Although I am a Southern California boy, I love Southern Utah. I have a lot of history with that area, especially Hurricane. My in-laws lived there for nearly fifteen years at the end of their lives. I travel to Hurricane three or four times every year and have for the last thirty years. Carol still has family there, brothers and nephews who live nearby.
In sacred moments of soul-searching and prayer I would walk the wind-swept bluffs of Quail Creek and Sand Hollow, early in the morning and late in the evening. Sometimes I would hike all day, fasting, praying and crying out to the Lord for guidance and answers to my questions. I found peace there, and blessings from God to be patient with life.
In some of those sacred, quiet moments with only the beautiful rocks, the wind and the stars as my companions, I would snuggle up in my winter coat, look up at the stars and simply talk to the Lord. It was never profound, never earth-shaking, just a simple dialog with me doing a lot of complaining and the Lord doing a lot of kind and patient listening.
In later years, the dialog would consist of more listening on my part as the Lord would share with me how things would work out. I’m certain He resisted the urge to say, “I told you so,” when I reported that things were going better, that I was happier and was more able to tolerate frustration and disappointment with some difficult things in my life.
There’s something about Southern Utah that intrigues me. When my parents retired and moved from Southern California to Taylorsville Utah, I would visit them often. Mother wasn’t happy there, in spite of the fact she was spending her days doing family history work and getting expert assistance from folks in the Family History Library in Salt Lake.
My folks were from Oklahoma, moved to California in the 1950’s and raised their family there. The culture of Utah was a shock to my parents, especially my mother. They lasted about ten years and then moved back to California to the desert area of Hemet, where they spent the last few years of their lives. I don’t think they ever got over the upset.
Carol is from Logan. We lived in Salt Lake, Logan and Brigham City the first year after we were married. Our son was born in Logan. He’s not happy about that. He says folks in Utah are messed up, including some of his cousins. There’s just something unique about the culture of Utah. I suspect it has something to do with their polygamous ancestors.
Carol’s brother, who lives in LaVerkin, is on a personally-appointed mission to help all the young men who get kicked out of Short Creek (Colorado City) by the old polygamous men who want all the young girls to themselves. I love him for doing that. He’s a good man and is trying to help rectify a terrible situation that has destroyed many families.
We plan to retire to Southern Utah. Our son surprised us by saying he wanted to build a house with us there someday. When asked, he said the country is beautiful, in spite of the weirdness of some of the people. We laughed. Although he has never been judgmental, He is becoming more tolerant of people’s weird beliefs and even weirder lifestyles.
Two individuals who practice the healing arts and whom I respect hail from Southern Utah. There are apparently a lot of folks in that area who have suffered abuse of all kinds. Mel Fish was excommunicated because he was so good at helping people cast off unwanted spiritual attachments. I’m so glad I got to interview Mel before he passed.
I like the theme of the upcoming conference in Southern Utah March 20-22. It’s a perfect theme for a beautiful area that seems conducive to revelation. Maybe it’s because I have such wonderful memories of talks with the Lord out in nature there. On one occasion, I sat on the side of a mountain and watched the sun go down while I waited on the Lord.
Although it’s been over twenty years, I still ponder what I felt and saw in my mind’s eye that evening. Some people hear the voice of the Lord, some people see visions. On that occasion I experienced both. It had to do with the future, especially future events in my life in connection with what the Lord was planning to do in that area in the last days.
I had a sense of past, present and future all coming together in that moment. I felt as if I was on holy ground, a place where others had communed with the Lord previously. I thought about Zion and where it would be. I wondered about the Hopi and Anasazi Indians who held the nearby Mesas sacred. Had they wandered in this very area?
As I sat there that evening I wondered if others had sat in that spot looking up at the same stars. I imagined they were wondering about people in my day and what we would be like. On the walls of canyons in the four corners area, some of them recorded signs they saw in heaven. Will there be signs in the heavens in our day? For what purpose?
When the Lord returns, a new star will appear in the heavens. It will be marvelous to behold. The whole world will see it together. It will draw closer. Some will say it is a star, others a comet or a planet. There will be much speculation and much explaining away. The scientific community will never accept that it is a sign of the returning Lord.
It is Zion returning. He comes with the City of Enoch, which was taken up. But before He comes, Zion must be established here and prepared to meet Him when He comes. The Lord is working to prepare a people who will be that Zion. They are few in number, cast out because of their beliefs that are not in line with the traditions of the church fathers.
The Mormons are a good people. I know because I was a Mormon for most of my life. I still attend Mormon worship services each Sunday morning with my wife. They love one another. They worship together. They teach each other from church-provided material. They mourn with those who mourn and strive to take care of the poor among them.
But that’s on a local level, where the organization works best. Sadly, the leaders of the LDS Church have been less than honest about the history. I like to give them the benefit of the doubt and say they don’t know better themselves. After all, they grew up in the same culture, were taught the same things and accepted them in good faith and trust.
It’s becoming more and more obvious to anyone who studies LDS Church history that something was lost when Joseph Smith died. Joseph was a prophet of the Lord but that doesn’t mean Brigham Young had the same calling. Nor do the men who lead the LDS Church today have the same calling as Joseph Smith. It’s a hard thing to even ponder.
At one time the church established by Joseph Smith was the true and living church of the Lord. He said so at one time. But the church was condemned and lost the Lord’s blessing. They did not do as he asked of them and lost the fullness of the Priesthood which was among them for a short time. Some things simply cannot be passed from man to man.
Three and four generations have passed. The Lord has set His hand again to gather His people and prepare them for His return. He intends to establish Zion as soon as a people are ready. There are a number of people preparing for that day, doing all they can to help the Lord bring it about. You can learn more by visiting their conference in St. George.
It takes humility to consider the possibility that the LDS Church may not be all that it claims to be. Such a thought can devastate one whose whole world is built upon the belief that all is well in Zion. But in the end, it is the traditions of the fathers that keep one from heeding the voice of the Lord, no matter how hard one wants it to be true.