I want all people to know that I know that President Thomas S. Monson is God’s prophet, seer, and revelator on the earth today. He has been called just as all prophets have been called since the beginning of time, and that is by God. God calls prophets, such as Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and others. It is God who has chosen President Monson to be His representative on the earth at this time. Is he still a man? Yes. But the Lord has anointed him with the position and authority to lead and direct His kingdom on the earth. We will listen to his counsel as it is the word of the Lord (D&C 1:38).
I noticed, as have others, that President Monson did not look like himself yesterday morning at the news conference when his new calling was announced and the new First Presidency organization. He looked tired, worn out, and distracted. He was not his usual jovial self. With all of the events of the weekend, the passing of his dearest friend, the funeral, the burial, his calling as God’s spokesman on earth, and his new responsibility as prophet for over 13 million members of the Church, I think any 80-year-old would probably be a little frail. That, in addition to his diabetes condition, which he downplayed, might have had something to do with it.
But I was listening to Bob Lonsberry this morning, and he had a slightly different and unique take on what might have been occurring. He said that often when mortals have communication with the divine it literally saps them of their physical strength. It disorients them for a time. He related the times when Joseph Smith saw God and angels in vision. After the first vision, Joseph recounts:
When I came to myself again, I found myself lying on my back, looking up into heaven. When the light had departed, I had no strength; but soon recovering in some degree, I went home. And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was. I replied, “Never mind, all is well—I am well enough off.” (JS-H 1:20)
Again, after communicating with the angel Moroni, Joseph tells us:
I shortly after arose from my bed, and, as usual, went to the necessary labors of the day; but, in attempting to work as at other times, I found my strength so exhausted as to render me entirely unable. My father, who was laboring along with me, discovered something to be wrong with me, and told me to go home. I started with the intention of going to the house; but, in attempting to cross the fence out of the field where we were, my strength entirely failed me, and I fell helpless on the ground, and for a time was quite unconscious of anything.
Similar experience are found in the Book of Mormon when people have had intense spiritual experiences. King Lamoni collapsed under such spiritual manifestations (Alma 18:42). He “was under the power of God” to such an extent that Ammon “knew that this had overcome his natural frame” (Alma 19:6). At the beginning of the Book of Mormon we are told that after Lehi had seen a vision that he “he returned to his own house at Jerusalem; and he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit and the things which he had seen” (1 Nephi 1:7). In the Bible, when Daniel saw the Lord in vision, the scriptures tell us:
Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.
Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. (Daniel 10:8-9)
Nephi witnesses after he had seen great visions, “Behold, I am full of the Spirit of God, insomuch that my frame has no strength” (1 Nephi 17:47).
Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon witnessed in vision the revelation of the three degrees of glory which later became D&C 76. There were other men in the room who watched this unfold. Philo Dibble recounts:
Joseph sat firmly and calmly all the time in the midst of a magnificent glory, but Sidney sat limp and pale, apparently as limber as a rag, observing which, Joseph remarked, smilingly, “Sidney is not as used to it as I am.” (Juvenile Instructor, May 1892, pp. 303-4)
Did President Monson have such spiritual witnesses of his divine calling as God’s prophet over the weekend? It is entirely possible. Was he visited by President Hinckley who passed on the responsibilities of the calling? Possibly. Did Joseph Smith come to him? Maybe. Did the Lord Himself, Jesus Christ, visit him and give him the charge over His church? It’s probable. We know that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve were in the temple on Sunday where they likely held a prayer circle and made the formal blessings, ordinations and setting apart of the men to the various offices and callings (see these words by N. Eldon Tanner on the calling of President Kimball). Elder Boyd K. Packer has said that it is the opportunity of the prophet of God to speak directly with God:
Hidden away in the central part of the temple is the Holy of Holies, where the President of the Church may retire when burdened down with heavy decisions to seek an interview with Him whose Church it is. The prophet holds the keys, the spiritual keys and the very literal key to this one door in that sacred edifice. (Holy Temple, 4)
As Bob Lonsberry put it, President Monson might have had such Divine communion over the weekend, which drained his energy for the Monday morning meeting. In any case, God has chosen and called a new prophet, and the work will roll on.