A Constantly Renewed Stream

This is the text of a talk I gave in my ward (Ann Arbor 2nd) on February 15, 2015.

I would like to explore one of the concepts from President Eyring’s October talk on the subject of continuing revelation [1], and share with you some of my experiences as I have sought revelation.

President Eyring said “We need revelation from God. And we will need not just one revelation in a time of stress, but we need a constantly renewed stream. We need not just one flash of light and comfort, but we need the continuing blessing of communication with God.” [2]

Today, I would like to focus on that concept of a “constantly renewed stream” of revelation.

The Ninth Article of Faith is that “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” [3] As I have pondered this week, I realized that there is a great power in personalizing this scripture so that it reads “I believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and I believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the life of Brady Emmett.”

Like many of you, I have sought revelation in the past: when I gained a first testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, while on my mission seeking to know the Lord’s will for my service, as I sought the Savior’s love in times of darkness.  It is important to remember that the Lord has blessed us with revelation over time.  One of the reasons is so that you remember that because you have received revelation in the past, you can do so now.  Life is not straight forward. Your path zigs and zags in ways that you probably never expected, and so you should recall that when you are feeling lost, you can ask for a guiding light.  And there is so much life in front of us, that you can be sure that God will reveal more and more to you, and when He does you should believe it.

“All that He has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and all that He will yet reveal.”  Or as President Eyring might say, a “constantly renewed stream” of revelation.

That constantly renewed stream of revelation is our right and our privilege.  President Uchtdorf reminded us to  “Think of what a glorious thing it is to reach beyond our earthly limitations, to have the eyes of our understanding opened and receive light and knowledge from celestial sources! It is our privilege and opportunity …  to seek personal revelation and to learn how to know the truth for ourselves through the sure witness of the Holy Spirit.”   [4]

He is right.  It is a glorious thing when we reach beyond our earthly limitations, to seek light and understanding.  And it is a glorious thing when we get it.

Chieko Okazaki, a councilor in the Relief Society General presidency, and someone who has recently become a personal hero of mine, taught that “We have a responsibility to take our questions to God and struggle with those questions in the process of receiving revelation. Will my personal direction from God be the same as yours? I don’t think so. We’re individuals. God deals with us as individuals. This is the same God who made not just apples but pears and apricots and persimmons and grapes. He likes diversity. He invented it.” [5]

It really is true!  We are all individuals, and we all have our struggles, and we all receive different revelation regarding our path.  Please allow me a moment of vulnerability to share some of my experiences seeking that personal revelation.

As a gay Latter-day Saint, I have struggled mightly as I have taken my questions to the Lord, to seek direction for my life.  For a long time, I prayed consistently that I would understand my path and see where I needed to go.  One day, several years ago, I looked back and I realized that I had been guided step by step and had gained a knowledge of that path, even though at the time it felt like I was only seeing the next step down the road.

Step by step, as I sought a “constantly renewed stream of revelation,” I received it.  Ideally, I would have liked to know the end from the beginning, but as I looked back, I realized that I wouldn’t have been able to jump straight to the end.  I started with seeking  the courage to seek help, discussing my situation with my bishop.  I sought courage to try therapy, and then courage to realize that therapy wasn’t going to fundamentally change me.  I eventually gained the insight that I shouldn’t seek marriage to a woman, that it wouldn’t be fair to her and it wouldn’t be fair to me.

Looking back, I can see that I gained the revelation that I needed, at the time I needed it.  I don’t think that I could have jumped from the start to the end of that process.  I wouldn’t have been prepared for it, and the growth that the Lord had in mind for me wouldn’t have happened.  In hindsight, I can see that my prayers were answered, that I did understand my path, but I understood it one step at a time.  Or as the scriptures might say, “Line upon line, precept upon precept.”

I like to think of this as the Sunrise style of revelation.  When I was in the MTC, one morning, my companions and I went out to watch the sunrise. It got lighter and lighter, and the day broke, but because of the high mountains east of Provo, we never actually did see the sun.  But we knew it was day.  The sunlight had filled the sky.  Much of the time revelation is like that.

Elder Bednar confirmed that when he taught  “The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God “line upon line, precept upon precept” ( 2 Nephi 28:30 ). Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness, and preparation. Such communications from Heavenly Father gradually and gently “distil upon [our souls] as the dews from heaven”” [6]

I also like what President Uchtdorf taught about Sunrise style revelation. “The truth is, those who diligently seek to learn of Christ eventually will come to know Him. They will personally receive a divine portrait of the Master, although it most often comes in the form of a puzzle—one piece at a time. Each individual piece may not be easily recognizable by itself; it may not be clear how it relates to the whole. Each piece helps us to see the big picture a little more clearly. Eventually, after enough pieces have been put together, we recognize the grand beauty of it all. Then, looking back on our experience, we see that the Savior had indeed come to be with us—not all at once but quietly, gently, almost unnoticed.” [7]

There is another type of revelation that I like to think of as the lightbulb revelation.  Sometimes what you need to know is so urgent that you have a flash of insight, a complete knowledge.

Some months after I had decided that I should not seek marriage to a woman, I was struggling with some doubts.  Gay Latter-day saints sometimes receive conflicting messages, and I was praying to know that I mattered to God, that He was aware of my situation and my struggles, and that I was worthy of his love.  (Sometimes you doubt it).  And all at once, I felt an answer to my prayer, I felt an unconditional love and an affirmation that I mattered to my Heavenly Father, and that I was ok, every part of me, the gay part and the Latter-day Saint part.  It was a lightbulb revelation moment, the Lord flipped a switch and I just knew.

I believe that we need to seek both types of revelations.  I believe most of it will come slowly, “distilling as dews from heaven,” but sometimes, when you need it, you will receive that flash of insight.  Both are part of that “constantly renewing stream” of revelation that President Eyring mentioned.

I personally don’t know what the rest of my life will look like.  I face challenges, just like everyone else, and my path might be a little more obscure, but I believe that as I look for it, I will find the revelation which is my right and my privilege to receive.

I believe that God has revealed many things to each of us, that He does continue to reveal those things we seek, and that He will yet reveal many great and important things to us.  I hope that you believe that too.

May our stream of revelation be constantly renewed, and may the dews of heaven distill upon our hearts and our souls.

_ _ _ _ _ _

[1] Continuing Revelation – Henry B Eyring – October 2014, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/continuing-revelation?lang=eng

[2]  Continuing Revelation – Henry B Eyring – October 2014, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/10/continuing-revelation?lang=eng

[3] Article of Faith 9, https://www.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/a-of-f/1.9

[4] Your Potential, Your Privilege – Dieter F. Uchtdorf –April 2011, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/04/your-potential-your-privilege?lang=eng

[5] Chieko Okazaki, Disciples (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1998), 52, as retrieved from http://www.liberalmormon.net/109per.shtml

[6] The Spirit of Revelation – David A. Bednar – April 2011,  https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/04/the-spirit-of-revelation?lang=eng

[7] Waiting on the Road to Damascus – Dieter F. Uchtdorf – April 2011, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/04/waiting-on-the-road-to-damascus?lang=eng

One thought on “A Constantly Renewed Stream”

  1. Beautifully delivered talk on revelation. It inspires me to seek that constant stream in my life. thank you.

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