One of my first life-changing experiences with receiving guidance from God and a clear answer to my prayers was when I was 21. I had been out of high school for a few years and was working a pretty unexciting janitorial job. I also hadn’t yet thought much about college. One thing I had decided for sure was that although I had grown up as a mostly active member of the LDS church and knew the restored gospel of Jesus Christ was true, I felt serving an LDS mission wasn’t for me. I had told my Dad this years earlier when I was 19, his response was loving and accepting as it always has been and there was no pressure or further discussion about it after that. It was a closed issue in my mind. I felt that I simply wasn’t the type of person that would go on a mission for 2 years to teach the gospel to people I didn’t know, in a place I’d never been to.
Soon I began to have a thought pop into my head, gently and infrequently at first, but it persisted. The thought came often while I was working my job at night, “you should go on a mission”. I describe it as a thought but it was more than that— the thought was associated with a feeling that my help and efforts were needed somewhere. It was a feeling pulling me toward something bigger than myself. Eventually this thought/feeling came to me every night, it’s an understatement to say that it was uncomfortable. I knew this wasn’t coming from me because serving a mission was the last thing I planned or wanted to do at that time. I was confused and started to pray about it many times, probably somewhat hesitantly asking God, are you sure this is what you want me to do or that I can even do it? At this point I had to know it was really his will for me, I felt that if these impressions were coming from God and he wanted me to be a missionary I knew I could succeed in spite of my own shortcomings. The answer came definitively, without question that it was right and I knew I had to do it, I made the decision that I would and then had a great feeling of peace about it and the confusion was gone. It may seem strange to some people but I know I was truly called by God to be a missionary and teach His gospel. In fact I don’t think anyone else could have convinced me to do it. As my mission progressed, God blessed me to be able to share the gospel with specific people that I was uniquely qualified to reach even though I was admittedly very weak in speaking and relatively inexperienced.
I’m still amazed at how God pulled me out of my ordinary, otherwise directionless life and into His work. It forever changed my life for the better, and few days go by that I don’t think about some experience or some thing I learned from it and the wonderful people I met. That experience helped build a major part of my testimony and there have been many other experiences that have strengthened and/or rebuilt it. But now more than ever I want to tell people about the Savior, the things I have learned about His love and the importance of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, so here is what I know:
I know that we have a father in heaven who loves us. We are created in his image, we are his children and our journey in this life is part of His plan to bring about our salvation and endless happiness. He hears our prayers. All of our lives are of great consequence and of great worth, and every soul is precious to him.
Because of God’s immense love for us, he sent his son Jesus Christ to be a sacrifice for our sins that we might through Him be cleansed and return to live with our Father. I know Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world. His atonement is big and far-reaching. He suffered in Gethsemane and on the cross to pay the price for our sins if we choose to follow him. He died and rose the third day so that we would all be resurrected. I know that he is the great healer and has the power to heal all of us from sin, sickness and despair.
I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints contains the power and authority to administer the ordinances of salvation. I know that President Thomas S. Monson is a living prophet today, chosen by God to lead His church.
God does not leave us comfortless. His Spirit is a witness of truth, and will speak peace to our hearts to confirm truth when we seek it. The Book of Mormon is evidence that God loves all of his children and that truth has been revealed in our day as it had been revealed in Bible times. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. It has been for me at times the voice of God helping me through difficult times. It has brought me close to Him and helped me feel His love, and enabled me to overcome struggles in my life that would have otherwise been devastating to me, but because of the reality of God and of his love, there is peace in my soul and my life is full of hope! I invite you to open your mind and your heart to the words of this book, it will transform your life for the better as it has mine.
I know that God answers sincere prayers of faith. I promise you this is true, just as the Book of Mormon offers that same promise. When he answers your prayers, trust him. Other influences in this world may try to disrupt and remove the peace you receive through the witness of his Spirit, but place your focus and your faith in the true and living God. His love, mercy and kindness doesn’t fail us.