It was 4:30 am and I had just awakened from a haunting dream that left me sweating and rattled. It was not a typical dream. It was still so vivid in its detail and would not leave me. It was just a dream, I told myself, trying to shake off the more troubling memories as they replayed in my mind. Sleep had not come easily this particular night and now I was awake knowing that I had committed to meet an 18 year old coworker at the temple early this morning before work to act as his escort as he received his personal endowment.
Interesting, as members we use the term “endowment” when we go through the temple, but in the years following my own endowment I have learned it really is “an ordinance with an invitation to receive the endowment” and not the actual endowment that those who “seek, learn and do” ultimately receive. I have been prompted, I should say led by the spirit, to write about this topic soon and I hope to do so this week, but I have also been led to first share this story about a dream and how it changed my life.
I got up, showered and drove to the temple anticipating the experience and feelings that my young friend would have today. His parents were not active members of the church and disapproved of his decision to serve a mission for the church. We had talked at work about life, my missionary experiences, the temple and the gospel in action in our daily lives. A week ago he told me he had asked his bishop and received permission to ask if I would be willing to act as his escort. I told him it would be an honor and now here I was.
As I entered the foyer of the temple I saw my friend waiting beyond the front desk. My temple recommend was inspected and I was ushered into the patron lobby where we were met, taken to an office and given the itinerary of the morning. After the initial greeting and instructions I was invited to go up to the chapel on the 2nd floor where I could wait until I was needed.
I had grown up in the church with an active father and mother. We had Family Home Evening each week, and morning and evening family and personal prayers. I attended Primary, Sunday School and Sacrament meeting every Sunday. At the age of 12 I enrolled in and attended released time Seminary for an hour every school day until I graduated High School. When I enrolled in college at the church sponsored Ricks College and later Brigham Young University I took a religion class every semester. I served a 2 year full time mission for the church where I studied the scriptures individually and with the other missionaries each day. After returning from my mission I continued to study the gospel of Jesus Christ on my own multiple times a week and taught classes to both the adults and the youth. During all of this I was in no way perfect. In fact I was a pretty typical person, struggling with my own demons and weaknesses. However, I understood the gospel fairly well and despite my imperfections I repented weekly and endured in the gospel, placing my trust in the atonement and never giving up. I had read that Lehi, later to become the prophet patriarch, had seen visions and dreamed dreams. I learned that his son Nephi, who would follow his father as prophet, had believed his father and asked God to see the things his father had seen. Nephi was allowed to see the same, and experience dreams and visions. It just made sense that if I believed them, and had a desire, and if I asked sincerely, I could experiences dreams and visions. This was one of the desires of my heart. So I asked frequently and waited patiently, believing that if Heavenly Father was willing, I would in time have them.
I knew the way and as I entered the chapel it was entirely empty. It was a Thursday and close to 6:00 am and only my young friend was receiving his own endowment so for the next 30 minutes I would be alone. I sat down looking around. There was a life sized picture at the front of the chapel depicting the Savior in his triumphal second coming. There were scriptures in holders on the back of each bench. As I gazed around the chapel I silently asked, “What should I do while I wait?”
As I sat pondering, I was again caught away in the same dream of last night. However, I was wide awake and there was a slight difference. I was made to know that there was a purpose and a meaning to the dream.
It was a clear warm evening and my family consisting of myself, my wife Jodi, and our teen age daughters Jessi and Lynsey had just arrived at a large party for all our friends and neighbors. The party was held in a spectacularly built open air court in a mountain valley adjacent to a large meadow which had a river running through it and alongside the court. We walked in excited anticipation toward the laughter and music, enjoying the beauty of the setting. The court was expansive and filled with buffet tables, games for all ages, amazing music and a carnival atmosphere of wholesome excitement and fun. The walls of the court were chest high and appeared to be translucent, emitting a beautiful warm glow.
The evening was spent in joyous socializing, eating and watching the children playing. The enjoyment and peacefulness was palpable. Unexpectedly, as the sun faded away to dusk most of the older children decided that it would be more fun to play night games and they came begging to be allowed to leave the brightly lit court and run and play in the darkening meadow. They could not be persuaded otherwise so with promises to stay away from the river and to be careful we reluctantly let them leave.
The children playfully flirted and laughed as they chased and played tag. Before long they were on the river bank, goading each other to wet their feet and wade in the shallow water. I loudly reminded them of their promise which they remembered and heeded for a time, but the next time I looked they were deeper in the river, tripping, splashing and swimming. They were totally absorbed in the fun of the moment and didn’t see what I saw. A large crocodile had entered the river and was silently making his way down stream toward them. I could read his emotion and feel the evil intent of this monster to cut short the lives, to destroy and to consume as many of the youth as he could.
I jumped up and ran to the wall of the court, trying to alert them to the impending danger. The majority of the youth and one of my daughters listened, and seeing the crocodile scrambled out of the river and ran back within the protective walls of the court. My other daughter, precious to me beyond words, not wanting to leave the fun of the river ignored my calls as I angrily shouted warnings. At the last moment, with the fear of her mortal destruction welling in my heart I began pleading for her attention, hearing my pleas and the urgency in my cries she looked up just in time to see the approaching monster.
In a panic, now seeing the danger she fled for her young life, stumbling and tripping on the rocks in the river, unable to climb the bank, going under water at times, she fought her way down stream, slowly coming closer to the walls of the court. Barely outpacing the crocodile which was bent on her destruction, she stumbled closer, now just outside in the river which ran directly against the wall of the court.
As the scene unfolded I discovered that my shouts of fear and my loudly voiced directions only seemed to confuse her. As I observed this my demands and loud instruction changed to encouraging pleas and gentle tones of love, acceptance and quiet instruction. I coached her near the wall and showed her how she might cling to the wall and begin to climb up the wall and away from that awful monster who’s evil intent was to destroy and devour her.
Finally, I was able to grasp her hands and carefully and patiently assist her as she climbed the remainder of the wall, away from the snapping jaws of the evil monster who was furious at being thwarted in his attempt to destroy her. I was filled with relief as my precious daughter fell into my arms. We rested for a moment, embraced by the rest of the family. Together, joyous in our unity as a family we walked from the party. The sun was rising, the party and ensuing struggle had taken the entire night, filled with peace and joy we walked hand in hand into the bright morning. All was well!
The remainder of the day in the temple is now unimportant. What was important was that I had dreamt a dream and now it had been shown to me again with a meaning. It was not the same dream as Nephi’s but it was the mind and will of God for me. Though the daughter that stumbled in the dream is unimportant now it has held true for both on different occasions. It has brought me peace when any of my children have struggled and it has been instructive each time to follow D&C 121:36-44 “… the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. …when we undertake to … exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; … Behold, ere he is aware, he is left … to fight against God. We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all … , as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. … No power or influence can or ought to be maintained … , only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile — Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.”
Our children are not our own. They were God’s long before they were ours. He has informed me of this on other occasions. Raising them as best we can in the way God(male and female) would is the important thing. I have fallen short so many times to which my daughters can attest, but I can teach what I have been taught and hopefully they will be better parents than I have been.
God lives, Jesus Christ saves even the imperfect if we believe and try, God hears and answers His children, He speaks in many ways to which I can attest. We must do as taught in Alma 32. Read the entire chapter slowly and ponder it. Desire, believe, act, listen, repeat. Exercise makes us stronger and more perceptive is my testimony. I love my wife, my children and God’s children. Lets all make it home safe from the great monster Satan, death and hell.
I love my and God’s children and my principle desire is to lead them back to our eternal parents, to go no more out but to enjoy eternally all that they have.