Earthquakes and the Savior Coming

Pinnable image of forest, Come Follow Me Earthquakes and the Savior Coming

September 19-25

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For this week in Come Follow Me, we see some more warnings about the Second Coming.

Isaiah 40:4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:

In case you were wondering…this is a literal prophecy.

Quick science lesson. Earthquakes happen when giant pieces of the earth run into each other, drift apart, or slide past each other. The earth is made up of giant puzzle pieces (tectonic plates) that run into each other. They are always vibrating and moving, but sometimes they get stuck on jagged edges. The rest of the puzzle piece keeps trying to move, and eventually that movement overcomes the friction of the two pieces that are running into each other. That’s where the earthquake happens. Sometimes the earthquakes are so small you can’t even feel them; other times, they are extraordinarily destructive. Apparently this prophesied earthquake is going to be a pretty big deal. 

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught that there would be an earthquake before the Second Coming. This earthquake would literally level mountains, exalt valleys, and rough places would become smooth. It would be so destructive that the sun would be darkened.

It makes me think of the Nephites. The whole earth was in commotion for a while, followed by three days of darkness, and then the Savior came. This sounds eerily familiar. Perhaps it will be very similar to the Second Coming. Everything explodes, darkness reigns for a bit, and then Christ comes. Luckily, if we have a relationship with Christ, we will see the earthquake and darkness and remember that Christ is coming. 

Coming closer to the Savior

So there seems to be a pattern of earthquakes before Christ appears. I find this extremely significant when I think about the duality of Isaiah’s prophecies. Surely he was speaking about the literal Second Coming, but perhaps he was also teaching us about what it takes for us to be prepared to welcome the Savior.

I have prayed multiple times over the course of my life for help in getting to know the Savior. I’ve asked Him to help me feel a very real relationship with Him rather than just an abstract love I proclaim. I don’t want to worship a stranger. I want to feel a connection with Him that is so strong that I don’t need to see Him in order to be confident in His legitimacy.

The Lord has only just begun in answering this prayer. However, it’s happened in a few different ways, and I’m starting to recognize a pattern. 

Approaching the Savior means facing earthquakes. Sometimes these earthquakes come to us in the form of trials, but other times, these earthquakes come as groundbreaking, paradigm-shifting realizations about the gospel and oneself.

Temporal earthquakes

I have never been in an earthquake that I’ve felt. However, I’ve been in other tough times that brought about similar effects.

Consider how life on earth might change after the giant earthquake. People will suddenly realize that money isn’t edible, the tallest buildings are fragile, the prettiest home decor is not as pretty in the dark, and Instagram was not as cool as we thought it was. 

It will be quiet and dark. Surely our willingness to prepare 72 hour kits will come in handy at this point (anyone else see the fact that the Nephites were in darkness for 72 hours?). There will be very few comforts outside of what’s in your heart and relationships. You’ll get to spend time with those you love, and you’ll get to spend a lot of time with yourself. What will you find there? Will you realize that everything that mattered to you turned up empty?

There are plenty of soul-shaking circumstances available in mortality to help us wake up and realize what matters. There are experiences that make us see how vulnerable we are and how vulnerable all of humanity is. This hopefully comes with a healthy dose of humility, soul-searching, and refocusing.

Though there is much to be said on temporal “earthquakes” and their spiritual effects, I would like to focus on a different kind of earthquake.

Spiritual earthquakes

Surely, temporal “earthquakes” can have spiritual effects in our lives, for better or worse. But there are also earthquakes that are purely spiritual. There are earthquakes in our lives that level valleys and create mountains in who we are and what we believe. These earthquakes sometimes leave darkness for a period of time, and sometimes these earthquakes completely change the face of our testimony and what we know about ourselves. 

I’m talking about an epiphany earthquake. Sometimes it involves a period of confusion, and sometimes it involves the ground feeling unsteady for a while.

These earthquakes can have different triggers. Perhaps this trigger comes in the form of a new church policy, claims regarding church history, or clarified points of doctrine. 

Other times these triggers come in the form of meeting a new friend with a different perspective on life. They can come when a family member or close friend leaves the church and inevitably forces you to face how you really feel about the church. 

There will be times in our lives when we deeply, painfully question what we believe. There will be times when we can no longer sit still and pretend that worries are non-existent. As I said before, there is a moment when these floating pieces get stuck on each other for a bit. The tectonic plates keep moving, and the pieces rip off of each other or grind against each other and you get the earthquake. In your spiritual life, there may be a moment (or more plausibly, moments), when we get stuck long enough that the pressure builds, everything snaps, and we’re forced to face what we really believe. 

Sometimes those earthquakes leave us feeling shaken. Maybe some aspects of what we believe have shifted or maybe there are aspects of our self-knowledge that have rearranged. Other times earthquakes are massive enough to leave us in darkness for a time.

With temporal earthquakes, the sun is going to shine again regardless of what humans are doing. With spiritual earthquakes, we kinda have to choose the light. We have to choose whether we’re going to let the Savior help us rebuild afterwards or whether we’re going to try and build it ourselves. 

There are many aspects of who we are and what we believe that need to change. The only way to do this is to get torn down every once in a while so that it can be rebuilt correctly. The key is making sure we turn to the Savior as we rebuild. The key is to remember that the earthquakes and deep doubts can turn into merciful blessings that allow the Savior to be more fully present in our lives. 

There will be pieces of you and your testimony that are on high ground. They may get torn down dramatically; there will be self-made-mountains that are completely leveled. When you turn to the Savior, you’ll realize you didn’t need those high points. They weren’t serving you.

Some rough places will be made smooth. There may be pieces of yourself and the church that seem too treacherous to walk through right now. However, some day, an earthquake will come and smoothen out the land in ways that you didn’t know was possible.

There will be pieces of you and your testimony that are low like a valley. In the presence of earthquakes, these valleys rise up and become great mountains. In the scriptures, mountains often symbolize temples and I don’t think this is coincidence. Perhaps there are aspects of your questions, doubts, or beliefs that feel like they’re bringing you down; they’re low like a valley. These places will become spaces of sacred remembrance where you recall experiences you had with your Savior. Those will literally become sacred temples to you. I’m sure it’s difficult to imagine your doubts turning into sacred remembrances, but that’s only because it may still be dark for now. 

Even if the Nephites has prayed for the darkness to lift early, I don’t know that that Savior would have obliged. The earthquakes and darkness are miracles from our Savior that will give you your most sacred experiences if you continue to turn towards your Savior. 

I am grateful for life’s earthquakes. I am grateful for how the Lord has shifted my beliefs so that I could see more clearly. I’m grateful for how He continually tears down the unnecessary and builds up mountains in my life. I am grateful that He’s built worlds before and that He has the master plan for what my world needs to look like. 

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