I'd like to share a recent experience with you that points to the kindness of God and perhaps His desire for us to appreciate the wonders of His artwork in nature. I just got back from a wonderful vacation in the western United States (mostly southern Utah), where the wonders of God's creation can overwhelm the observer. (The majesty of one location -- Cedar Breaks National Monument -- literally brought my wife to tears.) A geologist and relative of mine, Paul Crosby, had taken us on a brief tour around the St. George area, explaining some of the processes that had created such strange beauty. A few days later, my three-year old son and I were walking along a deserted trail (once a road) on Butler Hill, right next to the Wasatch Mountains [near Big Cottonwood Canyon] by Salt Lake City. I was surprised at the huge variety of rocks I was finding -- igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary, in many colors and shapes. I paused and examined the setting and the beautiful mountains and wondered how such variety was possible on that former shore of Lake Bonneville.
As I looked over the valley and recalled the inspiring morning with a geologist a few days earlier, I wished that I could talk to a geologist again to better appreciate that part of God's creation. My son and I then returned to picking through the many rock piles, looking for treasures of beauty. Just moments later, a man and his dog strolled by on that isolated lane. He interrupted us, saying, "I noticed that you are looking at the rocks here." Before I could say anything, he began to explain why there was such a variety of rocks to be found. The road that once went up this hill had been closed off by dumping random truckloads of rocks from around the state of Utah -- whatever rocks Salt Lake County happened to have it its trucks. As a result, there were varieties of lava rock from southern Utah, rocks from the Oquirrh mountain range, granites from Alta Canyon, metamorphic rocks from elsewhere in the Salt Lake area, and even some loads containing Indian artifacts.
I was impressed and asked him how he was so well informed. "I'm a geologist for the State of Utah and have studied this area." Thrilled, I bombarded him with a number of other questions before he had to go, thus learning the identities of many of the rocks that had stirred my curiosity. It was a true treat for me -- and a marvelous blessing.Blessings of love, comfort, and knowledge, the tender mercies of the Lord, can come in quiet, easy moments or in times of turmoil even as we are in distress and the powers of darkness rage against us. We may not find the relief we want now in our biggest trials here in mortality, but we can find treasures of knowledge, inspiration and evidences of God's love.
The Lord may seem to ignore most of our foolish pleas and may choose to let us suffer pain and disappointment for our own good, somehow, but through it all His loving kindness shows in marvelous ways. That gentle but flagrant act of kindness -- sending a geologist to visit me on an isolated stretch of long-closed road -- shows me something about the loving Parent we worship. Not only is He kind, but He wants us to know about His works and appreciate them -- even to the point of sending a geologist our way at just the right time.
It was in what may have been Joseph Smith's darkest hour, after months of suffering in the cold, gloomy prison called Liberty Jail, when he turned to the Lord in anguish, as recorded in Section 121 of the Doctrine and Covenants from March 1839, and wondered where God was and how He could ignore the cries of the suffering Saints who had been driven from their homes by violent mobs. The Lord answered but did not remove the problems. But He did give assurance and revelation. Interestingly, part of this assurance and revelation dealt with the wonders of the Creation and the details that would be revealed in the future:
26 God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now;God seems to care about the details and wonders of the Creation, and I think we should, too. These words in Section 121 echo a previous revelation from 1833, recorded in Section 101, when the Lord hinted at what would be revealed in the great Millennium about the glory of the Creation. But what good is that to those who will have died already? Do they miss out on those blessings? Section 101 kindly reminds us all of us can participate in those blessings of knowledge and glory and that we need not worry about missing out, though patience will be needed:
27 Which our forefathers have awaited with anxious expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fulness of their glory;
28 A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest.
29 All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
30 And also, if there be bounds set to the heavens or to the seas, or to the dry land, or to the sun, moon, or stars—
31 All the times of their revolutions, all the appointed days, months, and years, and all the days of their days, months, and years, and all their glories, laws, and set times, shall be revealed in the days of the dispensation of the fulness of times—
32 According to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods before this world was, that should be reserved unto the finishing and the end thereof, when every man shall enter into his eternal presence and into his immortal rest.
33 Things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof—
34 Things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven.
35 And all they who suffer persecution for my name, and endure in faith, though they are called to lay down their lives for my sake yet shall they partake of all this glory.
The knowledge the Lord wishes to share in the future about the Creation is described as "most precious," and is part of what the Lord describes as "glory" of which we can partake. This earth, this galaxy, this cosmos, are majestic and glorious and to know them is to encounter the glory of God in a sense. This is knowledge to seek, to yearn for, to treasure, and today, more of that is already available than ever before in human history. What a wonderful time to be alive!
And yet what a trying and difficult time for many, a time that challenges us to do more to bring relief and hope to other, to do more to proclaim peace, to do more to prepare for trouble ahead, to do more to resist the evil and pain that interrupts the joy that should be found in our lives. There are still greater trials ahead for this planet and far more tears to be shed, though none of us will have to descend below what Christ has taken upon Himself in bearing our sins and tasting our pains in His infinite Atonement. The great Creator Himself, the Son of God who carried out the Creation under direction of the Father, also took the pains and anguish of our sins upon Him that He might be able to comfort us and bring true deliverance in the end thus fulfilling the grand purposes of the Creation. That is the greatest source of glory in God's creative work.