October 7, 2013 by FHElessons
I have another wonderful Why I Believe essay for you today!
If you are new to this series, you can find Questions and Answers About Gaining a Testimony HERE. You can find instructions for writing your own Why I Believe essay HERE. And you can find all the essays in this series by clicking on “Why I Believe” in the menu at the top of the page.
If you would like to share your own Why I Believe story, please e-mail me at FHElessons@aol.com and include a picture of yourself if you can.
Why I Believe
First of all, I have to say that I am thankful that I was born into a family of people who were already members of the church. My father was baptized the year I was born, and I was sealed to my parents in the St. George Temple when I was nine months old. I always wonder if I would have been smart enough to recognize the truth if it was brought to me by missionaries. I really don’t think I would have been intelligent enough to realize on my own the many things that I have known and experienced since infancy.
Now, on to why I believe . . .the easiest answer is IT’S TRUE! I KNOW IT! As sure as I know that I am sitting at this keyboard drawing breath, I have that same knowledge that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true and living church on the face of the earth, and the only one with which the Lord is well-pleased. I have faith that Jesus Christ lived in the meridian of time and established His church on the earth. I have faith that He is and was The Only Begotten Son of the Father, that He took upon Him the sins of all mankind, was crucified and that He rose again on the third day. By knowing this and having faith in this, I know that He lives today and that He guides His church in a very real and personal way.
The Plan of Salvation is perfect. It just rings truth and familiarity in my ears every time I hear it or think about it. God’s plan of casting a veil of forgetfulness over our minds, giving us the opportunity to walk by faith, is a marvel to me. The fact that we are on the earth to prove ourselves and see if we will be obedient and faithful to the end just makes too much sense to discount. This gives me and other faithful saints a yardstick with which to measure our lives each and every day. I know that I will someday answer to my Heavenly Father and give an accounting of my life here on the earth, and I plan to make it a good report. This plan for me is deeply personal, but yet universal to everyone on the earth. We were all there in our pre-mortal existence with our Heavenly Father. We all knew and accepted the plan. We all promised obedience. I feel that because of this knowledge and faith that I have been blessed with that more is expected of me than other people that I know. The fact that where more is given, more is required is a principle which guides me every day of my life.
So we walk by faith in this life. I have never seen a heavenly messenger, held the golden plates, or been administered to by an angel, yet my testimony and witness of the truth is every bit as real and powerful as someone who has witnessed these things. This is due to my testimony and knowledge of the Book of Mormon. I know that it is true. I know that it is the word of God. I know that it was written by ancient prophets. I know that it was delivered to the prophet Joseph Smith in a miraculous way. I know that he translated it through the gift and power of God. I know all this because I have read it, pondered over it, prayed about it and received an answer to my prayers. If the Book of Mormon is the fruit of the prophet Joseph Smith, and if we can know whether a prophet is false or not by his fruits, let me tell you that Joseph Smith is not a false prophet because I have sampled his fruit (the Book of Mormon) and I know that it is true beyond a shadow of a doubt. Do you want to know how many times I have read the Book of Mormon? Well, I would like to know too. I lost count, but I will bet it’s getting close to a hundred. I read it nearly seven times each year and I have been doing that for a long time. Every time I finish Moroni Chapter 10, I drop to my knees and ask for a witness that it is true and every time I get an answer. YES! That alone has made me dedicate my life to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
If you know that the Book of Mormon is true, then so many other spiritual dominoes fall into place. If the Book of Mormon is true then Joseph Smith is a prophet. If Joseph Smith is a prophet then Thomas S. Monson is the Lord’s prophet on the earth today. If Thomas S. Monson is the true and living prophet then this is the true church of Jesus Christ, and He stands at the head of it. If this is the true church of Jesus Christ then the Priesthood has been restored to the earth. If the Priesthood has been restored to the earth then the power of God is among us. That means apostles, general authorities, stake presidents, bishops, quorum presidents, home teachers, fathers and missionaries have the authority to act in the name of God given to them literally from the hands of our Savior Jesus Christ, because he restored all things to the earth in this dispensation of the fullness of times.
Another reason why I believe is because the Lord allowed me to serve a mission for Him in South Africa. I had enough spiritual experiences during these two years to last a lifetime. I could fill volumes about my mission experience alone, and have done so, but for the purposes of this essay let it suffice to say that every day of my life is a partial payment to the Lord for allowing me to wear that black name tag on my chest for those two years. My mission is very personal. No one really knows the wonders and miracles that I was allowed to be involved with except the Lord and my companions. The mission serves as an anchor to my soul and a firm foundation upon which I have built (and hopefully will continue to build).
Another reason why I believe is the temple. No other church knows what we know and learn in the temple. It is all too sacred to put in print, but when I increased my commitment to the Lord through temple service, that’s when my spirituality really took off. It is beautiful to be in a marriage where we are sealed for time and all eternity. It is beautiful to have children sealed to us and that were born under the covenant of eternal marriage. It is beautiful to be able to prove my worthiness every two years by giving the proper answers to my priesthood leaders and being deemed worthy to enter into the House of the Lord and participate in saving ordinances for the dead.
There are so many more reasons why I believe. I could go on and on. Here are just a few personal things that could probably have me declared certifiably insane if you presented them in a court of law:
1. My favorite song of all time is Hymn 26 “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer”. I can’t get through it without crying. I usually end up not singing verse three and four because it’s just too beautiful.
2. I have a similar experience with the Primary song entitled “My Heavenly Father Loves Me”. When I get to the line that goes “He gave me my life, my mind, my heart – I thank Him rev’rently – For all His creations of which I’m a part – Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me”, I just lose all dignity. Those words are so beautiful that I can’t control my emotions even thinking about them.
3. Seminary. Seminary was a turning point in my life. During my junior and senior years of high school I took seminary seriously. When I say seriously, you would not believe how seriously I took it. What other church requires so much of its teenagers? Those teenagers will go to their schools armed with the spirit. Memorizing those scriptures helped me so much on my mission. I was so much in love with seminary, that I taught it for an additional three years when my children were very young.
4. My childhood church building is one of my favorite places on planet Earth. It is located in a wooded area in Virginia. When I go back to Washington, D.C., it is really the only place that I want to see. I value it above any place I know. When somebody tells me to “go to my happy place”, this is the place I go. It is where I was baptized, where I earned my cub scout awards, where I first passed, prepared and blessed the sacrament, where I scored my first game-winning basket, where I first slow-danced with a girl, where I had my first car accident, where I received my Eagle Scout award, where I got my first kiss from a girl and where I graduated from seminary. From age 7 to 17, I packed a lifetime of memories and they all centered around that church building.
Last, but not least, a final reason why I believe is because of my experience of being a bishop. I can personally tell you that the Lord directs His church through inspiration given to common individuals such as myself. I can personally tell you that the words of counsel and wisdom that I spoke to the members of my ward were not from me. The Lord loves His children and He wants them to be happy and repent when necessary. He is a personal and loving Father. When the members came to me, a common but worthy man, and confessed their sins, the Lord allowed me to help heal them through the powers of His atoning sacrifice which He provided to all of us in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Cavalry. I had the privilege of having a front row seat to the miracle of forgiveness every day.
I hope you know that my love for the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ will never die. I hope you know that I love my Savior and my Heavenly Father beyond compare. I hope you know that I have tried to wear myself out in the service of my Heavenly Father. I hope you know that I plan to serve the Lord the rest of my mortal life and into the eternities. This church is true. God lives and Jesus is the Christ. Joseph Smith is a true prophet and I love him for what he did to bring the work forward. Thomas S. Monson is the Lord’s prophet in our world today. The Lord guides the church under his direction and speaks to him for our world. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and can be the instrument to bring everyone in the world to the truth. Of this I solemnly testify. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
For a condensed but printable version of Mike’s testimony, which will fit perfectly inside the cover of a Book of Mormon, click HERE. You can print as many copies as you want to put inside Books of Mormon and give out to all your favorite people! (The type may look a little bit messed up on the “view” version, but everything should look right after you download.)