Ever since I posted my prayer to the Lord as a blog entry, I’ve been haunted by something I expressed in it: asking God to postpone letting me see His face for as long as possible. I expressed this out of concern that if I petition the Lord to appear to me, and He does, then in my being impatient I will have robbed myself of the chance to grow in greater faith and blessings — as when the Lord tells Thomas he’s blessed to see the resurrected Lord, but more blessed are those who believe without seeing.
Yet, as my mind keeps reflecting back on that, it haunts me. There’s something very wrong with desiring this, because there must come a point where faith is rewarded with knowledge. It’s almost as though I’ve asked God to assist me in practicing and practicing and practicing again for an upcoming basketball game, but simultaneously have asked Him to postpone the game indefinitely, perhaps until I’m almost dead.
Those who have read Volume II cover to cover know a few of the key trials I have been though. I have received great blessings and promises in meeting those trials, more than I feel I deserve for them. Since then, I’ve received deeply personalized, inner-stretching trials that I’ve been dealing with for years now — trials that are (in my opinion) bizarre and borderline unprecedented, while simultaneously I’ve received sparse feedback and comfort from Heaven in carrying them out.
I’ve come to a point where I’m tired of the sparsity. I really want to see the Savior’s face, as soon as possible. I don’t want Him to postpone visiting me. I really want to be in His presence again. It’s eating at me more and more each day.
And then there’s the issue with Denver Snuffer.
Ever since I published Volume II, I’ve had Denver-haters harp on me. Somewhat predictably, a percentage of readers who loved Volume I ended up completely rejecting Volume II just because of the Denver Snuffer chapter. Quite a few people won’t read Volume II, and strongly advise others not to, because of that chapter. When I assert that I am not a follower of Denver, but that I follow Christ and only Christ and not any mortal man (no matter his spiritual calling), the reaction is invariably a written equivalent of scoffing and rolling of eyes.
Look, I’ll just come right out and say it: Denver Snuffer is an asshole. I don’t care if that offends you, or makes you want to rejoice — I won’t even put asterisks in the word “asshole” to make it less offensive (except in the headings, for the sake of any young ones walking by your screen as you read). I don’t care what your position or feelings on Denver is, and neither does he. He, himself, admits that he’s an asshole.
Even in his ten talks, wherein he delivers Christ’s messages to those who will bring again Zion, he cracks a few inappropriate jokes here and there — mild ones, but still inappropriate — I didn’t laugh when I heard them (except the one about how he became less of an asshole after he underwent surgery that removed part of his large intestine). If I had cracked jokes like that while sharing what the Lord had tasked me to say, it would haunt me.
Also, Denver’s an attorney. I could just leave it at that, but I won’t. In my personal experience, the word “attorney” is not just synonymous with “asshole,” it exceeds it — something akin to “someone who glories in (while greatly profiting from) the professional mangling of truth and destruction of lives.” Denver even admits that he loves trial work:
There is a scene [in the movie Patton] where [Patton] goes over and he kisses this soldier in this middle of this gosh awful battlefield where tanks are smoldering and dead bodies are strewn, and there’s this young man who is still alive. He kisses him and he looks around he says, “God help me, I do love it so!” In the courtroom there are times when I look around and say to myself, ‘God help me, I do really enjoy trial work.’ It’s an intellectual endeavor, and someone is always trying to shoot me down and present the other side. I’m good with that. I actually enjoy the difficulty of that kind of wrestling.
When Denver says in his 2nd talk that he’s convinced that pretty much everyone else in the entire room is better than him, and who are easier for God to love than him, I believe him. I don’t assume he’s just being humble and self-effacing; I completely accept these words as factual:
“My belief is that every one of you, with a couple of exceptions, every one of you have lived lives so much more worthy of the Lord’s recognition than my own. For the life of me, I can’t understand why you don’t have the faith and confidence to realize that He loves you. And you are more lovable than am I. He probably finds it a lot easier to love you than me.” (from talk titled Faith, delivered in Idaho Falls)
I believe you when you say you’re an asshole, Denver. You don’t need to go out of your way to convince me. If I (respectfully) spat in your face, I imagine you’d wipe it off and say “Yeah, I don’t blame you. There’s plenty of things I’ve done in my life that I’m sure I deserve that.” (At least, I know I’d feel that way if someone, anyone, spat in my face.)
Which is why everything about Denver haunts me — troubles me — terrifies me the more I ponder it all.
I completely believe Denver when he testifies that he has been ministered to by angels, that he has been escorted by them through the Heavens, that he has seen the Father and the Son, that he has talked to Christ many times face to face as one man speaks to another. I believe everything he testifies about regarding his personal experiences. I have a testimony that the messages delivered in his ten talks are directly from Christ. I’ve read some of Denver’s books, and the Holy Spirit has testified of the truth of the contents to me — especially Passing the Heavenly Gift.
If a self-proclaimed asshole — an attorney who takes pleasure in courtroom warfare, an individual less deserving and less lovable than the majority of the people who came to listen to his ten talks — has been chosen of God to do the work that he has been called to do, and to receive so many Heavenly manifestations, revelations and counsels that he has ————— what does that say about me???
I’m an A-hole, too
I never realized how headstrong (and thick-headed) of a person I was until I married someone more headstrong than me. My wife and I haven’t had a lot of fights over the course of 20 years of marriage, but when fights did break out, they were intense. One of the most memorable was about 3 or 4 years into our marriage. I cannot recall anything of what the argument was about, or who started it, but how it ended was unforgettable.
I had infuriated my wife to the point where she proclaimed: “You’re a complete asshole!” I’d already reached a point of raw, unfiltered reaction: my mouth would immediately state everything that went through my mind as I thought it. At that moment, my exasperated and frustrated retort to her was: “No, I’m only 20% asshole, just as you’re 20% bitch, and that’s what makes our marriage interesting!!” We fumed in silence for a few seconds, then my wife burst out a laugh and tried to angrily subdue it. What I’d said finally sunk in, and I started snickering. Then she started snickering. Then we both began to simmer down, taking consolation in the fact that we actually deeply love each other, ugly sides and all. We had a good laugh, then she ended the matter: “You’re still an asshole, though.”
Over the years we’ve fought less and less, partly because I’ve managed to curb my dominant-Scottish-genes temper into a less intense, more thoughtful, subdued approach to my wife’s unyieldingly blunt high-expectation criticisms and commentary — expectations that she non-hypocritically (for the most part) holds herself to. That, plus I love and respect her more than anyone else in the whole world.
Ultimately, though, she’s right — I’m an asshole. With all I’ve put her through, I’m amazed she still cares about me and stays married to me. If she decides to leave me one day, I wouldn’t blame her for a second. I’d beg her to stay, I’d do all I could to convince her not to go, but I’d honor her choice no matter what.
Am I an Even Greater A-hole than Denver?
I can see why God chose Denver:
- Despite his sinful past and lingering personal flaws, he has repented and continues to repent.
- He has genuinely desired, striven, and sacrificed to know God.
- He has a sharp, analytical mind; he is highly capable of receiving information, processing it, praying about it, and communicating it to others.
- His experience as an attorney has greatly prepared him to brush off non-constructive criticism like water running off a duck’s back.
- He has no desire to be lauded, praised, celebrated, or beloved. He is greatly adverse to such.
- He has no desire to be famous or followed. He detests public appearances and his picture being published. It pains him that his name is so well-known.
- He just wants to be a father, husband, and an (asshole) attorney. Other than in performing his professional duties, he just wants to be left alone.
These are all highly-ideal qualities that God needs for someone to get out there and deliver a message from Him, which He has already done with Denver. If I were God, I would choose someone like Denver for precisely this kind of work, too.
However, in considering Denver’s qualities, it begs the question: Should I rejoice, as Denver suggests I should — or should I tremble all the more?
What’s happening here? What’s God doing? In choosing Denver, is God setting up Denver’s example as an ideal for us to emulate? Or has God chosen one of the least among us to grant insanely wondrous experiences and outpourings to in order to communicate the following:
“Hey! All you wayward, bamboozled, false-traditions-rutted Mormons out there! I am your God, and if I am willing to grant such miraculous manifestations and numerous personal visitations to a borderline-hopeless case like Denver, then how much more am I willing to do for each of you! You’re so much easier to love than him; he’s as enjoyable to be around as a kid incessantly blowing a party horn in My ear and thinking it’s funny every time. If I’ve chosen him, just imagine how badly I want to choose you! Please, I’m begging you, don’t leave Me here alone with him — I really want your company, too! I’ve sent you Denver so that you can see how lovable and qualified each of you actually are! If I can take a guy like Denver and effectively use him as an instrument in My hands, how much more can I make of you, if you would but forsake your false traditions, your reliance upon the arm of flesh, and all your worldliness and come unto Me! Denver did, and he’s among the least of you; if he can do it, you can, too!”
I have had some powerful spiritual experiences in my life, but compared to what Denver (and others) report(s), they seem comparatively minimal. It makes me tremble when I consider all that Denver and others have received, and I haven’t.
It makes me rethink my posted prayer to God: dare I ask God to delay blessings and manifestations in the expectation that denying me such produces greater blessings? Or is asking for that actually stymieing my progression and is in fact detrimental to the exercising, development, and culmination of my faith?
In all of this, what I reflect on the most is how much bigger of a flawed, borderline-hopeless asshole I am compared to Denver. The Lord has really put up with me in my life — I always cringe and shrink when I think about my past, the defects I still have, and the mistakes I make so frequently today!
“I feel like I’m the idiot writing graffiti on the walls of heaven, and those who dwell there really wish I would just leave, and who wonder what he’s doing here. They likely think of the Lord’s willingness to forgive the sinners, but think in my case the Lord must be kidding. I think if you were to arrive there, there would be a lot more propriety to you rather than I. Have faith. Be believing. Trust in Him.” (from Denver’s second talk)
If Denver’s the kid who sprays graffiti all over the walls of Heaven, I’m the kid who won’t clue in and shut up — who rambles on and on with a play by play, scene by scene, line by line summary of some stupid movie I like. God already has a kid who won’t stop spraying graffiti, why would He want me??
I believe God can, does, and will show Himself to others. I know it throughout my entire soul. But can I believe that He will show Himself to me? To me?!? How can I be worthy of that? How do I dare hope to have that? And yet, I want an audience with Him so badly.
Lord, I believe! Help thou mine unbelief!