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So It Was With Me... Defining Features

Stories of faith and love in the face of adversity make us strong. Read on.

A defining feature is an exceptional aspect on which inspires within other's riveting focus. Dolly Parton has a few defining features, one being her voice that rocketed her to Country Music legendary status.

The Statue of Liberty is a defining feature of the freedoms protected in the United States of America, veritable birth-rights to all of humanity. Defining features do not mean other features do not define things or places.

Dolly Partin’s bust size and Mt Rushmore’s etchings in the United States are other defining features. These features are uplifting or painful incidences that identify to others glimpses of the lives and existence of famous people or things.

Job suffered at the hands of the devil as proof that he would never turn away from God regardless of the circumstances of his life. Moses freed an entire nation of people from bondage with the word of God and no conventional weapons. Jonah laid wait in a fish to persuade him to teach the hated people of Nineveh.


Studying Doctrine and Covenants, a book of modern Scripture used in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opens my eyes to see the importance of my dealings with God and how they can serve as personal holy writings to help define my faith.

Your personal experiences seen through the lens of a learning perspective can also be holy scripture to you. The history of the world changes one person at a time multiplied by every one person until changes happen in families, communities, regions, nations, and, of course, the world. Joseph Smith's experience changed the world. I am one in the world whom it changed.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. [James 1:5]

Questions Have Answers

His claim to fame happened on a glorious spring day in the year 1820 due to a religious fever that swept across his community inflicting, as it spread, confusion and dread within for his eternal welfare. Being a lad of 14 years, he did not know how to determine the answers to his questions:

“Am I right with God?” and “Which of the churches should I join.

After much contemplation and reflection, the young teenager read in the family bible in the Epistle of James,

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. [James 1:5]

This verse impacted the teen Joseph so intensely that in his adult years he gave the response in his history regarding it,

Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine. It seemed to enter with great force into every feeling of my heart. [1]

With knowledge, with faith there must be actions, works as is also found taught laudably in the Book of James.

Why did the verse impact him so?

Reader, consider having a longing or desire churning within your mind and soul invested so that the surrounding atmosphere seems infused with that longing, that desire! Every conscious moment vexed by a yearning for the fulfilling of this overpowering need for satisfaction, relief--not from some whimsy, but a relief from not knowing, not understanding, not grasping, not feeling complete and whole--only to have none..

Then, reader, consider reading somewhere to scratch that figurative itch, to receive satisfactory relief is only for the asking! How simply! It impacted Joseph so much being within his ability to do so, easily.

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He continued,

I reflected on it again and again, knowing that if any person needed wisdom from God, I did; for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know. [1]

Action defined the desire of young Joseph Smith Junior. Knowing the answers would not satisfy the questions of his heart. Devils and demons know God, but that knowledge does nothing to help them, nothing. knowing something does not inspire action alone, Faith is knowledge to act. There must be actions, works as is taught laudably in the Book of James.

Joseph wanted to know where he stood before God in relation to the salvation of his soul and what church to attend to make sure that he could keep what good standing existed and improve where the need existed.

The entire address given by James, in my estimation, touched the young man’s soul as I assume verse six also did not go without his perusal:

But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. James 1:6-7

Joseph Smith wanted answers to his questions with the understanding of James that in order to gain it, he must ask God with the intent to do something about his lack of knowledge once given the information, change.

Joseph also needed to understand that he could go directly to God for his questions because as he wrote regarding his exploration among the religionist of his community, “teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.” [1]

A great source of information as it is, the Bible couldn't answer Joseph’s questions about his status before God. It could only inform him of the status of others at the time it was written. Joseph wanted and needed actionable intelligence for his life at that time. Only a living present Deity, God, could give him that, as James suggested.

After much thought, a secluded place on his father’s farm studied Joseph’s attentions, to pray vocally about his spiritual status where he would not be disturbed by the hustle and bustle of the large family which at the time consisted “of eleven souls, namely, my father, Joseph Smith; my mother, Lucy Smith; my brothers, Alvin, Hyrum, Samuel Harrison, William, and Don Carlos; and my sisters, Sophronia, Catherine, and Lucy; and myself.” [1]

With such important questions to put before the Creator of the universe, Joseph Smith wanted to have a private location away from the crowded home of people so that he would concentrate without wavering as James directed on the answer he fully expected to receive, and receive he did.

Smith Family Farm


All that is left for the rest of humanity is to accept Joseph’s account of things and have a revelatory experience about the importance of it ourselves.

Joseph Smith’s Defining Feature

In answer to his prayer, God the Father and Jesus Christ visited him answering his prayer and sparking the beginning of a journey for him affecting the lives of millions of people the world over. Seeing God and Jesus answered many questions for him and others in an instance, preparatory for his life as a prophet when he grew to maturity.

  • Answered are the questions many have about the relationship between God the Father and God the Son.
  • Answered is the question of whether They are the same being.
  • Answered is the query if God still speaks to humanity.
  • Answered is the wonder will He speak to any person who earnestly asks with the intention to act.
  • Answered, “Does He care enough to speak to the simplest of people in the most secluded of locations?”

God answered Joseph’s prayer when he asked with the intent to act. So it was with me with my questions, but that is for another time.

First Vision

Depiction of Joseph Smith’s First Vision in stained glass by Tom Holdman in the Palmyra New York Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Depiction of Joseph Smith’s First Vision in stained glass by Tom Holdman in the Palmyra New York Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Joseph Smith Saw God.

All that is left for the rest of humanity is to accept Joseph’s account of things and have a revelatory experience about the importance of it ourselves. I conclude here with his words regarding this remarkable turn of events in his life, which I assuredly assert that he did not expect, but received.

I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision.

He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise.

So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth?

I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation. [1]

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Rodric Anthony Johnson


Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on January 21, 2021:

Pamela, thanks for your support. I am glad that you found it interesting. I love the history of Joseph Smith because his story changes the way I approach God. I know I can get answers if I am willing to act on those answers.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 20, 2021:

I enjoyed reading about your experience and the history of Joseph Smith. It was very interesting, and I believe your experience was real, Rodric. God bless you.

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