Sunday, February 22, 2015

Tokens & Signs

Lately I've been going through life looking for and trying to appreciate tokens and signs from above. This came about as I happened upon something that triggered strong emotions and a joyful remembrance of what it felt like to be home with my Heavenly Parents. It was a simple piano medley. Others heard it and did not have the same reaction. I figured that what I was hearing had been agreed upon in the pre-mortal existence as a personal gift, and that it was meant to be revealed after a (successful) trial of faith. That was how it happened for me.

For the sake of this blog post, I will share my definitions for what a token is, and what constitutes a sign. As I see it, a token is something that serves as a reminder of God. An example of this is the token of the rainbow given to Noah after The Flood. A sign is an event or symbol that confirms the truth. An example of this is the sign of the dove, as described at Christ's baptism:
“The sign of the dove was instituted before the creation of the world, a witness for the Holy Ghost, and the devil cannot come in the sign of a dove. The Holy Ghost is a personage, and is in the form of a personage. It does not confine itself to the sign of the dove. The Holy Ghost cannot be transformed into a dove; but the sign of a dove was given to John to signify the truth of the deed, as the dove is an emblem or token of truth and innocence” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,276).

Life, it's kinda like this. 

Within this framework, I see ourselves as being very much like Super Mario. We go through this challenging, lone and dreary world with obstacles at each turn. If we remain diligent and keep pressing forward, we will come across tokens and even signs that will give us the spiritual equivalent of a 1UP. This will ultimately lead us to recognize and accept truth.

Along those lines, I can distinctly remember a token and sign given to me for my conversion. They didn't happen together at one time. The token came when I was a little girl playing with my brother in our living room (or as we say in Chicago, "frunchroom"). A commercial came on the TV, which I didn't pay much attention to as I was busy roughhousing, but when it was over the name of The Church came on the screen and I paused. It was new and familiar at the same time. It seemed important, but I didn't know what to do with that information then. Looking back, I see this as my token. Later, when my friends introduced me to the Gospel, I prayed really hard to know that it wasn't true. --If so, my life would be turned upside down! I was then led to Tobit 14:5, which says:
"And that again God will have mercy on them, and bring them again into the land, where they shall build a temple, but not like to the first, until the time of that age be fulfilled; and afterward they shall return from all places of their captivity, and build up Jerusalem gloriously, and the house of God shall be built in it for ever with a glorious building, as the prophets have spoken thereof."
That was my sign. I was baptized later that same year.

Whether or not we acknowledge them as such, it's my personal opinion that tokens, signs, or both are given before we advance to important callings or obtain greater power from the Lord's anointed ones. Today in church we studied the calling of the 12 apostles and I was excited to look at this using a different lens. Many remarked at how amazing it was for Peter, James, and John to drop their nets (drop everything, really) and follow Jesus immediately at His announcement. All seemed to wonder if they would be able to recognize a true messenger from God the Father and pondered what it would take for themselves to follow Him. You know what my answer is: It takes faith, fueled by a token and a sign.

If I'm on to something (and I think I am), then what was the token and the sign given to Peter? Let's reread the account in Luke 5:1-10:
"And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto  partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw  he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so wasalso James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men." (Emphasis added.)
If you ask me, the token for Peter was seeing the Lord preach from out of his boat; the sign was catching so many fish that the net broke. I believe these things were settled upon in the pre-mortal existence when Peter was foreordained to this work. He recognized them, and subsequently answered the call.

I'm really, really excited about discovering more tokens and signs both in the scriptures and in my own life. I intend to share these when possible, with the understanding that those that come with covenants not to disclose them will be kept sacred.

Of course, if you see me banishing unclean spirits or shooting flaming flowers out of my gloved hands on my way to celestial glory, you'll be able to tell something's up without me having to say anything.

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