storm clouds A personal witness

A Personal Witness

“Have you ever prayed to find out for yourself if the church is true?” my missionary companion asked me, as we sat in our apartment in Algeciras, Spain. The year was 1993.

Our apartment overlooked the Mediterranean Sea, and as I peered out the window I could see Morocco to the south of us, Morocco with its bright colors and tourist shops filled with exotic souvenirs.

“No,” I answered without hesitating, “I’ve never had the need to pray about it. I’ve always known the church is true.”

What I thought was the perfect response didn’t sit well with my companion. Sitting up straight and looking me in the eye, she asked, “How, then, are you going to respond to the people in Spain who ask if you have prayed to know if the church is true? How can you bear testimony of Moroni 10: 3-5 if you have never applied that promise to your life?”

I reflected on her words for a few moments and then whispered, ” Hmm…that’s a good point.”

My first companion, the one who introduced me to peppermint tea with honey (though I always passed on the honey) had given me something to think about.

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I was born and raised in the church. Born of goodly parents who taught me the truths of the gospel, I never doubted the things they taught me. But while I never doubted the truths they taught, I did have many questions. My parents can attest to this. They can attest to the hours we sat around the dinner table discussing gospel-related topics, sometimes in a heated fashion, long after everyone else had finished their meal and left the room to pursue things of a lighter nature.

“It just doesn’t make sense to me how….?” “Can you explain to me why…?” “How is it possible that…?” I bombarded my parents with questions, and they did their best to respond.

I’ve always believed in Heavenly Father’s plan which, if followed, will lead to happiness. And I believe the scripture that says we need the “milk” before we can have the “meat” (1 Cor 3: 1-2), but part of me wanted the “meat” now. I wanted to know it all. I wanted to have all the answers to all my questions. After all these years, I still have a desire for greater knowledge, but my patience and faith have grown, and I feel comfortable focusing all my attention on the “milk” which, to me, is the simple truths of the gospel.

Last week one of my daughters mentioned at the dinner table that she had been reading from a book of scripture stories. While reading these stories she had a feeling that she didn’t want to do anything bad; she had the desire to do good continually. A small incident that has the potential of having a lasting impact, for this is how my testimony of gospel truths has grown over the years…one simple, happy, peaceful experience at a time. “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” (Alma 37:6)

Through many years of trying, and sometimes failing, to keep the commandments; repenting and trying again; reading the scriptures; saying my prayers; attending church; and serving others; I have come to know for myself the truth of the following things:

God lives. He is our Father in Heaven—our Heavenly Father. He has a physical body of flesh and bones and loves us unconditionally. He has a plan for our lives. This plan is called the Plan of Salvation, or the Great Plan of Happiness. What is this plan? It is the knowledge of where we came from, why we are here on earth, and where we will go when we die. Having the answer to these questions brings a lasting peace and inner happiness that can be found nowhere else on earth. My greatest desire is to give everyone with whom I come into contact the opportunity to learn about and accept this Great Plan of Happiness.

Jesus Christ is our older brother and our Savior. He lived a perfect life and suffered for our sins, for our weaknesses and imperfections, for our anxieties and guilt, for every “yucky feeling we have” (as we like to say in our home), and He did this out of pure, unconditional love for us, expecting nothing in return, except that we accept His sacrifice and use it to bless our lives by repenting and trying to be a little better each day. How grateful I am that I don’t have to forever live with the regret of bad choices made!

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that is on the earth today is the same church that was on the earth in Jesus’ time. As with the church of Jesus Christ in Biblical times, The Church of Jesus Christ today has the priesthood, prophets, apostles, unpaid church leaders, tithing, temples, and every saving ordinance necessary for us to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. During years of apostasy after the death of Jesus, these spiritual things were taken from the earth, but were once again restored through Joseph Smith, the first prophet in this dispensation. I know that Joseph Smith was called of God to restore these truths to the earth. Truly, he was a humble follower of Jesus Christ who paved the way for us to have all the blessings contained in the gospel of Jesus Christ. He translated the Book of Mormon which, hand in hand with the Bible, testifies of truth. Did Joseph write the Book of Mormon? No! No man could have written the Book of Mormon in the few short weeks it took for Joseph to translate it. Through the power of God, Joseph Smith was able to translate the words of many prophets that were written centuries ago. A remarkable story? Yes! And one to shout from the rooftops, for it is true!

How grateful I am for the restoration of these gospel truths:

For the power of the priesthood, which blesses my family in good times and bad.

For prophets and apostles, who lead and guide our church. What a blessing it is to be able to put complete trust in a person, the prophet, knowing he is the spokesman for Jesus Christ. It is difficult for me to fathom living in a world without the loving guidance of a prophet, who at this time is President Russell M. Nelson. I will follow his counsel without hesitation.

For church leaders who freely give of their time, talents, and love to help me and my family on our journey back to our Father in Heaven.

For the law of tithing, which has blessed my life in countless ways. It has never been a sacrifice to return to the Lord a portion of what He has given me.

For temples and saving ordinances, which bring peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.

One of the best things about the gospel of Jesus Christ is that you don’t have to rely on another person’s testimony. You can find out for yourself whether or not The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. This promise is found in Moroni 10: 3-5:

“Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having fain in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

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I pondered this scripture and profound promise as I sat in my apartment in Spain.

Later that night, I took a chair into an empty room and knelt beside it. I gazed out the window at the moon that was flooding the room with its shimmering light. Closing my eyes I said a sincere prayer, asking Heavenly Father if what I had been taught all my life about the gospel of Jesus Christ was true. I prayed earnestly and with real intent, having a real desire to know the truth.

My answer came as a feeling that flooded my body with pure light and joy and peace. Tears filled my eyes and rolled down my face as this indescribable feeling filled my soul, for I had received for myself a witness from the Holy Ghost testifying of the truthfulness of the the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I received my witness, and you can, too.

I love life! I am so grateful to be living during this time in history—a time of great wickedness and conflict and darkness, but also a time of great happiness and righteousness and exquisite light. The gospel of Jesus Christ fills my soul with light!

I’ll sum up my testimony with a quote from a friend:

“A few months ago I stepped into the sun room from the kitchen. A storm had been brewing and on the entire left side of the sky there were clouds with multiple shades of gray; it was very dark and stormy looking in a powerful way. And on my right side, it was brilliant blue with the sun shining behind some white, fluffy clouds. The contrast between the two was stunning. Perhaps the dark storm appeared more menacing in comparison with the light shining right next to it, but it took my breath away. I said to my daughter, “Wow! That is beautiful. It’s like my life!” Then we both chuckled a little bit and went on about the day.

And that is really how I feel about my life. I think it’s how we all could feel about the world we live in. There are some really sad things, some really horrible things, some really hard things we have to deal with. There is a lot of wickedness. It is stormy. And yet, there is light and happiness. There are some really great things, some really happy things, some joyful and inspiring things that we are blessed with. There is a lot of righteousness.

The thing that brings me the greatest comfort is to know that behind those storm clouds on the left, there was sunshine. There is always Light. Christ is the light and life of the world, and of my life. He allows storms for our growth. He allows storms, and He provides peace.

I invite you to seek Him out for light amidst your storm, whatever it may be.”

To learn more about God’s Plan of Salvation, check out this 3 minute video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MiF_HKoFr4&sns=em

Moroni 10: 3-5
https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/moro/10.3-5

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