place where ridicule and scorn was not allowed. Venturing out of this "safety" or "comfort zone" required both faith and the ability to act on that faith. These are two areas that I need continued growth in and help with.
Now, with my feelings of fear exposed, you might wonder, what I was afraid of? I certainly was not afraid of the validity of the story being challenged, for me. I have extensively studied the life of the prophet Joseph Smith, and have discovered, for myself, the kind of man he was, and believe his story to be true. Not only have I studied about him, but I have also prayed about him and his message, and have had the feeling of truth confirmed to me, so unmistakenly strong, that chance of persuading me otherwise was not very likely. So why fear? I guess it was simply the fear of what others would think, the fear of "man", that held me back. I mean, it literally held me back from receiving the blessings that I could have enjoyed had I had more faith.
When our testimonies are strong, persecution cannot cause us to deny what we know to be true.
In Joseph Smith's own words he relates a similar experience.
Joseph Smith-History 1:21-26: "Some few days after I had this vision, I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist preachers, who was very active in the before mentioned religious excitement; and, conversing with him on the subject of religion, I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had. I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there would never be any more of them.
"I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects-all united to persecute me.
"It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself.
"However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.
"So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation."
If Any Of You Lack Wisdom
Similarly, I know of the truth of the "First Vision", and I know that God knows I know it to be true, so I cannot deny it. Still......it took a major leap of faith for me to share my beliefs with another.
The person who I shared my feelings with had approached me. He wanted me to explain my religious beliefs to him. He had noticed something about me and my family that was different from other people and he wanted to know what it was. He had a desire to know. He was in a humble state, seeking truth, not knowing where to find it.
He reminded me somewhat of Joseph Smith, who in that same position came across a passage of scripture while studying the Bible in the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse which reads:
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
Joseph explained how he felt when he read this scripture:
"Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. I reflected on it 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; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.
"At length I came to the conclusion that I must either remain in darkness and confusion, or else I must do as James directs, that is, ask of God. I at length came to the determination to ‘ask of God,' concluding that if he gave wisdom to them that lacked wisdom, and would give liberally, and not upbraid, I might venture."
That is what this young man was venturing to know. He wanted to gain wisdom on the subject of God and was seeking to find it the best way he knew how. For this reason, I felt bound to tell him of Joseph Smith's same quest for wisdom. I felt that I had to put aside my "fear" and "share."
The First Vision
As told in Joseph Smith's own words:
"So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. It was on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.
"After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
"But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction-not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being-just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me."
"It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other-This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"
Brightness and Glory Defy All Description
Faith Rewarded With Strength
As I started to relate the story to my friend, similarly, I felt this power of darkness overcome me and the fear of man surrounded me as I uttered the words of the vision I knew to be true. Simultaneously, thoughts flooded my mind, "this story is so unbelieveable!", "you sound utterly ridiculous!", "come on, you are an educated individual... you believe this story?!", "he probably thinks you're on CRACK!"
Then as if by sheer will I plowed forward through the dark and a light burst forth and truth won. I have never felt the comfort of the spirit of truth stronger than at that moment when I was asked to step into the dark. My faith had been put to the test and was rewarded with an even stronger conviction of the truthfulness of the story I told.
For me the story has a happy ending. As I finished relating the First Vision to my friend, I simply asked, "Do you believe it could have happened?"
With humility and a willingness to submit to the spirit he responded, "Yes, I do."
To My Friends on HUBPAGES
As I have searched these HUBPAGES, I have found many insightful and inspirational HUBS. I have discovered the beauty of art from Kenny, I have learned the majesty of the Hebrew text from Peter, I have read poems that were so beautiful that they pierced my heart, I have felt of LDSNana's love for her religion, just as I have felt the same from Wehzo and many others who have dared to share their innermost feelings with us on the HUB. I have found everyone to be respectful and tolerant of each others opinions and thoughts. I find this to be refreshing in a world of criticism.
Because of the warmth and unity I have felt with each author whose HUB I have read, I have decided to share what I hold so dear. I know that this boy, Joseph, saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in a grove of trees, because he had the faith and humility to ask. I know that because of this truth he shared with the world, my eyes have been opened to many wonderful truths I would have otherwise discovered in no other way. I have been given a better understanding of the scriptures and feel more joy in the purpose of my life here on earth. Some who read this may not agree, or even ridicule what I have dared to share, but it matters not to me, I know that each time I share it with others my faith increases and my life is blessed. I know this to be true.
My only hope is that this will be read with the intention that it was written, as a gift of love. Enjoy, the best I have to offer.
Official Websites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
The Testimony of Joseph Smith
- Why Be A Missionary? A Perspective From A LDS Missionary's Mom
As a mother, and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, when I see those cute boys in white shirts and ties riding their bikes on the streets of my city I can't help but have a profound love for them. Yes, these young men you see,
- LdS LiNkS - MoRmOn ChUrCh BeLiEfS & MoRe ReSoUrCeS...
I hope that you enjoy these websites and find them helpful, as you learn more about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.