July 22, 2015

Day 6: Liberty Jail

Our trip began simply as a cross-country trip out west to see our family.  We decided to look up Mormon historical sites along the way.  This is not a trip to Mecca, it's more of our attempts to teach the Oregon Trail because we happen to be traveling to Oregon.  

Today The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the fastest growing major denomination.  Despite extermination orders, intense persecution, an arduous trek west, and even the unlawful incarceration and execution of it's founder, the young Church continued strong.  Why?  How? 

In a day and age when we as a society are obsessed with creating pain-free, safe, and equal existences, I am finding the depth of conviction that can only be carved through great sacrifice.

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: "A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life" (Lectures on Faith, comp. N. B. Lundwall [Salt Lake City: N. B. Lundwall, n.d.], p. 58).

Liberty Jail was a dungeon later used as an ice chest.  It was freezing cold and Joseph was there during one of the coldest winters.  Our tour guide said he didn't know how they were able to not get hypothermia and die.  

Is there anything in life more miserable than being cold?

I'm not sure I understand why God allowed his prophet to be imprisoned under false charges for 6 months in such frigid, deplorable conditions.  

Maybe so we could feel the truth in these words "And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." (Doctrine and Covenants 122:7) 

Honestly, my experience at Liberty Jail was more focused on keeping Ben safe and only mildly disruptive to the tour.  He ran laps around Liberty Jail.  The highlight of the tour for him was finding a flashlight, I thought it was relatively harmless that he was shining it around.  Todd laughed when the tour guide had to ask us to "please turn off the flashlight."  Oops.

I just don't see in the character of Joseph Smith a man who was seeking fame or prominence.  His life would have been way easier if he renounced his faith and blended in with society.

This passage touches my soul-- he sounds honest to me.  I know he saw what he said he saw.

23 It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself. 

24 However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise. 

25 So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation. (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith—History, Joseph Smith—History 1)

Liberty Jail is sad to me.  This dungeon was a place where much revelation was received.  I hate that. My soul aches that we need to suffer to become pure.  But, I know this is truth.  I know trials are for our good.

Liberty Jail was Joseph's 40 days in the wilderness.  To him who much is given, much is required.

I know that Joseph Smith was a good man who endured much as he was true to the revelation he received.  God always asks much of of his favorites.  "Good timber doesn't grow with ease, the stronger wind the stronger trees."

I know it.

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