So often we smile at the little kids going to the front of the congregation at church on Sunday to "bear their testimony." But what is a testimony, really? Is it just spoken words, rattled off in memorized fashion? Phrases that become trite?
I would hope not. According to Dictionary.com, a testimony is a "declaration of a witness under oath or affirmation." Dictionary.com also defines a testimony as an "open declaration or profession, as of faith."
I would hope that testimonies shared at church have not devolved into trite, rattled-off phrases. Why? Because it is precisely when our faith is being most challenged by trial that our testimony of truth may be the only thing to see us through.
Today in Relief Society, our teacher painted a vivid picture of the height of the Red Sea that the Israelites fled through, escaping Pharoah and his army. According to the institute manual she quoted, that Red Sea was on average over 2000 feet deep!
Thus, when we read that the water as it parted created walls--imagine those walls being at least 2000 feet high! What an immensity of "witness" to the Lord's power to redeem his people.
Yet, that is the ENDING of the story. Those 2 million plus Israelites trapped on the border of the Red Sea prior to the parting of that sea did not yet know the end of their story. They only saw the 20,000+ chariots galloping toward them, each holding on average 3 soldiers. A massive sight, I'm sure.
The power to part the Red Sea came from God himself. It is in Him that we trust. He it is that we must get to know if we are to bear "testimony" of him.
So is a testimony more than "rattled-off" words spoken from the pulpit (not to judge anyone, but just something to think about as a personal assessment). A testimony is an abiding faith that God is who He says He is and that He keeps His promises. A testimony is an abiding faith in the truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and in the callings of the prophets brought forth in this dispensation.
If we don't have a testimony, what then? Well, that's an easy part. We begin by getting to know the Lord. How do we do this? In my mind, two ways.
When we read the scriptures, we get to know the Lord and His thoughts/views on things. And once having read them, we get to try them out. Just as when shoe shopping, we try on the shoes, we also have the opportunity to "try on the gospel." It is in doing the Lord's will that we will discover for ourselves who He is and what He is about. And in that process, we gain a "testimony", a knowledge so sure that we truly could (as Dictionary.com stated) stand in court and bear our witness under oath as to what we know. A testimony for me is a living entity. And it is fed by reading from the scriptures daily and savoring the sweet spirit of peace that comes as we do.
How can we expect to get to know the Lord if we refuse to do what Christ did while here on the earth. He was about His Father's business. We must follow in His footsteps if we hope to become like Him. I think you would agree -- true service brings a spirit of peace and insight and wisdom like unto nothing else on this earth. Yes, to gain a testimony of the Lord's goodness and His church and gospel, we need to serve. As we serve, we will learn. As we learn, our testimony of these truths will grow.
I'm sure there are many other important components to the makeup of testimony (i.e. prayer, missionary working, "witnessing"), but these two mentioned above--that of Scripture Study and Service -- will do much to get you on the road to a true testimony and knowledge of God's goodness, the gospel and the eternal saving principles contained in Christ's church.
Until next week,
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