(January 22, 2014)
The lesson to be learned from this reading is two-fold. First, we marvel and the amazing experiences that Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith enjoyed. We take comfort in his direct language that the merciful God in Heaven will answer when we diligently seek Him, and this answer has the power to displace doubt and uncertainty.
Secondly, we note that Oliver Cowdery was wrong in some important respects. His experiences, sufficient to drive out all doubt, did not ensure that “fiction and deception had fled forever.” No, we have not yet reached that point – a fact that Oliver learned to his sorrow when he broke with the Church and joined the Methodists (?). Only later in life did he recover what he once had and what he lost, and we may never know the full impact of his going astray (except in how it emboldens critics of the Church). We are each given our own spiritual experiences of which we are called to act as witnesses, and for which we feel no doubt. If we are casual or careless, we may find ourselves likewise having lost what we thought would be with us forever.