105N - Oliver's Return

"In the Midst of Thee" - volumes 1 & 2 contain 200 favorite Glenn Rawson Stories - at: History of the Saints . org

There’s a phrase in scripture. The Lord gave it to Noah, but it’s found in other places. He says, “… my spirit shall not always strive with man….” Now I know that that sounds negative, but think about it. That statement is remarkable and telling! It is at one moment a stern warning and a source of comfort. Why? The Lord and His Spirit will strive with us for a long time. There are limits - yes. But the comfort is - He just doesn’t give up on us that easily. May I illustrate?

Oliver Cowdery was a man highly favored of the Lord. He was granted a vision of the Lord to know that the Book of Mormon was true even before he met Joseph Smith. He wrote nearly the entire Book of Mormon as it fell from the lips of the Prophet. He received the lesser Priesthood under the hand of John the Baptist, and the greater Priesthood from Peter, James and John. He saw in vision the glories that these two priesthoods would work down through the ages. He was the first man baptized for the remission of sins in this dispensation, and was the second elder in the Church. He stood in the presence of Jesus Christ in the Kirtland Temple, and with Joseph received the keys of the kingdom from Moses, Elias, and Elijah.

But then in 1838, Oliver became angry with the government of the Church, and what he considered to be the unjust behavior of certain officers. He was called before the high council to answer a number of charges against him. On the basis of principle and pride, Oliver refused to appear and was excommunicated. Now at this critical moment, other men were angry with the Church also. They approached Oliver and asked him candidly if he really had seen the plates and the angel. To their surprise, Oliver affirmed that the testimony written in the Book of Mormon was true. Oliver Cowdery may have been angry, but he was no apostate.

For 10 1\2 years Oliver was outside the Church. He practiced law in Ohio, and as the Church moved on, he stayed there. Nonetheless, he maintained favorable relations with friends in the Church, and strove diligently all that time to maintain a reputation worthy of a witness.

Now, as time progressed - and this is noteworthy - Oliver’s heart began to soften. He spoke in his correspondence of being the oldest member of the Church, and of returning to the Church and going west with the Saints.

Finally, October 27, 1848: Oliver rode into a clearing near Kanesville, Iowa in the middle of a Church Conference. He was brought to the stand and invited to speak. With great emotion, he took the pulpit, and spoke to the largest audience of saints he had ever addressed. He bore a powerful and compelling witness of what he knew of a certainty!

November 12, 1848: Oliver Cowdery, the second elder, a witness of the Book of Mormon, was re-baptized. But before he could go west, he was taken sick.

As he died, Oliver said this: “Now I lay me down for the last time. I am going to my Savior.” It was said that he died the happiest of men.

Now my friends, I hope this story comforts you. It is a witness that God will indeed strive with men, great and small. He just does not give up on us that easily. He is patient and He works with us. Indeed, if we are willing, He will work with us all the way to completion and perfection.

Glenn Rawson - March 2012
Music: The Spirit of God - Lex de Azevedo
Song: The Spirit of God - The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra