The Gospel Doctrine lesson 22 manual objective is “to help class members understand what it means to experience a change of heart and continue in the process of conversion.”
To consider one contemporary woman’s testimony, as we examine what it means to receive God’s image in our countenances.
Are you a fan of HGTV’s Fixer Upper, yet? I discovered the show on Netflix, and I have pretty much watched every episode. Chip and Joanna Gaines, a Christian couple in Waco, Texas, run a home renovation business that is rapidly turning into a home design empire, and the show displays one disaster-to-masterpiece transformation after another.
This show naturally lends itself to metaphors about spiritual life, the most obvious being the idea that we are all fixer uppers. In the same way that any property the Gaines’ touch becomes gold, we are refined and remade through the Atonement of Christ. But one particular aspect of this transformative process has become more clear to me through thinking about Joanna and Chip’s lives and reading the text for this week’s Sunday School lesson, Alma 5 through 7.
Even if you haven’t seen the show, you have possibly watched Joanna’s testimony, which has more than 5.25 million views on YouTube. She says, “I heard Him specifically say, ‘Joanna, I have a calling for you. You’re going to have a platform one day.’” She did not know what that meant, but when she closed her small business to be with her growing family, she felt God telling her to entrust her dreams to Him. If she did, He would make them greater than she could even imagine.
Years later, when she felt inspired to do so, she reopened the shop, which continues to grow. It is not hard to recognize Joanna’s revelation coming to pass.
One of the most captivating aspects of their lives is Chip and Joanna’s vision. They see possibilities where many would see despair. They infuse architectural spaces with new life through sound repair, thoughtful restoration, and beautiful furnishing. They follow God’s vision for their lives, and millions of viewers are their witnesses.
Alma the Younger understood the process of faith and also the result. He, like Joanna, also understood that we all bear responsibility for having faithful vision: “Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” (Alma5:14), he asks. Later, Alma asks his listeners whether they use the eye of faith to imagine themselves at the judgment bar, whether they can “look up, having the image of God engraven upon [their] countenances” (Alma 5:19; emphasis added).
To become reborn and truly changed, we have to receive the image of God and it must become an essential part of us. We are not simply becoming a better version of ourselves. Rather, we come to reflect Christ’s image. The life of a believer is unmistakeable in that it bears God’s imprint. We are living icons that point to their Creator and contain his very attributes and thoughts.
And the true beauty of this process? We get to use our own second sight, our imagination, to discover what God would have us do, who God would have us be. God allows us to be co-creators with Him as we work toward our eternal destiny. Alma encouraged his listeners to picture their own spiritual futures as though they were reality. We can practice this kind of sight and let that lead us to renovate our lives.
Having faith and listening to God are essential parts of vision. At the end of her testimony Joanna says, “Let God speak into your life. Let His Father heart come and say this is what I have for you. And I think that’s the key: not believing the lies, fixing our eyes on Jesus, and walking in that truth.”
This is how we receive Christ’s image in our countenance and then have it engraved there. The more we actively look to Christ, the more we will look like Him. And that transformation will be glorious.
I am all at once what Christ is, since he was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, patch, matchwood,
Is immortal diamond.
(Gerard Manley Hopkins, “That Nature Is a Heraclitean Fire”)
Related Mormon Women Project Interviews
Dressed Like A Queen, Rosie Card
“Whatever it is, I think creating is the greatest distraction and that’s where our self worth comes from. It obviously goes back to who we are as daughters of the Creator. Creating is what we are meant to do.”
Moving Past Forever, Kenna Christensen
“I would say, the Lord is aware of you and your situation. He has the ability to turn any tragedy into something beautiful. If we seek for His help and guidance, that’s exactly what He’ll do. I would also say honor your grief. That was something a friend of mine told me during my grief. Our feelings matter. It’s okay to hurt and it’s okay not to be okay. It’s hard, but it’s a part of mortality.”
Other Related Women’s Voices
If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments, Carole M. Stephens
“Even with all of the mistakes, opposition, and learning that accompany our mortal experience, God never loses sight of our eternal potential, even when we do.”
Do I Believe?, Bonnie L. Oscarson
“Conversion comes when we serve those around us. It comes from earnest prayer, regular temple attendance, and faithful fulfillment of our God-given responsibilities. It takes consistency and daily effort.”
Wanted: Hands and Hearts to Hasten the Work, Linda K. Burton
“You have been sent to earth in this dispensation of time because of who you are and what you have been prepared to do! Regardless of what Satan would try to persuade us to think about who we are, our true identity is that of a disciple of Jesus Christ!”
Looking for additional perspectives on this lesson? We recommend Mormon Sunday School, Meridian Magazine and LDSLiving.