Gaining a testimony by bearing it

We often think we must first gain a testimony before we can stand and bear it. Ironically, these two quotes teach us that standing to testify is an act of faith that prompts the Holy Ghost to witness to us the truthfulness of the gospel.

From Elder Packer:
Oh, if I could teach you this one principle. A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it! Somewhere in your quest for spiritual knowledge, there is that “leap of faith,” as the philosophers call it. It is the moment when you have gone to the edge of the light and stepped into the darkness to discover that the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two. “The spirit of man,” is as the scripture says, indeed “is the candle of the Lord.” (Prov. 20:27.)

It is one thing to receive a witness from what you have read or what another has said; and that is a necessary beginning. It is quite another to have the Spirit confirm to you in your bosom that what you have testified is true. Can you not see that it will be supplied as you share it? As you give that which you have, there is a replacement, with increase!

The prophet Ether “did prophecy great and marvelous things unto the people, which they did not believe, because they saw them not.

“And now, I, Moroni, … would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” (Ether 12:5–6.)

To speak out is the test of your faith.
Boyd K. Packer, “The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan 1983, 51, emphasis added.

From Elder Oaks:
Another way to seek a testimony seems astonishing when compared with the methods of obtaining other knowledge. We gain or strengthen a testimony by bearing it. Someone even suggested that some testimonies are better gained on the feet bearing them than on the knees praying for them.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Testimony,” April Conference, 2008, emphasis added.

A similar principle was taught by Joseph Fielding McConkie at a recent BYU devotional:

To enjoy the “constant companionship of the Holy Ghost” means, for instance, that, as you fill your assignments as a teacher in the Church (if you are prepared properly), you will be taught things from on high as you teach others.

Such an experience will require more of you than the kind of presentation in which you simply repeat or rearrange the thoughts of others. The fact that every member of the Church is given the gift of the Holy Ghost is the evidence that the Lord wants to reveal things to you and through you.

I have heard my father observe that he learned the gospel by listening to what he was directed to say when he preached the gospel. That experience should be universal among Latter-day Saints.
Joseph Fielding McConkie, “Finding Answers,” BYU Devotional, 12 December 2006, emphasis added.

Letting go in order to forgive

“Many years ago I was taught a lesson by a man I admired very much. He was as saintly a man as I have ever known. He was steady and serene, with a deep spiritual strength that many drew upon.

“He knew just how to minister to others who were suffering. On a number of occasions I was present when he gave blessings to those who were sick or otherwise afflicted.

“His life had been a life of service, both in the Church and in the community. …

“On one occasion when we were alone and the spirit was right, he gave me a lesson for my life from an experience in his. Although I thought I had known him, he told me things I would not have supposed. …

“He married a lovely young woman, and presently everything in his life was just right. He was well employed, with a bright future. They were deeply in love, and she was expecting their first child.

“The night the baby was to be born there were complications. The only doctor was somewhere in the countryside tending to the sick. They were not able to find him. After many hours of labor the condition of the mother-to-be became desperate.

“Finally the doctor arrived. He sensed the emergency, acted quickly, and soon had things in order. The baby was born and the crisis, it appeared, was over.

“Some days later the young mother died from the very infection that the doctor had been treating at the other home that night.

“My friend’s world was shattered. Everything was not right now; everything was all wrong. He had lost his wife, his sweetheart. He had no way to take care of a tiny baby and at once tend to his work.

“As the weeks wore on his grief festered. ‘That doctor should not be allowed to practice,’ he would say. ‘He brought that infection to my wife; if he had been careful she would be alive today.’ He thought of little else, and in his bitterness he became threatening.

“Then one night a knock came at his door. A little youngster said, simply, ‘Daddy wants you to come over. He wants to talk to you.’

“ ‘Daddy’ was the stake president. A grieving, heartbroken young man went to see his spiritual leader. This spiritual shepherd had been watching his flock and had something to say to him.

“The counsel from this wise servant was simply: ‘John, leave it alone. Nothing you do about it will bring her back. Anything you do will make it worse. John, leave it alone.’

“My friend told me then that this had been his trial, his Gethsemane.

“How could he leave it alone? Right was right! A terrible wrong had been committed, and somebody must pay for it.

“He struggled in agony to get hold of himself. It did not happen at once. Finally he determined that whatever else the issues were, he should be obedient. …

“He determined to follow the counsel of that wise spiritual leader. He would leave it alone.

“Then he told me, ‘I was an old man before I finally understood. It was not until I was an old man that I could finally see a poor country doctor—overworked, underpaid, run ragged from patient to patient, with little proper medicine, no hospital, few instruments. He struggled to save lives, and succeeded for the most part.

“ ‘He had come in a moment of crisis when two lives hung in the balance and had acted without delay.

“ ‘I was an old man,’ he repeated, ‘before finally I understood. I would have ruined my life,’ he said, ‘and the lives of others.’

“Many times he had thanked the Lord on his knees for a wise spiritual leader who counseled simply, ‘John, leave it alone.’

“And that is my counsel to you. If you have festering sores, a grudge, some bitterness, disappointment, or jealousy, get hold of yourself. You may not be able to control things out there with others, but you can control things here, inside of you.

“I say, therefore: John, leave it alone. Mary, leave it alone.”
Elder Boyd K. Packer, Conference Report, Oct. 1977, 90–91; or Ensign, Nov. 1977, 60

Take up [your] cross, and follow me

Why don’t you have crosses on your buildings of worship? Why aren’t your chapels built in the shape of a cross? Why don’t you encourage your people to wear and display crosses? What is the Church’s policy toward crosses?

From Matthew 16:24-25:

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

We in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in response to these questions, try to teach our people to carry their crosses rather than display or wear them. Over the centuries the cross has been recognized as a symbol of Christianity in the minds of millions. The Savior himself has given us the bread and water as emblems of his sacrifice and death.

My message to you this day is take up your cross. Take yourself the way you are and lift yourself in the direction of the better. Regardless of where you have been, what you have done, or what you haven’t done, trust God, believe on him, relate to him, worship him as you carry your cross with dignity and determination.

We save our lives by losing them for his sake. As you find yourself, you will find God. This is true. I declare that to you. It is his promise. Take up the real cross of Jesus Christ.

“Carry Your Cross,” Elder Marvin J. Ashton, BYU Devotional, 3 May 1987

What gave the early pioneers strength?

“It was not what they possessed that gave them strength but what they knew.”

On July 26, 1847, their third day in the valley (the second having been the Sabbath), Brigham Young, with members of the Twelve and some others, climbed a peak about one and a half miles from where I now stand. They thought it a good place to raise an ensign to the nations. Heber C. Kimball wore a yellow bandana. They tied it to Willard Richards’s walking stick and waved it aloft, an ensign to the nations. Brigham Young named it Ensign Peak.

Then they descended to their worn-out wagons, to the few things they had carried 2,000 miles, and to their travel-weary followers. It was not what they possessed that gave them strength but what they knew. They knew they were Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. They knew that the priesthood had been delivered to them by angelic messengers. They knew they had the commandments and the covenants to offer opportunity for the eternal salvation and exaltation for all mankind. They were sure that the inspiration of the Holy Ghost attended them.

Boyd K. Packer, “A Defense and a Refuge,” Ensign, Nov 2006, 85–88