The Spirit of Elijah is a very real thing-I know people that have it! It induces them to spend countless hours searching out their ancestors with a passion rarely seen these days for anything-much less finding out who we are related to. It causes people to stand in church and tell stories of their kin as if they owned the event themselves. Some of us feel annoyed by ‘family history’ people. Some of us can’t imagine ever caring enough to give up any time to this pursuit. Some of us are very adept at tuning out the words ‘indexing’, ‘ancestor’, ‘family names’, and the like. Quite frankly, some of us are barely surviving our own realities without the added burden of chasing around the internet for dead folk. But, I want to make a case for Elijah and the work that is carried on in his honor.
In the fall of 2004, I was the mother of four young boys residing in Alabama. As a religious person, I wanted to immerse these boys of mine in the feelings of the Spirit as much as possible. At the time, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught a three-pronged principle that I liked to think about. It went like this-
The three-fold mission of the Church is to:
1. Proclaim the Gospel
2. Perfect the Saints
3. Redeem the Dead
I liked it. It was tidy, concise, but expandable. Using this three-fold mission as a springboard, I concluded that the best way to get the Spirit into our home would be to engage in each of these three missions. ‘Perfecting the Saints’ lined up with roles I was already playing: wife, mother, and a youth stewardship at church. ‘Proclaim the Gospel’ was an on-going activity involving trying to live an ‘exemplary life’ and opening my mouth to others. ‘Redeem the Dead’ was unchartered water for me and I decided to embark as best I could on the adventure. I set aside time each week to go to the Church History Library and do some work. A friend met me there to assist my efforts and another friend dropped off her older daughter to tend my children while I worked. It was a good experience and I will never forget the thrill I felt when I saw my own granddad’s name on the 1910 census. There he was in living color-age 12! I know that this does not sound exciting in the least...but, seeing your relatives embedded in history stirs your heart, I promise. The Spirit of Elijah almost reached full bloom in me.
Unfortunately, not long afterwards, our lives turned upside down. We left Alabama for employment in Utah, lived in two different rentals, bought property, designed a house, scrapped that project at the last minute, bought an 100-year old house, made it serviceable, finally moved into that house, had three more babies, took on some hefty church responsibilities, pretended to homeschool and generally lost sight of anything that didn’t involve the activity of survival.
But I can tell you that in the midst it all, I have felt Elijah whispering to me…come back, come get it, come find us, come find yourself. And so with the help of my friend, Natalie, I am accepting the invitation. I’m back online, using spare time to look at Find-a-grave, Ancestory.com, and FamilySearch. And I’m telling you, there is something there. I was in tears twice the first day that we worked together-for no explicable reason. I can only assume that there is a deep longing in me to connect to my people. There is a need to know who they are and where they came from because buried in my own DNA is their history and their story. I am them and they are me. Malachi said it this way:
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children
and the heart of the children to their fathers…
I think it’s pretty cool that it was prophesied that I would feel this way and that those tears of longing and belonging would be a part of the preparation for the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The whisperings of Elijah have been trying to turn my heart for a very long time and I have stood on the precipice knowing that once the whisperings caught full hold, my life would never be the same in terms of how I spent my time and how I felt about my family.
This work of Elijah does takes time and energy and effort-three things in short supply over here. Fortunately, God has not been depending on me to carry this effort along. It’s been evolving at unprecedented pace without me! And now I’m ducking back in and finding out that this is exactly how I want to spend my spare time. I love these people that I don’t even remember (yet). Futhermore, I feel that the Spirit of Elijah is not just a sealing power but a healing power-there’s another post in the making! This turning of our hearts to our fathers will fulfill us and build our confidence like few things can. As you start to put your family puzzle together, you will feel a sense of purpose and real belonging creep into your life. Gathering families together is a Godly pursuit that has been going on since the dawn of time. In Old Testament times the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob didn’t ‘die’ they were ‘gathered unto (their) people’. Isn’t that a beautiful way to think about it?
Gathering with your people will change your life…are you ready?