Remember How You Felt


Jeffrey R. Holland
From a March 1999 BYU devotional address.
The adversary tries to make us doubt or forget every answer to prayer. Moses shows us how to remember.

Remember How You Felt

There is a lesson in the life of Moses that virtually everyone will experience one day. It is the sobering truth that before or after great spiritual moments, there can come adversity, opposition, and darkness. Life has some of those moments for us, as the adversary tries either to keep us from receiving revelation or to make us doubt the light we have received.

The book of Moses begins with him being taken up to “an exceedingly high mountain” where, the scripture says, “he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses” (Moses 1:1–2).

This experience is remarkable by every standard. It is one of the great revelations given in human history. It stands with the greatest accounts we have of any prophet’s experience with divinity.

But Moses’ message to you today is: Don’t let your guard down. Don’t assume that a great revelation is the end of it. Remember, it isn’t over until it’s over. What happened to Moses after his revelatory moment would be ludicrous if it were not so dangerous and so absolutely true to form. In an effort to continue his opposition, Lucifer appeared saying, “Moses, worship me.”

But Moses was not having it, and he rebuked him. “And now, when Moses had said these words, Satan cried with a loud voice, and ranted upon the earth, and commanded, saying: I am the Only Begotten, worship me.

“And it came to pass that Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell. Nevertheless, calling upon God, he received strength, and he commanded, saying: Depart from me, Satan, for this one God only will I worship, which is the God of glory.

“And now Satan began to tremble, and the earth shook. …

“And it came to pass that Satan cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and he departed hence” (see Moses 1:12–22).

So Satan left, always to come again, we can be sure, but always to be defeated by the God of glory—always.

Don’t Lose Confidence

I wish to encourage every one of you regarding opposition that so often comes after enlightened decisions have been made, after moments of revelation and conviction have given us a peace and an assurance we thought we would never lose.

Paul said to those who thought a new testimony, a personal conversion, or a spiritual experience would put them beyond trouble, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.

“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Heb. 10:35–36).

In LDS talk that is to say, “Sure it is tough. But don’t draw back. Don’t panic and retreat. Don’t lose your confidence. Don’t forget how you once felt. Don’t distrust the experience you had.” That tenacity is what saved Moses when the adversary confronted him, and it is what will save you.

This opposition turns up almost anyplace something good has happened. It can happen when you are trying to get an education. It can hit you after your first month in your new mission field. It certainly happens in matters of love and marriage.

Yes, there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been genuine illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. Face your doubts. Master your fears. “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you.

Seek with Real Intent

To help us make our way through these experiences, let me draw from another scriptural reference to Moses. In Doctrine and Covenants section 8 the Lord defined revelation:

“I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

“Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground” (D&C 8:2–3; emphasis added).

Question: Why would the Lord use the example of crossing the Red Sea as the classic example of “the spirit of revelation”? Why didn’t He use the First Vision? Or the example from the book of Moses we just used? Or the vision of the brother of Jared? Well, He could have used any of these, but He didn’t. Here He had another purpose in mind.

First of all, revelation almost always comes in response to a question, usually an urgent question—not always, but usually. Moses’ challenge was how to get himself and the children of Israel out of this horrible predicament they were in. There were chariots behind them, sand dunes on every side, and a lot of water immediately ahead. He needed information all right—what to do—but it wasn’t a casual thing he was asking. In this case it was literally a matter of life and death.

You will need information, too, but in matters of great consequence it is not likely to come unless you want it urgently, faithfully, humbly. Moroni calls it seeking “with real intent” (Moro. 10:4). If you can seek that way, and stay in that mode, not much that the adversary can counter with will dissuade you from a righteous path.

The Red Sea will open to the honest seeker of revelation. The adversary does have power to hedge up the way, to marshal Pharaoh’s forces and dog our escape right to the water’s edge, but he cannot conquer if we will it otherwise. That is lesson number one about crossing the Red Sea, your Red Seas, by the spirit of revelation.

Don’t Turn Back

In the process of revelation and in making important decisions, fear almost always plays a destructive, sometimes paralyzing role.

Did you catch the line in Moses’ account from the Pearl of Great Price? For a moment in that confrontation, “Moses began to fear exceedingly; and as he began to fear, he saw the bitterness of hell” (Moses 1:20). That’s when you see it—when you are afraid.

That is exactly the problem that beset the children of Israel at the edge of the Red Sea. That is lesson number two. It has everything to do with holding fast to earlier illumination. The record says, “And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid” (Ex. 14:10).

But what about that which had already happened? What about the miracles that got them there? How soon we forget. Of course our faith will be tested as we fight through self-doubts and second thoughts. Some days we will be miraculously led out of Egypt—seemingly free, seemingly on our way—only to come to yet another confrontation, like all that water lying before us. At those times we must resist the temptation to panic and to give up.

“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord. … The Lord shall fight for you” (Ex. 14:13–14).

Again, that is the second lesson of the spirit of revelation. After you have gotten the message, after you have paid the price to feel His love and hear the word of the Lord, go forward. Don’t fear, don’t vacillate, don’t quibble, don’t whine.

He Will Provide a Way

The third lesson from the Lord’s spirit of revelation in the miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea is that, if God has told you something is right, if something is indeed true for you, He will provide the way for you to accomplish it. That is true of joining the Church. It is true of getting an education, of going on a mission or of getting married or of any of a hundred worthy tasks in your young lives.

I believe that in our own individual ways, God takes us to the grove or the mountain or the temple and there shows us the wonder of what His plan is for us. We may not see it as fully as Moses or Nephi or the brother of Jared did, but we see as much as we need to see in order to know the Lord’s will for us and to know that He loves us beyond mortal comprehension. I also believe that the adversary and his pinched, calculating little minions try to oppose such experiences and then try to darken them after the fact. But with Paul, I say to all of you:

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.

“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Heb. 10:35–36; emphasis added).

I acknowledge the reality of opposition and adversity, but I bear witness of the God of Glory, of the redeeming Son of God, of light and hope and a bright future. I promise you that God lives and loves you, each one of you, and that He has set bounds and limits to the opposing powers of darkness.

[illustration] The Burning Bush, by Jerry Thompson

[photos] Photography by Christina Smith

[illustration] Moses Parting the Red Sea, by Robert Barrett

[illustration] Moses Reading the Book of the Covenant, by Clark Kelley Price