It was the summer of 1992, Irvine, California — Avraham Gileadi was giving one of his early seminars on the Book of Isaiah. We had a copy of his book on our shelf and we eagerly looked forward to his class. It was good timing, and one example of God’s hand in my life. But like so many things, I did not see the blessings until many years later, when I could look at my life from a new perspective, after having passed through my trials of descent.
The Book of Isaiah changed my life because I understood the purpose of my trials, the descents I was experiencing, had experienced, and would yet experience. I understood that all that the Father has, only comes by descents. I had studied about the baptism of fire and receiving your calling and election made sure – but I didn’t know how to get it. It’s sort of the good news and bad news. My bitter trials became sweeter, when I learned the descent phase came before the ascent — to become like my savior required tough experiences:
Your faithfulness in time of trial shall prove to be a strength, your wisdom and knowledge your salvation; your fear of Jehovah shall be your riches. (Isaiah 33:6)
In early 1992, my husband and I with our four young children were having financial problems – a business gone bad had left us with a judgement. Our salary was garnished, leaving us without the money needed to pay our rent. Back taxes were encumbering us. Our marriage was rocky.
For me, personally, I was also suffering a physical heart ailment called mitral valve prolapse, causing me to have irregular heartbeats day and night – premature ventricular contractions – that made me feel anxious and nervous. I really thought I might die.
I had been suffering with them for 11 years, since the birth of my first child in 1981. In Feb. of 1992, I had a fitful evening, fear overtaking me with my heart beating irregularly. I called upon a good friend (a Jewish Mormon) to give me a blessing. God told me I had more work to do. He emphasized diet, exercise and rest. And that my heart and health would be fine. That I was to seek medical help for confirmation and peace of mind, that it was not a lack of faith. That I should keep the right perspective. And that all my troubles — money, family, health, etc. were in the Lord’s hand. That I should continue to thank the Lord.
I saw a cardiologist. Drugs did not work. The next one told me, “there is no magic wand for this problem.” I saw another cardiologist, who recommended diet, rest, and exercise. The blessing came to mind. I began running daily. June 1993, one year and 3 months after following that advice, I was calm. My heart suffering of 12 years had ended. But not the descents. Two months later, my husband was laid off from his job. My strange dream of his boss, trying to get rid of him – had proven prophetic.
I went to the temple and thought about the Fall – fall from what? From a higher glory – to do what here? There had to be a redeemer or how could we lay down our glory of a former life and fulfill a calling here in the telestial kingdom with no hope of returning? How do we get back? Isaiah had the answer.
On October 1, 1993, I had a dream that I was copying a binder of information to another binder – about Zion. I was doing this work on the 3rd floor and I kept being interrupted to go downstairs. Each time, I was always careful to cover my work, so that no one would see the information or leave it anywhere to be stolen. I remember the bannister of the staircase and I was tired of the interruptions and going down.
There is purpose in my trials. The descents are the proving ground, that if I stay faithful and do not curse God, I can be born again and again, and rise in my progression on this earth – the descents and ascents that Avraham found in the writings of Isaiah are there to help us see the big picture, personally. To make sense of your sufferings. Christ is the ultimate example, but others are in a similar progression. The rewards progress from receiving the baptism of fire, to calling election made sure, knowing Christ, becoming a proxy savior, and being translated or resurrected.
If I want to be part of Zion, the only way is through re-birth after a seeming death of a descent. Not easy doctrine, but then life is not easy for any of us, but Isaiah gives us the reason for suffering and not just the hope of a better life, but the truth of the process of progression and blessing in this life and beyond. Isaiah sets out the plan of salvation. Which is uncomfortable doctrine even after you have suffered and been saved on one level, because there is always another trial around the corner.
Understanding the Book of Isaiah has changed the way I look at life.