Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Inspirations March 29, 2009

My mind immediately went to testimonies this morning. I’m not certain why, except to think this is something my Heavenly Father would like me to write about today. It wasn’t until several minutes later I remembered today is Fast and Testimony meeting for our Church and I thought perhaps this is where I need to bear my testimony.

For those who may not know, Fast and Testimony meeting occurs once a month in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed the Mormon Church). While it typically comes on the first Sunday of the month, twice a year it’s moved to either a week before (like today) or a week after when we have General Conference (an annual and semi-annual broadcast from our worldwide leaders). We fast (don’t eat) for two meals, beginning and ending with a prayer, and it’s usually done with a purpose in mind: struggles or questions we may have, in behalf of others who may be sick, etc. Then during our main meeting in Church we are given the chance to stand and bear our testimonies.

Testimonies are precious things. They can take a lifetime to build, and are put together by a combination of careful study of the scriptures, loads of prayer, much teaching and learning, personal experiences and then the testifying of the Holy Spirit. In some people they are strong throughout their entire lives. For others, well, the testimonies may crumble, though we all hope they will eventually be rebuilt.

Perhaps some of the strongest testimonies one hears come from the mouths of children. They have such an incredible ability to trust and know what they are being told is true. When they state the words, “I know Jesus Christ lived,” it is done with all the trust and knowledge their little hearts can hold!

And yet…there always seems to come a time when that knowledge is challenged. As we grow from children into teens, we begin to doubt what we’ve been taught all along. Though you may not believe it, this is a good thing. Every child of God must move from relying on the testimonies of parents and church leaders into gaining our own firm testimonies. This process can be frightening for those parents and leaders, but it is the time for them to trust they taught all they needed to teach – providing a fixed and solid foundation – and rely on the Holy Spirit to help guide the teens toward the right path.

A little over a year ago I was directed to an article written by a woman who was very anti-Mormon. Her basic idea revolved around how Mormons bear their testimonies, and how she helped a friend from being swayed by what she believed really happens.

I had to separate myself from writer and Church member as I read her article. As a writer it was obvious the “story” was contrived, made up in her head. There were too many things that could have gone wrong for it to have truly gone so smoothly. It was also obvious she didn’t really understand the Mormon Church, as she got several things wrong in her account of what she believes to be true.

As a Church member I only felt sadness. Her belief as to what a Mormon’s testimony entailed was to 1. Stare the person right in the eye. You had to make eye contact, and 2. Say the words, “I know” to everything.

It’s true, when we bear our testimonies we do meet the eyes of those we are speaking to, and the words “I know” flow from our lips for one simple reason: we know! I believe anyone who has ever stated a spiritual truth has done the same, not matter what church they belong to.

This woman did not recognize the third step to bearing one’s testimony. We as members of the Church have no control over this third step, but it is vital in the convincing power of what we attempt to portray.

Before I tell you what it is, let me continue with this article. At one point the writer is confronting her friend, who talks of the warm and overwhelming feeling she experienced when the Mormons had given their testimonies. To this the woman said something to the effect of, “Don’t believe it. It’s not real. It’s a trick.”

Those words were powerful, but not in furthering God’s work. They broke my heart the moment I read them, and I ached for this lost, misguided and well-meaning woman. Why? She just taught this friend of hers not to trust the third step in the testimony process: the witness of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, and the Holy Ghost. No matter what you name him he is the key, the most vital step in gaining and giving one’s testimony. It is that warm and gentle feeling, that sudden knowledge of peace, that gentle heavenly witness that what we are hearing is the truth. It is his influence that converts, that helps seal our belief into knowledge, that testifies to our own spirits and the spirits of others.

I walked away from the article with a heartfelt prayer that even if this writer did convince her friend not to join our Church, hopefully she at least didn’t teach her not to trust the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

I’d like to leave you today with my own testimony. Trust when I say these are things I’ve known in my heart for too many years to count. They are things I’ve studied, been taught, have been prayed over, have counseled with others about, and have of a surety been told by the Holy Spirit that they are true.

I know Jesus Christ is the Savior. I know He lived, and that one day He will live again. I know He endured more for our sakes than we will ever be asked to endure. I know that He did this all so that the Father’s plan of salvation could be fulfilled. I know that He loves me, and understands everything I am called to bear, bring upon myself, or must suffer due to the choices of others.

I also know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is truly the Lord’s Church restored at this time. I know the Book of Mormon is His word and teachings, given to help guide us through these latter days, coupled with the Holy Bible, and brought to light by Joseph Smith. I know Joseph Smith to have been called of God as a prophet. I know this mortal man endured more than we can ever recognize in his efforts to bring this Church back to the earth.

I know the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Church with the whole truth, that it only leads us into a better, happier way of life if we will simply follow the precepts. I know it’s not an easy Church to belong to, but I would rather struggle here than get by somewhere else.

I know so many other things, but this I want to leave you with. I have stated what I know to be true, but it’s okay if you don’t know it. This is my testimony. It is what the Holy Spirit has witnessed to me. It is something that cannot be taken away from me, no matter how the winds may howl nor how loud others may say nay. I know, and it is enough for me.

1 comment:

Team Jensen said...

Laurie,

I'm so impressed with your writing! You have a way with words that most of us only DREAM about! Thank you for sharing your testimony here on your blog, as well as in church today. One day I will gain enough courage to stand up there, too. Thank you for being an amazing example of strength and wisdom!