Friday, March 7, 2008

Parallel Testimonies

In Country Weekly dated March 10, 2008, is an article about Josh Turner. As you have previously read, I this new country singer and plan on following his career. I just had to buy the magazine to read the article. His story starts on page 28, but the part I would like to discuss today is on page 29, first column, half-way down.

"I was bout 9 years old," he recalls. "One night it was dark, and Daddy had to take the trash off and so I went with him. It wasn't an overcast night at all, and there was just kind of a glow that night.

"On the way back, I noticed there was this light reflectin' off the hood of the car. And I thought, 'I don't remember the moon (when we were) goin'.' And I felt somethin' pull my upper body up into the seat to look through the windshield to see where the light was comin' from.

"And when I looked up in the sky there was a single cloud and it was kind of lit up a little bit, as if a light was shinin' through it. And on the cloud was this lighted figure of this m an holdin' his arms out. And I was just fixated on this for what seemed to be an eternity.

"But I realized what I was seein' was real - and it was Jesus, or at least a portrayal of Him. All of a sudden, I felt somethin' pull me back into the seat and then I saw the light just fade away."
Let me pause here a moment and recount the story of another boy at the age of 14. He went to the Lord in humble supplication for an answer as to which church he should join.

"It was the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty. It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt... to pray vocally. I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me...When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air." (Joseph Smith History 1: 14, 16 - 17 (paraphrased) To be referred to as JSH.)
Back to Josh and Country Weekly page 29, top of the second column, second paragraph:

"Josh waited a week or two before telling anyone about it, because he was trying to process it all.

"I was askin' questions, I was prayin',' he declares. "I was like, 'Lord, why did you let me see this? What was the reason behind it? Was what I saw real?'

"I finally sat my parents down and told them what I had seen. They completely supported me, they believed me. They agreed that I had seen Jesus right there in the sky like that."
Josh later shared his story with his Sunday school class and, eventually, with the entire church.

Joseph Smith's account continued:

"No sooner,...did I get possession of myself,...than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the (churches) was right."

"Some few days after I had this vision, I happened to be in company with one of the Methodist preachers, and, conversing with him on the subject of religion , I took occasion to give him an account of the vision which I had had." (JSH 1: 18, 21 (paraphrased))
Let's stop here a moment. Here we are reading two stories with a great many similarities between the two. Josh at the time did not know why he had been blessed to see what he had seen, and Joseph who went in search of answers to his questions. Both testify that they saw Heavenly Personages, both talked to religious officials about their experiences, but here is where the differences really begin.

Josh talks of the acceptance of his parents, his peers and his congregation. Joseph had the support of his parents, but let's read what happened to Joseph when he shared his experience with a minister.

"I was greatly surprised at his behavior; he treated my communication not only lightly, but with great contempt, saying it was all of the devil, that there were no such things as visions or revelations in these days; that all such things had ceased with the apostles, and that there would never be any more of them. I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was thh cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution, and this was common among all the (churches) - all united to persecute me." (JSH 1: 21 - 22)
What a difference!!!! Country Weekly goes on to quote Josh Turner as saying "I'm here to bring people hope and a sense of joy." The same can be said of Joseph Smith. Both men desire only to do the will of God and fulfill their divine mission.

Do I believe Josh Turner's story? Absolutely. Does his story reconfirm my testimony of Joseph Smith? Absolutely again. I do have to wonder about the public difference in the acceptance of both testimonies. Joseph himself asked:

"Why persecute me for telling the truth?"

"It seems as though the adversary was aware, at a very early period of my life, that I was destined to prove a disturber and an annoyer of his kingdom; else why should the powers of darkness combine against me? Why the opposition and persecution that arose against me, almost in my infancy?" (JSH 1: 20)
Joseph's mission from our Heavenly Father was for the salvation and exaltation of mankind. Satan wants others to be miserable like unto him. Joseph's mission was to be for the eternal welfare of man through the ages. Josh's mission is for the temporal relief and uplifting of man's spirit for their walk in mortality. Joseph's mission has great eternal promise. This is why the very jaws hell itself were open wide against him.

Where does that leave me? With a stronger testimony of the divine calling of a prophet of God and a sweeter spirit of hope to get me through the day.

1 comment:

Candace E. Salima said...

Very insightful, Linda. Thank you for sharing it with us!