What Should I Expect?

[ 8 ] Comments

by Stephen R. Marsh

In the Lorenzo Snow manual there is a sub-heading (on page 25) “Ministering to Individuals.” It talks about leaders ministering to individuals and not letting their leadership callings get in the way. The example given is an event in 1891 where Lorenzo Snow raised a child from the dead:

“After standing at Ella’s bedside for a minute or two, President Snow asked if we had any consecrated oil in the house. I was greatly surprised, but told him yes and got it for him. He handed the bottle of oil to Brother Clawson and asked him to anoint Ella. [President Snow] was then mouth in confirming the anointing.

“During the administration I was particularly impressed with some of the words which he used and can well remember them now. He said: ‘Dear Ella, I command you, in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, to come back and live, your mission is not ended. You shall yet live to perform a great mission.’

“He said she should yet live to rear a large family and be a comfort to her parents and friends. I well remember these words. …

“… After President Snow had finished the blessing, he turned to my wife and me and said: ‘Now do not mourn or grieve any more. It will be all right. Brother Clawson and I are busy and must go, we cannot stay, but you just be patient and wait, and do not mourn, because it will be all right.’ …

“Ella remained in this condition for more than an hour after President Snow administered to her, or more than three hours in all after she died. We were sitting there watching by the bedside, her mother and myself, when all at once she opened her eyes. She looked about the room, saw us sitting there, but still looked for someone else, and the first thing she said was: ‘Where is he? Where is he?’ We asked, ‘Who? Where is who?’ ‘Why, Brother Snow,’ she replied. ‘He called me back.”

From this story it seems as though I should expect leaders to raise my child from the dead. What am I to expect of myself, and what is fair to expect from leaders based on this story?

Taking the story deeper than the surface, what should I do in likening that example to myself?

What kind of expectations should we have for our leaders?


8 Responses to What Should I Expect?

  1. Deborah says:

    I believe the question should be “what is God’s will?” They’re to be worthy priesthood holders and have faith in Christ’s power and, always ask His will be done. Our leaders aren’t Christ, they’re humman with foibles but, hopefully seeking to be setting their hearts on the things of God.

  2. Brenda says:

    I agree with Deborah. The expectation is that they be worthy and exercise the faith necessary to do God’s will. If that is raising a child from the dead or simply giving a promise of comfort to someone who will not recover, it should be guided by the Spirit. A worthy priesthood holder can do anything God needs him to do.

  3. Paul says:

    Deborah and Brenda’s comments are consistent with Elder Oaks’ recent address on priesthood blessings (which makes clear that the outcome of blessings is dependent on God’s will and the faith of the person being blessed more than the worthiness or effectiveness of the priesthood holder), but I understand your question, Stephen. It seems that dramatic miracles were far more a part of the fabric of the lives of the saints in the 19th century.

    I have wondered if that was driven by the relative lack of medical care (which may make the need for such miracles less urgent today), or the fact that the dramatic miracles are the ones that got recorded.

    Certainly we have reports today of apostles and prophets who bless children during their regular assignments to conferences, and some of those children die.

  4. Ray says:

    I have participated in hundreds of blessings over the course of my years in the Church. Most have been nice but forgettable; a few have been obviously revelatory; a handful have been . . . powerfully connective to the divine.

    My expectation of leaders and myself boils down to a willingness to put ourselves in enough situations where the revelatory and powerfully connective might happen, even though my experiences teach me that most of the time it will be nice but forgettable, that we will be there when God needs to reach down in a miraculous fashion and, figuratively, show us his hand.

    My takeaway from the lesson is that Pres. Snow did that – participated enough in the mundane that he was there for the miraculous.

  5. Bonnie says:

    I have evolved in my understanding of and appreciation for blessings. I used to think that they were grand keys that unlocked the divine in ways that I could not. I began to understand the power of prayer over time, discovering that I did not need a mediator between myself and God to receive help, comfort, and other blessings from him, including blessings of healing. Like Lucy Mack Smith, many times I have gone to my own grove and prayed until I was healed. Then I saw priesthood leaders as partners in the work I was tasked with. Now I tend to think of priesthood power as a key that unlocks the divine. I’ve learned a lot in that full circle, and I expect I’ll continue to learn as I travel that circle many more times. It is a blessing of indescribable depth to receive blessings at the hands of mortals, whether those blessings are of healing, comfort, or direction, through individual gifting or through callings and ordinances. There is something to be said about serving one another and being served by one another.

    In all of that, I don’t see that stories of the divine hand in someone else’s life contorts how it should work in our own. What a wonder that priesthood blesses with even the power to raise from the dead. If it were widely used, it would be a bit overpopulated. Every blessings specific to its need.

  6. ji says:

    I appreciate Paul’s reminder from Elder Oaks that “the outcome of blessings is dependent on God’s will and the faith of the person being blessed more than the worthiness or effectiveness of the priesthood holder” — I don’t see a priesthood blessing as commanding the powers of heaven, or even as receiving revelation (although I know i can occur) — I prefer to see a priesthood blessing as a petition of faith, the prayer of the faithful in behalf of one who is sick, the uniting of our faith with his or hers, bringing the sick to the elders (or the elders to the sick) and organized so as to let the power of godliness be manifest to mankind on the earth. It is a terrible burden to put on a man to EXPECT him to say words that will effect a healing — it is a terrible burden to put on a man to hear the whisperings of inspiration on cue, and that in front of an audience — that is part of what Elder Oaks was trying to address. The scripture teaches us if the blessed person dies, he dies in the Lord, and the blessing is still a success. So yes, every elder in the Church should be ready to give a blessing when needed, and that without the pressure of performance.

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