One of the most sacred and rare spiritual experiences is a personal visitation of the Lord. This is not to be confused with a “mere” dream, dream-vision, or vision. (See: previous article on dreams and visions). This is an actual visitation where the Lord is personally present. At least two dozen prophets, and others, in ancient and modern times have experienced this theophany. Lorenzo Snow was one of these prophets.
At the time of President Wilford Woodruff‘s death, the church was in dire circumstances financially and otherwise. Senior Apostle Lorenzo Snow was old and in ill health. Remember, he was a contemporary of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, and Wilford Woodruff, all of whom had passed away.
Upon learning of President Woodruff’s passing, President Snow retired to the privacy of the Salt Lake Temple. He knelt at the temple altar, and he sought the Lord’s guidance and instruction.
Elder Snow reminded the Lord of Lorenzo’s repeated pleas for the continued health and extended life of President Woodruff so that he, Elder Snow, would never be called upon to bear the heavy burdens and responsibilities of being President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint. Elder Snow reiterated that he had never sought, nor desired, the responsibility of being president. Nevertheless, “thy will, not mine be done.”
“After finishing his prayer, he expected a reply, some special manifestation from the Lord. There was no reply, no voice, no visitation, no manifestation.
“He passed through the celestial room and out into the large corridor when a most glorious manifestation was given President Snow. One of the most beautiful accounts of this experience is told by his granddaughter, Allie Young Pond.
“‘One evening when I was visiting Grandpa Snow in his room in the Salt Lake Temple, I remained until the doorkeepers had gone and the night watchman had not yet come in. So, Grandpa said he would take me to the main, front entrance and let me out that way. He got his bunch of keys from his dresser.
“‘After we left his room, and while we were still in the large corridor leading into the celestial room, I was walking steps ahead of Grandpa when he stopped me, saying:
“’Wait a moment, Alice. I want to tell you something. It was right here that the Lord Jesus appeared to me at the time of the death of President Woodruff. He instructed me to go right ahead and reorganize the First Presidency of the Church at once and not wait as had been done after the death of the previous presidents, and that I was to succeed President Woodruff.’
(When the Prophet-President of the church passes away, the First Presidency is automatically dissolved. The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles takes the reins of administration until the new Prophet-President is called and the First Presidency reestablished. Prior to Lorenzo Snow, the Quorum of the Twelve ran the church for months, if not years. Throughout our lifetimes, the new Prophet-President has been selected, and the First Presidency reorganized within a matter of days. The Lord himself, ordered this change in procedure when he visited Lorenzo Snow. That set the precedent for today’s transition.)
“‘Then Grandpa came a step nearer and held out his left hand and said: ‘He stood right here, about three feet above the floor. It looked as though he stood on a plate of solid gold.’
“‘Grandpa told me what a glorious personage the Savior is and described his hand, feet, countenance, and beautiful white robes, all of which were of such a glory of whiteness and brightness that he could hardly gaze upon him.
“‘Then Grandpa came another step nearer me and put his right hand on my head and said: ‘Now granddaughter, I want you to remember that this is the testimony of your grandfather, that he told you with his own lips that he actually saw the Savior here in the temple and talked with him face to face.”
“Then we went on and Grandpa let me out of the main front door of the temple.”
Although Lorenzo Snow was old and frail, he made a monumental contribution to the church, and the lives of the members, as Prophet-President.
(Sources: Deseret News, Apr. 2, 1938; Revelation, Lewis J. Harper; “An Experience of My Father’s,” Improvement Era, Sept. 1933, 677-679)