Thursday, June 4, 2009

Gaining a Testimony

I was reading this talk today by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. This isn't an article of the week and I only want to focus on the last couple paragraphs of his talk.

Elder Ballard discusses how we can learn the lessons of the past in order to "build personal testimony on a solid bedrock of obedience, faith, and the witness of the Spirit."

And so it returns, as it always does, to your own personal faith and testimony. That is the difference-maker, my young brothers and sisters. That is how you know. That is how you avoid the mistakes of the past and take your spirituality to the next level. If you are open and receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit in your lives, you will understand the lessons of the past, and they will be burned into your souls by the power of your testimonies.

And how do you get such a testimony? Well, there’s no new technology for that, nor will there ever be. You cannot do a Google search to gain a testimony. You can’t text message faith. You gain a vibrant, life-changing testimony today the same way it has always been done. The process hasn’t been changed. It comes through desire, study, prayer, obedience, and service. That is why the teachings of prophets and apostles, past and present, are as relevant to your life today as they ever have been.

Learning the Lessons of the Past,” Ensign, May 2009, 34

Oftentimes, we try to find proof and hard evidence upon which to base our testimonies. We want books or articles that prove this, that, or the other and we don't want to believe that there is life after death or that we have a Heavenly Father merely because we "feel" like there is. Moreover, when we do have testimonies of the Gospel and of the plan of salvation, and when others are having a hard time believing us because we have no hard evidence why we believe what we do, only feelings, it can be frustrating.

However, as Elder Ballard teaches, no matter how the process by which we gain information changes over time, the process by which we gain a testimony and develop a relationship with our Father in Heaven never changes. As silly as doing a Google search to gain a testimony sounds, sometimes that's how we act. We begin to forget that only a desire, study, prayer, obedience, and service, i.e. striving to lead a Christlike life, will bring us closer to our Savior and our Father.

I know that only through sincere prayer and continual study of the words of the prophets both ancient and modern can we develop a testimony strong enough to get us through the challenges that we will face in our day. The Lord loves us and will bless us with His confirming Spirit as we strive to come closer to Him.

Jeremy