We were talking today about Zion's camp. This has always been a little bit of a difficult story for me. It seems strange that Heavenly Father would give a revelation to Joseph Smith to march 900 plus miles with 200 or so men to help the persecuted saints, and then when they got there, they were unable to do anything concrete. A later revelation told Joseph that it was a trial of faith for those that came on the march, but the apparent, practical reason ended up being that that tried faith of those men created the later leadership of the church.
It just bugged me. Why get that first revelation at all? Why not tell Joseph what would happen if they tried to redress the wrongs of the early saints in Missouri? It was a ton of wasted effort in that way. It made Joseph look fallible (the worst aspect to me). I want Joseph to look like the powerful prohpet he was at all times, in all circumstances. Anyone who has read the compilation of his revelations (the Doctrine and Covenants), or his stunning translations of ancient scripture (the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price) knows that here was a man that was larger than life --he did things that no man could have done alone. He must have had (and did have) divine help. So why did Heavenly Father allow this incident that would make him look silly or crazy to his enemies?
The first thing that comes to mind are times in my own life where I needed to be led in a certain direction, and Heavenly Father, who always uses the most efficient manner to work, probably wouldn't choose to give me the novel -long explanation to direct my decision ahead of time. For example, moving to Tooele. He wasn't going to give me a long, dramatic manifestation to tell me about all the opportunities for growth that that small town would give me. I was also going to give birth to a deaf daughter out there, and I needed that personal growth at the time to not completely lose myself in sorrow and hard work.
For all I know, I could have gotten a priesthood blessing telling me that Tooele was going to be important to me. I don't remember it. It wouldn't have meant much to me at the time besides some temporary comfort during a stressful time. I had to experience it to know what it would do for me.
The reason why we moved to Tooele was because I wouldn't under any circumstances move to an even smaller town: Grantsville which was my crowd-hating husband's first choice. That was the reason. Just like the reason for Zions camp was to help gain "restitution for the beleagered saints".
But the REASON was because I needed to develop talents and capacities that I was going to need. The REASON for Zion's camp was to develop a core group of men who knew Joseph Smith intimately, with unswerving loyalty to the Lord and his cause to help restore Jesus Christs' church for the final time. I wonder what WOULD have happened if the Lord had said: march 900 miles together to get to know each other and test your faith. There wouldn't have been a good reason in their minds to do it. Whereas fighting for a just cause, one that they were probably passionate about with righteous anger, did do it for them. Do you think maybe he would deal with them and with me in a different manner if we were ready for it? Maybe so. I do believe efficiency has something to do with it too though. I don't believe Heavenly Father uses any more of his great power than he needs to. I also think that making Joseph "look good" wasn't His highest priority.
I guess I'm just trying to learn more about how He works in my life, and the best way I've found to help me understand a little is to compare my experiences dealing with Him to those of people in the scriptures and church history, or even the experiences of my parents. I do know that things seem to always work out the best for me if I'm trying to do what I should. I see His hand in my life. I see how much He cares for me by the good care he takes of me, even when I'm being weak or whiny.