Sunday, February 19, 2012
Bringing the Thunder
When I was a high schooler, I had one special quality that would drive my father absolutely crazy. I wouldn't get out of bed on time. He would come into my room, and happily wake me, sometimes in Spanish, and tell me it was time to get up. I would mumble and stir and he would leave. I would then immediately fall back asleep. He would come back a little later, a little less happy, and a little louder. Same result. Finally, he would come thundering in - much louder, unhappy, and sometimes with a cup of cold water. I would get up, and ironically, be irritated at him.
I have four sons. I have since been repaid. When I see my father again, I will sincerely apologize.
As we are working our way through the Book of Mormon at home and at church, I have noticed my little wake-up routine described in the scriptures. The earliest mention is with when Nephi was getting after his older brothers for being so rebellious and difficult during their time in the wilderness.
Nephi and Lehi had both spent time trying to help Laman and Lemuel "wake up". The Lord had sent an angel to tell them to knock it off, but they just didn't respond. Even the Lord himself got involved and gave them a talking to. (1 Nephi 16:39) That seemed to do the trick, for a little while.
Finally after hearing them complain about building a boat one too many times, Nephi said:
Ye are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God. Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words; wherefore, he has spoken unto you like unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth to shake as if it were to divide asunder. (1 Nephi 17:45)
-- Please let me interject one little point here: Voice of Thunder = Bad.
Nephi then threatened to bring "The Thunder" and warned them that if they even touched him, they would wither like a reed. (1 Nephi 17:48) Just to help reenforce his point, the Lord had Nephi give them a little taste - a shock - to know he meant business. (For a very immature post regarding this instance, click here)
When you look at what got them to this point, you see that the reason they ended up hearing and feeling the thunder, was simply because they kept ignoring the still, small voice of the Spirit.
Years later, Alma the Younger and his buddies, the sons of Mosiah, were running around wreaking havoc for the church. It got bad enough that Alma the Older and the people had been praying that God would intervene. Intervene He did. It isn't recorded if initially the Holy Ghost has tried a quiet, gentle approach, but it is recorded that He eventually brought the thunder.
And as I said unto you, as they were going about rebelling gainst God, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto them; and he descended as it were in a cloud; and he spake as it were with a voice of thunder, which caused the earth to shake upon which they stood; (Mosiah 27:11)
The result? Alma and friends were knocked to the ground. Alma couldn't talk, couldn't move and "was carried helpless, even until he was laid before his father." (v. 19) Alma the Older loved it, and he "rejoiced". It took two days and nights for his son's strength to return, and when it did, he had repented.
Ironically, when Alma was later expressing his wish "Oh that I were an angel..." (Alma 29:1) he specifically said "Yea I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption..." (v. 2). I guess he figured that since it worked for him, that might be the way to go for others as well.
But we know it isn't. Remember: Thunder=Bad.
If we have gotten to a point where we are experiencing the voice of thunder, we have probably been ignoring the Spirit for too long. Often the voice of thunder is simply a way to get our attention, to wake us up, to get us out of bed.
Even though I know this to be true, I find myself sometimes wanting bigger, fancier answers to prayers. In a small way, it seems that sometimes I am actually seeking the voice of thunder, because I want something more definitive and recognizable that a mere feeling, or prompting.
Yes, this is not a good way to go. But occasionally I do catch myself "seeking a sign".
“Even in our day, many people…expect if there be revelation it will come with awe inspiring, earth-shaking display… The great volume of revelation came to Moses and to Joseph and comes to today’s prophet in the less spectacular way—that of deep impressions, without spectacle or glamour or dramatic events. Always expecting the spectacular, many will miss entirely the constant flow of revealed communication” (President Spencer W. Kimball, in CR Munich Germany Area Conference 1973, pp. 76-77).
My hope is that neither you or I ever need to hear the voice of thunder. I hope that we will be sensitive enough to the Holy Ghost that we will hear, and feel, when he speaks.
Thunder = Bad.
Still, small voice = Good.