David Butler, author of Redeemer and co-host of "Don't Miss This," has one hope for this year’s 200th commemoration of the anniversary of the Restoration—that we will be God-centered in our celebration.
“I love Joseph . . . but I love, love Jesus. I love God the Father and what we learn about them from that story. Joseph didn’t learn about himself. He didn’t come out of the grove and say, ‘I am a mighty prophet . . . good thing I asked, seeked, and knocked,’” Butler says. “He was not the hero of the story. God was the hero of the story. And when we see Him as the hero of that story, maybe we can recognize Him as the hero in ours a little bit more.”
As an Institute teacher at Utah Valley University, Butler suggested that his class's Restoration commemoration be centered on what Joseph learned about God and our relationship to God as His children. In an effort to do this, he chose five words to be printed on wristbands for the students to wear. In the first segment of a Restoration class Butler is teaching at Moon’s Rare Books in Provo leading up to general conference, he shared what those words are:
- Delivered: “My first word if I were to say, ‘What did Joseph learn when he came out of that grove?’ I think the first word I would pick is ‘delivered.’ Do you want to walk around with the word delivered [around your wrist]? To know ‘I’m somebody that was delivered from my enemy.’ Maybe you’re in a place of struggle but everybody has been delivered from the most fearsome enemy of all, of sin and from death. And that’s a word that came out of that vision. He’s like ‘I was delivered from the enemy that held me bound.’ And so has everybody else in this room, and you might even have your own stories about how God has delivered you from different enemies that you’ve encountered or different obstacles.”
- Forgiven: “I think something else that [Joseph] learns when he goes [into the grove] is in one of the accounts [of the First Vision], so you have to read all of the accounts. It’s not in the one that’s in the Pearl of Great Price, and it’s one of the best parts of the First Vision, I think. It’s the very first thing that Jesus says to him when He speaks to him. It’s ‘Your sins are forgiven you.’ That’s what He wants to say to him first. That’s first and foremost on his mind and in his heart. . . . And who hasn’t approached God in prayer seeking forgiveness for your sins? And what sweeter thing could you have heard in the Sacred Grove from the lips of the Savior besides ‘Your sins are forgiven you.’?”
- Heard: “Can you imagine what little Joseph thought? ‘[God's] got to be so busy. There’s so much going on in the world, what about that volcano that erupted? All the other things and He heard [my prayer]? I didn’t even know it was going to make it up past through the trees. And He actually heard what I had to say. That’s amazing. That’s fantastic.’ . . . Joseph learned that when he went in. 'I’m heard of God in Heaven. He’s not too busy for someone like me.' And He didn’t come and give minimal effort when He showed up either.”
- Beloved: “What about that word that He said about His Son? That could be said about every soul in this room, every person you pass tomorrow, every person you stand in line with at the grocery store, that word 'beloved.' . . . Beloved means "fully loved." He said it about Jesus, He believed it about Joseph, and it’s true about every person in the room.
- Known: “Remember the very first word of the Restoration is ‘Joseph.’ ‘God knew my name,’ is what he says. ‘He knew who I was and why I was there. Of all the people in the world, He knew me.’ Can you imagine how shocking that was? And he says later on, you’ll read in the history, ‘I’m just a kid of no consequence. I can’t understand why everybody is persecuting me. Our family just moved to New York a couple of years ago. We’re new kids on the block. And we’re here because my dad’s been bankrupt a couple of times and made bad investments. . . . We’re nobodies.’ . . . I want to believe in a God who talks to a farm boy with dirt under his fingernails. I want to believe in that type of God who will meet anyone in their normal places like that.”
Watch Butler’s entire class here.