On Revelation: “Continuous” Revelation

The LDS Bible Dictionary contains this nugget; “continuous revelation from god to his saints… makes possible daily guidance along true paths and leads the faithful soul to complete salvation in the celestial kingdom.”

When we hear “continuous” we often think on-going, unbroken from start to finish. We expect “continuous” revelation to be uninterrupted—a course laid out before us like the yellow brick road—and we believe we’ve done something wrong, fallen short in some way, if it doesn’t happen that way.

But the first definition of “continuous” (in my favorite massive dictionary) is not “unbroken.” The first definition is “recurring in steady and rapid succession, repeated at intervals with brief, often regular intermissions.” The breaks, the intermissions, are an integral part of what it means to be continuous. Incidentally, we also have to remember that the “brief” and “regular” aspects of these intermissions is on God’s terms, not ours.

Hymn #195 assures us that Christ “marked the path and lead the way, and every point defines to life and light and endless day where God’s full presence shines.” Sounds a lot like a yellow-brick road, right? The interesting thing is that in mathematics, architecture, and design, “points” only need to be defined when a line changes direction or trajectory.

Some of the most beautiful, amazing places I have visited—mountaintops, secluded lakes, and sun-drenched canyons—you can’t get to by following a yellow-brick road. The way to these places is often marked by small stacks of stones called cairns.  Cairns are placed at important places along the trail—to help hikers avoid danger, to protect vulnerable parts of the landscape, and to mark the proper path in areas where others have gone so many different ways that the true trail is hard to distinguish. Where the trail is clear and safe, there simply are no cairns. “Continuous” personal revelation works in much the same way. We’re given direction and continue along that path until danger, distraction or a crucial decision necessitate more guidance. Significantly, on these hikes, you can seldom see more than one cairn at a time.

Peter illustrates this principle as he responds to the intermission he and the other disciples experienced after Christ had appeared to them following the resurrection. Peter’s response seems remarkably simple; “I go a fishing.” But it was as he went forward doing what he had been doing up to that point that the further revelation, the great commission that sent him off to proclaim the gospel and lead Christ’s church for the rest of his life, came.

Following “continuous” revelation means faithfully continuing along the path the Lord has indicated until directed otherwise—even if those intermissions seem anything but brief to us.

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