Testimony: The Constant Quest

Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me. (D&C 88:63)

I sense a theme.

President Harold B. Lee taught: "Testimony isn't something that you have today and you keep always. Testimony is either going to grow and grow to the brightness of certainty, or it is going to diminish to nothingness, depending upon what we do about it. I say, the testimony that we recapture day by day is the thing that saves us from the pitfalls of the adversary."*

I love that he says "the testimony that we recapture day by day". Recapture. That brings to mind such great images. And I think that we would take our spiritual quest much more seriously if we really truly felt that we had to work to re-capture our testimony day to day. I know for sure I'd be much more dedicated to daily tasks (like scripture study and sincere prayer) if I could just think of it this way. Recapture.

President Uchtdorf offers such great encouragement: "The Lord has blessed you with a testimony of the truth. You have felt His influence and witnessed His power. And if you continue to seek Him, He will continue to grant you sacred experiences. With these and other spiritual gifts, you will be able not only to change your own life for the better but also to bless your homes, wards or branches, communities, cities, states, and nations with your goodness."**

I think remembering the blessings and spiritual experiences we've had is one of the most vital and vibrant ways to keep our testimonies bright. Even when I feel distant from the Lord, remembering a time when I knew for certain that the Lord knew me and loved me, a time when I knew for certain that He was pleased with my efforts, or a time when I knew for certain that I was doing the right thing helps to spark the desire to feel and know that again. And when I make that effort, it always comes back. Somehow, the Lord is always always willing to reach out and bring us closer. "He will continue to grant you sacred experiences." And with that, we literally do have the power to change the world for good.
*Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee (2000), 43
** Ensign Jan 2010, 7


Personal Inventory

Everyone likes a good list, right? I do; undoubtedly. From Joe J. Christensen's (then president of the MTC) article "Toward Greater Spirituality,"* ten questions to take a sort of personal inventory and decide how best we can approach the task to increase our spirituality, or closeness to the Lord:

1. Do I read the scriptures daily? "Some of the most remarkable personal revelations have been directly related to individual study of the scriptures. For example, the vision of the degrees of glory recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 76 came to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon after the Prophet had been studying the translation of the fifth chapter of the Gospel of John. Joseph Smith's First Vision came after he had reflected on James 1:5 "again and again." And President Joseph F. Smith's vision of the redemption of the dead came as he pondered over questions related to 1 Peter 3:18-20 and 4:6." Not unimpressive.

2. Do I really pray and not just say prayers?

3. Is my fasting meaningful? "Do I do more than just get hungry?"

4. Do I go to bed early and get up early? Counsel from Elder Harold B. Lee to Marion G. Romney as a newly called Assistant to the Twelve: "Go to bed early and get up early. If you do that, your body and mind will become rested and then in the quiet of those early morning hours, you will receive more flashes of insight and inspiration than at any other time of the day."

5. Am I essentially a happy person? "We will not enjoy the Spirit with us as much as if we were of good cheer."

6. Do I work hard? "Laziness and spirituality do not go together... feeling follows action more often than it precedes it."

7. Am I more concerned about how rather than where I serve? "Thankful, humble service is the hallmark of Christianity."

8. Do I love everyone - even my enemies? "Spirituality cannot be cultivated in an atmosphere of contention, dissention, and disharmony."

9. Am I striving to "become one" with what I know I ideally should be? "If we are moving in the direction of achieving this oneness [with God], peace of mind and increased spirituality will be among our blessings. This process is at the heart of the reason we have come to this earth. it is at the center of the message we have to share with the world."

10. Do I share my testimony with others? "Our testimonies are not static; they increase or decrease in intensity, and sharing them with others gives us a spiritual boost."

*Ensign, June 1983


To Walk With God

The last month or so of my mission, I put together a packet of talks and Ensign articles "to be read/studied" soon after my return. Oddly enough, six years later (and despite good intentions), I've just now opened it up. The topics seem typical of the "recently returned missionary" type ranging from finding/being a worthy companion, getting an education, serving in the Church, magnifying our callings and roles and most frequently, continuing the quest of daily personal revelation and a closeness to the Lord.

One talk by Joe J. Christensen titled "Toward Greater Spirituality"* lists 10 things he does/we can do in terms of a personal inventory to achieve this goal (his list will follow in another post). But it's the why he addresses in the first portion that strikes me:

"Spirituality is the sine qua non (the "without which not"). It is not only the thoroughly genuine desire to live in harmony with the will of God at all times, as guided by the Spirit, but also the ability to surrender totally and willingly to this guidance - and thus to do that which the Spirit whispers. To be truly spiritual is to walk with God. It is the key to true happiness and success in our lives in all kinds of circustances."

Frankly, I'd like to walk with God. I'd like to feel His comfort and confidence and encouragement all day, every day. I'd like to find true happiness and success in all circumstances. So all of a sudden, this search - and thirst - for closer communion, for greater spirituality, sinks in and is meaningful. And it's obvious that it's not a place, but a journey, a becoming, and truly - a constant consuming quest.

*Ensign, June 1983


Good Intentions

When it comes to serving others, I think we all have the best of intentions. Of course we want to serve and love and help and reach out and uplift. But.

President Monson asked:* "How many times has your heart been touched as you have witnessed the need of another? How often have you intended to be the one to help?"

This cuts to the quick, doesn't it? I can immediately recall to mind more than a dozen very specific instances when I really, truly, sincerely intended to help. For example, I intended to reach out to our neighbors this Christmas. With the best of intentions, I made cookies, but I have yet to deliver them.

"How often has day-to-day living interfered and you've left it for others to help, feeling that 'oh, surely someone will take care of that need.' We become so caught up in the busyness of our lives... too often we spend most of our time taking care of things which do not really matter much at all in the grand scheme of things, neglecting those more important causes."

This is the week before the new year, a time for reflection and new resolve. Perhaps it would also be a good time to commit our intentions to action. I think I will deliver those cookies (even if I am late). The best of intentions, translated into real acts of goodwill, will undoutedly touch others, lift our own spirits and bring about much good.

"The needs of others are ever present, and each of us can do something to help someone."

Here's to making good intentions count.

*Ensign. November 2009, 84-85



A strong or eager desire; craving.

This craving and desire is the very essence of thirst in the spiritual sense - to not only want or seek, but to literally need and require nourishment for the soul.

The New Testament is rife with references to spiritual thirst:
Matt 5:6 - "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness."
John 4:14 - "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst."
John 6:35 - "He that believeth in me shall never thirst."
John 7:37 - "If any man thirst let him come unto me, and drink."

But I particularly love this verse in Psalms 63:1

"O God, thou art my God; early will I seek the: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is."

I can drink a lot of water. When I lived in Italy during the hottest months, I would regularly consume more than 8 litres of water a day. Not the recommend 8 glasses (64 oz). Eight litres. And still, it never seemed enough.

And as a missionary, that was also a time of great spiritual nourishment and I daily consumed a whopping lot of {spiritual} water. And still, it never seemed enough.

And yet, though I know I can consume a great deal, though I know my soul thirsts daily, I seem to push myself to the very edge of spiritual dehydration. I find my tongue swollen and parched. My prayers are stilted and dry, not the rich, nourishing communications I know I long for. My limbs lose strength, my muscles cramp and I find it hard to find the positive, to be grateful for blessings and the see the Lord's hand in my life when the pounding aches of daily life press so insistently.

Have you seen a parched plant react to a good watering? Even the smallest dribble gives life to the soul. Thank heavens for church on Sunday. But this is not enough; it'll never be enough. The promise is to come, drink and never thirst. Did you know that by the time you feel thirsty you're already dehydrated? The never thirst part requires constant drinking, imbibing, guzzling, gulping, absorbing and soaking up. Constant.