Saturday, March 25, 2017

Moroni's Weakness

Recently, some have asked if they could have access to some of the letters that I shared a couple of years ago chronicling and encapsulating my family’s conversion to the Lord and subsequent departure from institutionalized religion.  This, along with a renewed desire to experience and testify of His grace, is why I am re-posting this and a few other letters.  Some of the writing has been edited to remove references to specific people, while still maintaining the integrity of the original message.  It is my hope and prayer that this may be of some help to others who may be struggling to put their own experiences and thoughts into words.  Please feel free to use and share as the Spirit guides...  -Rex Pettingill

I took to heart the comments and suggestion you made during our meeting yesterday.  As I knelt in prayer very late last night, I asked my Heavenly Father to help me see clearly – that if there was something in my past that was clouding my judgement or keeping me from receiving revelation, as you had suggested, if I was being motivated by some personal vendetta or offense, if I was being in some way insincere in the way I was proceeding down this path – that He would show me the error of my ways….
This was His response:
“If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.  I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me.”
That was it – just these words from the verse in Ether…and a prompting to go and read the entire passage associated with the words.  And so I opened the scriptures to Ether 12, found the verse, and went back to find the context, which begins in verse 23…
Moroni is worried that the Gentiles will not accept the message, but will instead “mock at these things because of our weakness in writing”.  He worries that they will ignore the message and use something unrelated to it, the perceived weakness of the messenger, as an excuse for doing so.  When Moroni expressed this, the Lord responded, saying:
26 …Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness;
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
28 Behold, I will show unto the Gentiles their weakness, and I will show unto them that faith, hope and charity bringeth unto me—the fountain of all righteousness.
Bishop, as I pondered upon this passage, this is the further message that I received in answer to my prayer:
You (and I would assume President xxxxx) have chosen not to respond to or to consider those things of which I have testified.  Your reluctance to discuss the doctrine, to open the scriptures and allow them to speak and witness of truth, is evidence of this.  While it may not be intentional, you have instead “taken advantage” of a weakness in the messenger, pointed to past experiences to which I or Melendie may have taken offense, and to the possibility that that we may have placed worldly cares and priorities above our membership in the church.  As well-intended and sincere and heartfelt as your desire is to understand why or how the Pettingills have come to the point where they are, instead of feeling prompted to consider carefully and prayerfully our message, you felt prompted to try to see if there was another explanation – one that allows the church and the brethren to remain untouchable and incapable of error, and relieves yourself of any responsibility to seek for greater knowledge – knowledge that saves.  Is it possible that your promptings were from something other than the Holy Ghost?  I would again refer you to the early verses of Moroni 7 and the closing passages of D&C 121 for insight on how to discern truth and how to respond to those who you may feel are acting contrary to it.  
God’s answer to my prayer didn’t end there…
Could Melendie and I have “weaknesses” that caused us to begin to question our standing with God and the church?  Absolutely!  And praised be the Lord for it!  Believe me, we spent hours on our knees in prayer wrestling with the feelings of doubt and confusion that our weaknesses brought to the surface.  But the answer we received, the call we heard, is bigger than me, than Melendie, than our children and our petty weaknesses.  It is about all of God’s children, and His desire for them to return to the covenants of the Fathers and to receive the fullness of His gospel.  Yet it is often by small and simple and strange acts that the Lord accomplishes His will - including using our weaknesses, when we acknowledge them and bring them to the Lord.  (“…then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”)
I would like to clarify another response from our discussion yesterday.  You asked if I had prayed to know if Thomas Monson is a prophet, seer, and revelator.  The best response I could give you was yes, I have prayed, and that I did not get an answer that he is – that I got nothing.  Bishop, one of the most profound truths that I have learned is that the Holy Ghost does not simply give us feelings.  After all, I get “warm fuzzies” from watching The Lord of the Rings (don’t we all?).  This does not mean that I am receiving a spiritual witness that Frodo and the Fellowship will prevail.  When we receive the Holy Ghost, he enlightens, teaches, inspires, edifies.  Feelings may come as a natural result of being taught by the spirit, but they are not its primary objective.  As I have prayed to know if certain things are true, the answer has often come from being led to scripture.  I have shared with you already in a previous letter those scriptures that the Lord inspired me to search as I pondered and prayed about President Monson.  Part of awakening to an awful sense of your situation is the realization that much of what you thought you knew is not the entire picture.  For years I had been seeking and had become content with accepting good feelings as evidence of truth.  What I have discovered is that the Lord offers us so much more than that.
In closing, I testify that we all have the same loving Father in Heaven, that He loves us and desires to bring us into His presence, and that the only way to do that is through Jesus Christ, our Savior.  You mentioned yesterday that “the doctrine I believe is not the doctrine you believe, the God I worship is not the God you worship, the Christ I seek is not the Christ you seek.”  My hope and prayer for you and all of my friends and family is that we seek the same God and Savior.          
Moroni closes the chapter in Ether which we read earlier with the following plea:
38 And now I, Moroni, bid farewell unto the Gentiles, yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love, until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood.
 39 And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things;
 40 And only a few have I written, because of my weakness in writing.
 41 And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen.
The apostles and prophets have written of Him, and this is the Christ that, in absolute sincerity, I, along with my family, am seeking.  

With love,


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