I came across this scripture the other day…
“And as I spake concerning the convincing of the Jews, that Jesus is the very Christ, it must needs be that the Gentiles be convinced also that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God;
And that he manifesteth himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost; yea, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, working mighty miracles, signs, and wonders, among the children of men according to their faith.” – 2 Nephi 26:12-13
It stood out to me because I want to know Christ.
It may seem strange because I have a testimony of the gospel and have even been blogging about it for years. I have even recorded my testimony of the Savior (note: more than once). And I will say right now, that I do have a testimony that we have a Savior. I know this because I have felt His power in my life. I have read the Book of Mormon and the Bible, and I have felt peace when studying and praying about the scriptures. I know this because I have learned about Him in Church and at the temple, and have also felt the peace and confirmation that comes from such practices. I have felt His forgiveness, and have witnessed miracles in my life. I know that my Savior lives and that He loves me.
I feel like there is still so much more to know. I feel infantile in my testimony of the Savior, and not in a good-child-like-infantile way. But with a recognition that I can come to know Him more. That I can develop a better relationship with Him. That my prayers can be more heartfelt. That His presence could be felt stronger in my life. As I’ve had more witnesses of the Savior, of His love for me, of His role in my life as the Advocate and Redeemer, I’ve also seen how often I come up short. I get frustrated with myself that I give in to my weaknesses so much–instead of turning to Him for support. I feel like Nephi who said:
“O wretched [wo]man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.” – 2 Nephi 4:17-18
I can see that as my testimony in the Savior has matured, His expectations from me have also grown. As I’ve gained more knowledge, I have more power to do more good; and the Lord expects me to do it. I want to do it. And the thing is, I usually do. It’s not like I’m having struggles with the things that I’ve learned in the past.
The Lord is teaching me to be a better person – better than I was yesterday; last week; or last year. Now, I’m learning spiritual algebra, rather than spiritual arithmetic.
Sometimes, as I go through these periods of my life – where I feel distanced from the Savior, a flash of doubt runs through my mind. Do I even know Christ at all? Is this true? Am I crazy? What happened to my testimony? I think that this happens to all of us.
And, when I read the scripture in 2 Nephi: “He manifesteth Himself unto all those who believe in him, by the power of the Holy Ghost;…, I realized my answer.
I do know Christ
I do know the Savior, and I don’t need to doubt my testimony – even for a second. Even if I don’t feel as close to Him as I would like, it isn’t because I don’t have a testimony. On the contrary, I realize it is because my testimony is growing, and that the Holy Ghost is helping me to see how it can continue to grow. We can’t stay in the same place. I can make improvements to my life–improvements that I wasn’t ready to make last week, a year ago, or five years ago. I can follow the same pattern that I’ve followed in the past:
- I can believe in Christ – It is somewhat easy for me to do this now. I can base my belief on the witnesses I’ve had of him in the past. I don’t have to believe in someone completely foreign. I can keep believing in Christ: in His Atonement; in His love for me; in His desire that I come unto Him and know Him. I can keep expressing this belief in Christ through prayer, scripture study, temple attendance. I can also keep showing this belief in Christ by trusting Him when I go through times of personal refinement–that these times are to help me to get to know Him better.
- I can seek the Holy Ghost – The manifestations of the Savior come to us through the Power of the Holy Ghost. When I was baptized and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I received the gift of the Holy Ghost, which means I have access and companionship with the Holy Ghost and His power at all times (as long as I lived worthy of it). The Holy Ghost will help me to see what I need to do in order to change so I can have more of His spirit with me, which, in turn, will help me to feel closer to the Savior.
I kind of think that we all go through these kinds of tests in life. We receive witness of the Savior, then the Lord tests our witness. As our testimonies and faith is tested, it continues to grow. When we feel our connection to the Savior diminishing, and it isn’t because we have sinned or grown relaxed in the gospel, perhaps it might be because we are being taught new ways that we can change and grow. The Lord wants us to be even closer to Him, and this is done through “pruning” and “refinement”–both concepts that connote growth through a difficult (sometimes painful) process.
If we are going through these stages of refinement, we don’t need to doubt our past testimony. Instead, we need to be like Nephi, who was able to overcome his feeings of self-doubt by remembering his past experiences with the Savior. (See 2 Nephi 4:19-25.) We can draw strength from our past expressions of faith and testimony, and trust that as we seek the Spirit, then Christ will manifest Himself unto us.
Have you experienced times like these? What do you do to strengthen your relationship with the Savior? What have you done to receive a witness of Christ?
If you are still coming to know Christ, you can learn more about The Savior here.