Sunday, December 6, 2015

Rick's Testimony

It Starts Simple
It has always been difficult for me to pinpoint exactly when I received a testimony of the gospel…it just always seemed to be there.  I loved my parents…I wanted to be like them…they believed…so I believed…pretty simple.  It wasn’t until I was older that I realized the blessing of this gift…the gift of “knowing.”

For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to very man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.

To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.

To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. (Doctrine & Covenants 46:11-13)

Where’s My Gun?
My earliest memory confirming my faith in God and Jesus Christ takes me back to when I was a young boy.  I probably was not more than 4 or 5 years old and had lost a toy gun that I was desperately looking for.  My friends were waiting to play outside, and I couldn’t find my toy gun.  After searching all over the house, I was completely at a loss.  I found myself in my parents’ bedroom.  I knelt down at their bedside and said I’m sure as simple of a prayer that one at that age could muster.  I opened my eyes, looked over at my parents dresser, and there just underneath the dresser was the toy gun.  It was clearly out of sight from anyone walking by.  But when kneeling down, was clear as day.  From that day forward, I realized that many answers to life’s problems would be answered from my knees.

I Don’t Fear Thunderstorms
As a pre-teen and teenager, life wasn’t too complicated.  I went to school, studied and played.  My testimony never seemed tested.  Sure, I had challenges.  But they were pretty simple challenges, and never regarding things that were spiritual.  I never questioned going to church, attending seminary, or accepting different priesthood responsibilities.  It probably wasn’t until I approached my mission that the weight of things spiritual began to set on my mind.  It wasn’t so much my questioning the church or questioning anything of a spiritual nature, it was questioning how prepared was I to share those things with others.

After graduating from high school, I began to realize how real a mission was.  I was 18 years old and knew that within 12 months I would be leaving home for 2 years.  I decided that time away from home would be helpful in that preparation.  I didn’t have the opportunity to leave home for school, so I found a summer job a couple of hours away from home just outside of Prescott, Arizona.  This was a summer camp for children, many of whom were troubled kids.  The summer camp was actually a school, run as a private school during the school year, but during the summer it brought children in from all over the world.  Along with more seasoned camp counselors, junior counselors were brought in to help.  That was me…a junior counselor.  It paid room and board…no money.  This worked fine for me.  It helped me prepare myself to be away from home, but also provided me a place where I could train for my upcoming freshman year at Glendale Community College before I left on my mission.

It was my goal to finish the Book of Mormon that summer while away at the summer camp.  I had a number of different responsibilities as a junior camp counselor.  I coached the swim team, taught archery, and accompanied various counselors on regular horseback rides.  While meeting my different responsibilities as a counselor, I also worked diligently to keep up on my Book of Mormon reading.  On one particular evening, I was assigned to stand watch over the boy’s cabin area while the boys and girls were at a dance.  It was late in the evening, and I was alone in the camp sitting outside on one of the porches with my scriptures out.  It was a warm summer evening.  The darkness was almost overwhelming.  I was reading in 3 Nephi Chapter 8 by flashlight.  My surroundings fit perfectly with the events unfolding in the scriptures.  I read Nephi’s words:

3“And the people began to look with great earnestness for the sign which had been given by the prophet Samuel, the Lamanite, yea, for the time that there should be darkness for the space of three days over the face of the land.”

5“And it came to pass in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such as one as never had been known in all the land.”

As I looked up from my reading, the darkness was broken with periodic flashes from a storm off to the east.  It was a quiet thunderstorm…an incredible lightning show off in the distance.  I wondered if that night for Nephi began something like what I was seeing.  As I watched the storm in the distance, I continued to read the rest of 3 Nephi Chapters 8 and 9.  After an incredible storm and tempest, Nephi relates in Chapter 9 Verse 14 that “…if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life.”  It was then and there, through the power of the Holy Ghost, that I was reminded that Jesus Christ was the Savior of the world, but more importantly, my Savior.  At that moment, I understood the message that I would take on my mission, to invite others to come unto Christ.  From that day on, I haven’t feared thunderstorms as they are a reminder to me of the comforting love of a Savior.

It’s The Little Things
I haven’t seen a vision or heard the Saviors voice.  I suppose that the Lord knows that I don’t need that to know Him.  I may not have been blessed with many spiritual gifts, but I have been blessed with at least one, “…to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.”  That gift is given by the power of the Holy Ghost, and one I cannot deny.  Maintaining that gift comes from the little things that I’ve seen, experienced, and felt.  The examples of parents that have lived the gospel and who have endured to the end have strengthened my testimony.  Having a family at my side, a wife and children to encourage me to choose those things which are good have strengthened my testimony.  Having grandchildren that love me have strengthened my testimony.  And finally, through opportunities of service, and having felt the Holy Ghost testify to me that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that through him we can return to live with our Heavenly Father have strengthened my testimony.  Of all the gifts, the gift of “knowing” is the gift I cherish the most.

Rick Smith

December 6, 2015

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