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I want to focus on two verses today for this post. These verses, when placed together, teach us something. We’ll dissect one verse at a time before putting them together.
Saw Them Not
Ether 12:5 And it came to pass that Ether did prophesy great and marvelous things unto the people, which they did not believe, because they saw them not.
I believe I read this verse differently than the author originally intended; perhaps this is because of some of my recent experiences.
I might be crazy for voicing some of this, but I suppose I will anyway. Periodically, I find myself a little discouraged when I read about incredible people in the scriptures. They were given tremendous works to do by the Lord. I start to wonder why I haven’t been able to prove myself worthy of big responsibilities. Not that I necessarily desire the big responsibilities, but because I wonder if there is something innately wrong with my spirit. Perhaps I simply don’t have enough light in me to be that good and do that amount of good. I’ve always wondered why some spirits choose to follow Heavenly Father and why some don’t. We were all raised by perfect Parents before coming here so why did we all turn out so differently? Is there something in our nature that causes us to simply not have it within us to choose the right path in the end? I’m sure I’m missing some pretty critical points of doctrine there, but it usually leads me along the path of wondering why I can’t get myself together enough to be trusted with the same works as some of His prophets and leaders.
I don’t question why He won’t give me responsibility; I question why I can’t seem to get myself together so that He can give me those responsibilities.
Anyway, I was reading about all of these miracles that were occurring by faith in chapter 12 of Ether, and that old familiar feeling found its way back. Why was my faith so lacking? Why couldn’t I bring about the same kind of miracles and knowledge? It was then that the Spirit whispered to me that the miracles were all there occurring around me; I just couldn’t see them.
And so my prayers have changed since then. I’ve been praying for eyes to see the miracles.
And so verse 5. They did not believe because they saw them not. As I’ve read about the last days, it is only as my faith grew that I could see the signs. As I’ve gone about my daily life, it is only through praying for the right eyes that I’ve seen the miracles.
Hoped For and Not Seen
Ether 12:6 And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
So I just spent an entire section talking about how you need to open your eyes to see the miracles; this verse speaks of the fact that faith is a hope for things that are not seen. When I went back to the previous verse (verse 5) and looked up the footnote for the word “saw,” it led me to scriptures that reaffirm the message in this one. People could not physically see Christ. They could not see visions of the ends of times. They could not see the heavens open before them. That is why they didn’t believe; they couldn’t physically see it.
But I appreciated that I read it “wrong” the first time because alas, it taught me that we have to be looking with the right kind of eyes to see what’s most important.
Lo and behold. Someone figured that out a long time ago, and they’ve been trying to teach it for some time now (see next verse).
Beholding With an Eye of Faith
Ether 12:19 And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad.
We have to behold things spiritually before we can behold them physically or it will be of no use to us. That’s why an angel was able to help Saul but not Laman and Lemuel. They were all doing terrible things, but Saul already believed in angels spiritually before he saw the angel physically.
God may be protecting us and holding us in His hands from day to day. We can see examples of it, but until we learn to see it spiritually, we don’t find the peace. I can look in the past and see physical examples of how the Lord has protected me, but I have to see it spiritually if I want it to influence how I feel about my safety in the future.
Physical miracles may be surrounding us physically, and we may have no clue unless we are discerning them spiritually.
Ether spoke to God face to face after Ether had spoken to God spiritually for a long time. As he built the boat and continually received conversation from God, his faith was growing that he was, in fact, receiving it directly from the Lord. He saw, with an eye of faith, Christ directing him as he built the boats. Then he saw Christ standing before him physically, conversing with him and teaching him, just as he had seen him spiritually.
Do I see Him near me as I go about my day, on my right and left and front and back? Do I see Him near me, listening as I pray? Do I see Him speaking with me when I receive my revelation? Do I see His hand working miracles in my life in the same way that Christ’s hands moved in His mortal life? Do I see Him spiritually?
How do you convince someone to look with the right eyes?
When you have a little bit of faith already going for you, it’s easy to open your eyes even more. If you’re in a well-lit room, it doesn’t hurt your eyes nearly as much when you step into the sunlight.
How do you convince someone sitting in darkness to open their eyes?
Isn’t that the question of our lives? Once we’ve seen (even to a minimal extent!) spiritually, we want our loved ones to see too. How do we help them see spiritually?
Well how are physical eyes similar to spiritual eyes? How are they different?
If you want someone to see something with their physical eyes, it can help when you describe it to them. It’s harder to recognize it if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Think of how hard it can be to see a lion at the zoo (depending on how far away they are, of course). Now imagine how much harder it is if you don’t know what a lion looks like.
Describe it. Tell them. Testify. But be patient with them as they look. No matter how well or how often you describe it they still have to find it on their own.
The more often we look for something with our physical eyes, the more likely we are to see it. The more we practice using our spiritual eyes, the more likely we are to see spiritual things. If the lion is in the back of the enclosure, it may take time to find him.
Give ample opportunities. That doesn’t mean constantly preaching. There are more ways to invite the Spirit so that there is more opportunity to find it.
Sometimes when you describe something to someone physically, they may still have the wrong picture of it in their head. If they have the wrong picture in the head, it will be that much harder to find it. I’ve learned that the Spirit can bridge communication gaps. Even if you are imperfect at descriptions, inviting the Spirit allows for the Spirit to teach them and give them the correct picture.
In the end, you can never force someone to look with spiritual eyes. You may be able to force someone to look at something physically, but you will never be able to force someone to see spiritually. It’s impossible; even with your young children. And as much as we like the idea of forcing our children to walk the path of righteousness, forcing will never answer the Plan of Salvation. Even if we could force them, they would not grow enough to prepare to become like their Heavenly Father. There are many things we can do to help them see spiritually, but forcing is not one of them. In fact, I’ve found that trying to force someone often drives away the Spirit, thus completely defeating the purpose of them trying to see spiritually.
There are principles in these chapters for how we can better live our lives, and there are principles in these chapters on how to help our loved ones.