My friend Eric has e-published another free book on Lulu. This one is entitled, “The Doctrine of Meeting Christ in This Life: Jacob’s Ladder, the LDS Temple and Greater Things.” It is 144 pages. His first one (110 pages) was about the Plan of Salvation symbolized as One Eternal Round. He also published a short booklet (68 pages) about the Sacrament. http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/eternalround
Eric was my Bishop a few years back. I also served as one of his counselors in the Bishopric. We now serve together in the Stake Presidency. Well, sort of. He’s the Executive Secretary and I’m the Stake Financial Clerk. But positions in the Church certainly don’t matter a hill of beans, do they? I only mention this to let you know that Eric’s a good guy and can be trusted. He’s a physician here in our local area.
The booklet is mainly a compilation of quotes and scriptures. A few words from his introduction might give you a feel for the content and Eric’s focus. He also included a Step 0, which is to Study Christ, to learn about Christ, and expressed a hope that our time spent on this lower level is short. In other words, we all should be a little further up the ladder by now in following Christ, seeking to meet Him.
Spiritual Progress on Jacob’s Ladder
So pick up the little booklet from Lulu. It’s free and is a thoughtful and well-organized compilation. Quoting the introduction, “Jacob’s ladder, symbolically applied to our own personal spiritual progression, has 3 principal steps:
Step 1: Telestial Level – Follow Christ
Step 2: Terrestrial Level – Meet Christ
Step 3: Celestial Level – Know Christ
“For us, Step 1 occurs in this mortal life. Step 3 occurs after this mortal life. This book would like to suggest that Step 2 can occur in this mortal life (Hence the title). On this salvational ladder, knowledge makes up the steps. Faith, hope, and charity make us attempt to climb the steps. Grace, provided through the Atonement of Christ, is the power that actually moves us up the steps.
“Nothing is worth more than the spiritual climb up this ladder. Nothing should be allowed to distract us from the path to knowing Christ. Mortal life is too precious and short to waste on the relatively less important things. I do not place my faith in the Church, which is an organization of imperfect humans. I place my faith in Jesus Christ. I have membership in the Church because I feel it helps me progress along this path.”
The Ladder Leads to Christ
Eric has gone to great lengths to compile these quotes and scriptures in a logical and comprehensive manner. He leads you step by step or rather rung by rung up Jacob’s ladder, providing evidence that meeting Christ is not only a doctrine of the Church but is the central theme of the gospel – something we all MUST do. I like the format of an e-book. You can keep it handy for reference in electronic format.
The chapter on Jacob’s ladder is enlightening. I had the pleasure of being taught by Bishop Chun on a regular basis in the combined third hour instruction that took place once a quarter. He was continually reminding us to wake up, like Jacob needed to do in order to begin his ascent up the ladder. Of course, Bishop Chun was also a fan of the Matrix so maybe “wake up” meant even a little more to him.
The Temple is a Map
He writes about the temple being a map: “How is the temple endowment a map? Our spiritual understanding of the symbols shows us where we are, how close we are to God’s presence. The hidden treasures of gospel understanding will remain hidden to the spiritually unenlightened mind. The mysteries are ingeniously concealed within the symbolism of the temple ordinances.
“How much we are able to see, discern, and understand is a measurement of our spirituality. Understanding the symbols is what endows us, because personal revelation is required to understand the symbols. Continuing to receive until we are at such a spiritual level that we can pierce through the veil and enter the presence of the Lord—that is being endowed with spiritual power from on high.”
I have been re-reading Denver Snuffer’s first book (second edition, 2008), The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord Through the Veil. I’m in Chapter Four – Nephi’s walk. The focus of Denver’s message, or actually Nephi’s, is that we must act upon what we believe in order to have sufficient faith to come unto Christ and save our souls. A man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge.
But the kind of knowledge we’re talking about here is the kind that comes from obedience. When you learn a principle and then live it, you obtain your own personal witness of its validity. You then have knowledge. That’s another step up the ladder. The trick is to know what knowledge is most important to obtain and then to let nothing stand in your way of obtaining that knowledge experience.
Seek the Face of the Lord
We are to seek the Lord’s face. We start with a desire to believe. Nephi heard his father tell of his visions and dreams. At first he was skeptical. He decided to ask God to help him believe. He says the Lord visited him and softened his heart. We know the response of his brothers. Sam believed Nephi’s words but Laman and Lemuel hardened their hearts. Nephi’s first visit was to simply soften his heart.
Have we had that first visit from the Lord? I have. But it only comes if we ask. I have had my heart softened towards the things of God. I have asked Him to help me accept difficult doctrines and to have the courage to act upon them. Like Nephi, there was no rushing wind, no parting veil, nothing material happened. But I had a desire to receive, I asked for it, and I received. Skepticism and doubt vanished.
Hear the Voice of the Lord
Nephi teaches us the next step in the path when he reports back to the Lord on his efforts to share his testimony with his brothers. He then hears the voice of the Lord saying, “Blessed art thou Nephi, because of thy faith…” I think we just left a large number of church members behind. I would say the majority have experienced step one in that they had a softening of the heart, else why would they come to church?
But this hearing the voice of the Lord thing, that’s where we lose a lot of people. Of course it was not an audible voice. The voice of the Lord came into his mind. I can’t tell you how many conversations and private dialogs I have had with people who said, “How can I tell the difference between my own thoughts and the voice of the Lord?” This sacred subject has received a lot of attention over the years.
Visions or Dreams
The ability to hear, just like the ability to accept what is heard, is directly related to keeping the commandments. The more faithful you are in obeying the word of the Lord to his prophets, the more prepared you are to receive his voice individually. The cleaner your personal life is the better you can hear his voice. When the Lord speaks to you, you will know it. It is accompanied by a quiet peace in your heart.
Sometimes the Lord chooses to speak to us in a vision, also called a dream. I know few people who have open visions, but know many who have communicated with the Lord through dreams. Don’t discount dreams as a legitimate method of the Lord to answers the prayers of his children. I have received some sacred visions in this manner. I know when a dream is from the Lord. I record them in my journal.
Daily Walk With the Lord
The next step or rung on the ladder is to understand the process of the daily walk with the Lord. God is not some distant being who cares nothing for you. He is someone who cares enough about us that He will help us accomplish whatever it is He asks us to do. Just like Nephi had the faith to say, “I will go and do,” we too must walk each day with the assurance that the Lord will help us step by step.
Start each day with prayer. Tell God what it is you need to accomplish that day. Tell him why you are trying to do what you must do. Ask him to help you and to walk with you as you step through the process of each task. Talk to Him as you encounter difficulties during the day. Listen for His calm reassuring voice telling you that you can do it or suggesting alternative ways to accomplish your task.
A Pause on the Ladder
And that’s about as far as I’ve come in my third re-read of Denver’s book. I have my pen and highlighter out and am marking each step and each part of the process so I can say I understand and evaluate where I am. I am pleased to say I am at least up to this point. I desire to see His face, I have heard his voice in my mind many, many times. I can also tell you that this daily walk with the Lord is a real thing.
I know we can meet Christ in this life. I have not seen His face yet, but I know where I’m at on the path. He has asked some difficult things of me. I have failed some tests and passed others. Tests that used to come at me over and over again now seem to have served their purpose and no longer appear on the path. I am so very grateful for a living and loving God who lets me know where I am in life.
Invitation to Dialog
Where are you? I invite comments. I love the dialog. Thanks for reading my story.