I'll admit that I'm very hesitant to share this experience with people. As often enough such experiences can be ridiculed, and torn apart. The Lord counciled us "Do not throw your pearls before swine." I feel however that I can share this story with you, as you are all either worthy members, or open minded individuals who do not mock the spiritual experiences of others. This story is so personal, such a changing and private experience that I hold it in the same regard as my Patriarchal Blessing. It is the story of my conversion:
For years of my early-middle adolesence I had begun to harbour doubts about validity of the church and in religion in general. I had always being naturally inclined and adept in the humanities at school, with having an almost photo-graphic impecable memory with regards to history and english, and was able to make insights and observations into historical, philosophical, or linguistic ideas. I found subjects such as physics and math interesting not because of themselves, but because of the philosophical and eteranl perspectives gained from them.
It was in this setting that I began to lose my faith, I began to see events or ideas completely independent of God, not because in complete accordance with him. I began flirting and accepting atheism, buddhism, agnosticism, and Nietzchism. I began to hold an existentialist view, and still do, albeit a theistic one that I hold to be in full agreement with divine law. At the same time I began to regard laws and morals as reletavistic and without supreme absoluteism. With this essentially 'freedom' to do whatever with my life I began to delve into things such as pornography, masturbation, and other vices. I etertained feelings for the opposite sex, and still do occaisionally, though I have realized that this in itself is not sinful, but etertaining and acting on them is.
I'll admit that an atheistic life (And I'm not bashing you Elaphaba!) is, unless occupied with something, a miserable one. I began to wonder if the faith I had grown up with was not true, and I began to investigate both it and in Christianity in general. I began reading books on Christianity and Mormonism extensively, and read some of the gospels not included in the standard works of mainstream Christianity, such as the Gospel of Judas and some parts of the apocrypha. In addition I studied the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the standard works of the Prophets.
I began to pray again, with extreme doubt I might add, and meditate on the scriptures. I spoke with my bishop, and told him everything, including the fact that I still at this point felt no regret towards my sin. I began to progress, and hang out with other members in my ward. I began to drop foul language, at first for myself, as I came to the realization that foul language does nothing but dilude my vocabulary, and encouraged my friends to do the same.
This is when it happened:
One night, while kneeling in prayer I felt it was time to ask the big questions. I began to pray about the truthfulness of God's restored church, of the atonement of Jesus Christ. It was in the midst of this prayer that the most awful, terrible, miserable, and destroying feeling came over me. Mere words cannot describe the utter terror, fear and self loathing I felt. I felt, heard, and could almost see the dark presence in my room. A presence who's only purpose was to drag me down in the very pits of hell, to make me hate myself, others, and perpetuate misery to the world. It was that very destroyer of souls, the father of lies, not the son of Perdition, but Perdition himself. How did I know I just knew.....
To quote the testimony of a cerebal palsied man in the stake, who's physical handicaps are outwayed and outdone by his spiritual insight "You don't know why you think a flower is beautiful...you just know it is. The same can be said of the spirit, you can't prove it, you don't know why you know it's true...you just know it is."
Imagine that...but flipped over...demented, and mocked. This was that simple testimony, but employed for usage by Lucifer. I don't know why I knew it was him....I just knew. It was pure, undefiled evil, if there was ever a bigger oxymoron than that I don't know what it is.
I began to open my mouth, to pray harder for delieverance from this thing...this feeling...this presence when I found myself unable to speak. My lips moved, air passed between them and my tounge acted in accordance with my brain....but words never passed through my mouth. It was as though my very ability to communicate verbally had been cut off by evil incarnate.
And yet, as in all things the Son of the Morning underestimated the children of God. Though he had temporarily cut off my verbal communication with Heavenly Father, he had not cut of the more important, eternal, spiritual and heartfelt communication. Inside I prayed for help, for deliverance, for redemption, and it was near the breaking point when suddenly the world came to a standstill.
In an instant the evil was gone, not merely driven out, but purged, cleansed and replaced by an all-redeeming, all-encompassing, all-knowing, and all-loving fire. Not just a warmth, but a burning, all consuming flame of charity and compassion. It had the essence of meekness, unconditional acceptance combined with utter contempt, wrath and eternal damnation against the evil that had been present moments before. It was though the spirit had become both Lamb and Lion, a perfect combination of Justice and Mercy. The Greek for love most often used in conjunction with the Saviour is 'Agape'. It is love, mercy, compassion and...everything....it is God. That is how I felt. I felt the power of priesthood, the power of authority, and most importantly the power of atonement with me, wrapped around me as though they were the arms of the Holy One of Israel himself guarding me. I began to melt before it's presence, collapsed in a puddle of tears, tears of joy, thankfulness, unworthiness, and above all...love. I felt the presence of ancestors, of the voice that commanded prophets and nations, the one that set in place the plan of creation, a voice as loud as crashing waves, and rolling thunder and as meek as the warm breeze present in a summer meadow. It immediately confirmed all the questions I had been asking, and pushed away all major doubts, the ones pertaining to salvation, the one that asked "Is the atonement real?"
Brothers and Sisters....this experience was and continues to be real. It is eternaly true, and I cannot deny it. To do so would be to deny myself and all I believe.
Though I still harbour doubts about some things, though I still have an affinity for philosophical ideas, and alternate ideas (my last English essay was a heretical-speculative-atheist/Nietzchean paper that I'll admit I loved so much I keep it bellow my bed) I know this above all: There is a God in Heaven, prepared to share all with me. He has a son, who came down and became like man, was rejected of them, and redeemed them, so that we may go back up and become like him. There is a Holy Spirit who's presence in my life is as the very presence of the Father and Son, though they are seperate of him. There is a prophet on earth, who stands boldy and as terrible as an army with banners. And I know that my Redeemer Lives, and the I am a son of God, and that Satan has no glory that I should follow him.
Tags: Conversion ChildofGod Love