Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Very Patient Lyman Sherman

Although the Gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect, the application of it by members of the Church is, at times, less than perfect. Perhaps it is simply my “wicked” disposition shining through but I can see a wonderful lesson being taught to us by the Lord in Section 108 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Section 108 is a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith to a member of the Church named Lyman Sherman. After doing some further research on Lyman Sherman, I have decided he is a man I would love to actually meet someday.

Lyman Sherman was living in Kirtland during the period of time when the Kirtland Temple was being built. He was a faithful member of the Church who, in my estimation, was just that, faithful. In attendance at the general priesthood meeting of the Church in which the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the Quorum of the Seventies were organized in this dispensation, Lyman was called to be a President of the Seventies. Unfortunately, he had previously been ordained to the office of high priest, so he was of necessity released from that position of authority as President.

That meeting was held in March of 1835. The men who received their calls proceeded to serve in the capacity of missionaries and were sent on their way to preach. These were the “big dogs” in the Church, the men with callings of “substance”. Yet, Lyman Sherman was left behind in Kirtland.

Perhaps being “left out” began weighing heavy on Lyman Sherman’s mind because he became “vexed” over the situation. For as long as nine months he may have been plagued by this feeling because finally in December he approached the Prophet Joseph Smith and stated, “I have been wrought upon to make known to you my feelings and desires, and was promised that I should have a revelation which should make known my duty.”

Was he questioning his standing with the Lord because he was “passed over” when the callings were given? Did he have a cause to question or even lament his fate? Could a tiny corner of doubt be given place in his mind concerning the inspiration of his leaders? Did he feel a tinge of jealousy which perhaps may have even give way to prideful imaginations?

In response to Lyman's query the Prophet received Section 108.

108:1 Verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Lyman: Your sins are forgiven you, because you have obeyed my voice in coming up hither this morning to receive counsel of him whom I have appointed.

2 Therefore, let your soul be at rest concerning your spiritual standing, and resist no more my voice.

3 And arise up and be more careful henceforth in observing your vows, which you have made and do make, and you shall be blessed with exceeding great blessings.

4 Wait patiently until the solemn assembly shall be called of my servants, then you shall be remembered with the first of mine elders, and receive right by ordination with the rest of mine elders whom I have chosen.

5 Behold, this is the promise of the Father unto you if you continue faithful.

6 And it shall be fulfilled upon you in that day that you shall have right to preach my gospel wheresoever I shall send you, from henceforth from that time.

7 Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings.

8 And behold, and lo, I am with you to bless you and deliver you forever. Amen.

The first thing that stuck out in my mind was the fact that the Lord was pleased with Lyman for obeying the prompting of the spirit and going and talking to Joseph about his concerns; so pleased in fact, that all of his sins were forgiven him and he was assured of his worthy standing before the Lord. As I thought about this situation, I wondered how hard it must have been for Lyman to humble himself enough to bring his concerns to the Prophet. Human nature, as it is, oft times takes a much lower course of action I am afraid.

Next the Lord’s directions to Lyman were simple. He was told to be more “careful” in observing his covenants. The word “exactness” comes to my mind when I think of this counsel. He was counseled to “wait patiently” and his time of leadership would come if he did do just that. The Lord also instructed him regarding his relationship with his brethren, counseling him to “strengthen” them by prayer, and by the way he spoke of them and their duties in “all his doings”. There was to be no jealousy, or comparisons made, no speculation as to why they were serving and not him, simply support. I believe that though this counsel is simple, it is still the harder path to follow.

Something else seemed to stick out in my mind as I studied this exchange between the Lord, Lyman Sherman, and Joseph Smith. Could it be possible that Joseph Smith needed to be reminded of Lyman himself? After all, the Prophet was just a man, a very busy man at the time. He was involved in projects as varied as translation of the book of Abraham, to the publication of the Doctrine and Covenants itself, all the while supervising the building of the house of the Lord. Perhaps the faithful servant, Lyman Sherman, was not the first thing on his mind. I believe there are so many modern day applications that can apply to this scenario, don’t you?

So, you may wonder, what happened to Lyman Sherman? Lyman Sherman was called to serve on the Kirtland High Council, and later when forced to move to Missouri, served on the Far West High Council too. His call to the apostleship was given to him in a letter received January 16, 1839, from Joseph Smith while he was incarcerated in Liberty jail. He was to be on the Quorum of the Twelve, replacing Orson Hyde. Unfortunately that ordination never took place because eleven days later he died at the age of thirty-four.

Perhaps he is still“waiting patiently”.

1 comment:

Lori said...

You've shed light on a section in the D&C that could very easily be overlooked. Most of us are hurrying to get to the spectacular section 109 that we skip over this petite section. Thank you for the background. Every single one of us could take a lesson from what Bro. Sherman went through. We would be well to keep our humility in check and be patient no matter where we serve.