Moroni saw me daily
Temples are the central feature of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints that points the Saints to Jesus and eternal covenants with Him. I type in my journal of that experience says latter,
"On September 19, 1998, Saturday I went to the Atlanta Temple for the first time to received my own endowments. I at first was nervous about what to expect. I didn't really know all that I would need to do.
Now that I have gone through, I know what I need to know to enter the celestial kingdom to the highest degree--after I have finished all I can in this life.
This experience is one of constant remembrance. I shall not too soon forget my first temple cession. Brother T. Burns escorted me through the temple. I wanted A. Burns or Brother Alderman to do so, but the Spirit with either of these men or Brother Burns would have been the same.
I was happy, almost giddy. The Spirit testified to me that it was true. Though, as the hours pass, Satan tempts me with things, it does not diminish my experience. For the entire time, Satan has no power over me. The blessings of the temple has set me free from his grasp--if I remain true and faithful to my covenants."
That experience was a gift. September 19, 2019 marks 21 years. What better way than to go to the temple to commemorate that sacred experience?
"I would exhort you, my beloved brethren," admonishes Moroni, "that ye remember that every good gift cometh of Christ." [Moroni 10:18] What has Moroni see in you?
When I arose this Sunday morning, I did so to a swollen stiff body. The first thing I said to myself was, "I'm not going to church." I was tired and hurt and upset that another day was happening where I could not function like a normal person.
Swollen legs made it hard to walk or function. My hands did not work the fluid way I wanted to take my morning pills. Reading in New Testament and hearing the healings that Jesus and the apostles gave, I fumed silently that I could not get that same healing.
Jealous of those people, I went to church. The primary kids performed a program. Their voices soften my mood and gladdened my heart. The last song they sang caused me to cry. Listen.
In Sunday School, the lesson spoke of trials of life. Again, my self-pity opened the wound from this morning of not having the healing from God that I wanted. As the lesson proceeded, Afryka Unyque, my wife, asked a question that I felt too afraid to asked.
She wanted to know why the righteous suffer even when the Scriptures explicitly state that we will prosper in the land. The people not keeping the commandments seem to prosper more.
Following her question came a shower of loving, embarrassingly so, compliments about our family. The most important thought came through my friend Colby from his grandmother.
She taught him that God is slow but He always comes. Tears filled my eyes and the eyes of the other participants in class as we discussed the tender mercy of God and how He helps us through our trials. No matter how hard it gets in life, Jesus Christ suffered those pains for us so that He would know how to succor us when our time came to endure a trail. Death and tragedy are not necessarily punishments, but teaching tools to help us become more like Heavenly father.
God informed Moroni, "If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." [Ether 16:27] What has Moroni seen in you?
Years ago sparked for me the beginning of a terrible conclusion that I would rather have never considered. Losing myself was the conclusion. Everything about me over the next twenty years of my life would diminish into nothingness. Blind eyes and tinted mind, what defined me were the things that I could do with my physicality, my body alone.
First went my health. The phrase that people say when the bad things happen, "At least you have your health," would no longer apply to me. After my mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I received a diagnosis for diabetes. That was no problem to me until it was.
Years of losing to the control of that disease brought with it other complications. It weakened my immune system. Not an issue to me. I had a strong body!
It affected my sight. Not and issue, glasses and contacts work.
In and out of the hospital for hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels as a result of uncontrolled diabetes), insulin works!
Weight gain? P90X did the job very well!
Injury to my foot, swollen infected legs, and high blood pressure? Okay, wait.
That spelled the beginning of the end of my once happy-go-lucky smiling all the time behavior. Then came the pain, constant pain. Then came the wheelchair and the loss of muscle. Then came the recovery only to end up in the same predicament. During recovery came the discovery that I had epilepsy. Then came the treatments that almost ended my life. I lost the ability to work. I lost the energy to socialize. Still happy through it all, I fought through. I forced myself to work. I forced myself to participate in life though I hurt constantly from head to toe.
Then it happened. My body stopped doing what I forced it to do. I could not jump one day. Then soon I could not run. Later I could not walk without support. I could not shower with ease anymore. I could not put my clothing on without concentrating because I lost most of the feeling in my legs and much of the grip strength in my hands. Oh, function came back in spurts for almost two years until they didn't come back.
That's when my doubts came. No longer was I a real man because I could not protect my family or provide for my family. Depression came when I started to believe that I was worthless. Every day I prayed to God to take me until I lost my life insurance. I stopped reaching out to my friends. I wanted to die so that I would not burden my wife and kids.
Recorded Mormon regarding what happened among the children of Lehi once the resurrected Jesus Christ appeared to them, "When Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them. And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you. Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy. For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you. [3 Nephi 17:5-8]
Was not I a faithful believer in Christ? Why can't Jesus heal me of my lameness, poor eyesight, or many afflictions? I have faith to be healed. I know He can heal me! Does he have no compassion for me? Do I not have sufficient faith? No. He loves me and I know I have the faith. Why not me?
Moroni says to me, "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." [Ether 12:6]
What, then, is the trial of my faith, I ask of God. This is dragging me in to hopelessness. What is my trial? What does Moroni have to say about that!?
Preserved by Moroni's hands are the words of King Benjamin in answer to my plea, "becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."
The trial of my faith is to be submissive, easy to approach, humble, patient, loving, and willing to go through any trial. I must be willing to submit to whatever God sees fit to allow to happen in my life--my illnesses.
To win at life, I must be willing to lose at what once defined me as Rodric Anthony Johnson and accept what God puts before me to become a better person.
As Moroni wrote of what Jesus spoke to him, "if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." [Ether 12:27] What has Moroni seen of you?