Sunday, March 15, 2009

How Do You Feel It?

I have a reader with whom I have been communicating via comments on a post from the past. She recently ordered a Book of Mormon and has begun reading it. I hope she grows to love this book as much as I do and that it can give her all the blessings it has given to me. 

Let me quote her last comment: "I have started to read the Book of Mormon. I am really enjoying the sense of comfort and realization that it is beginning to give me. I pray every time before I start to read it, and also when I decide to put the bookmark in and pick up again later. I pray that I will be told and lead to the truth. Nothing has happened yet, but I'm praying and hoping that something will happen soon."

I want to respond to her here in a post because it is easier to type than a comment and I thought others may be interested in hearing or adding to my response by sharing their own testimony of how they felt that led them to believe the Book of Mormon.

So this is to my Anon friend and anyone else reading the Book of Mormon and wanting to know if it is true or be led to truth.

I am so happy you have started reading this wonderful book. For me to hear you are reading it is like when you have a very favorite book or treat or person and someone to whom you have recommended that thing goes to try it out. You are so excited for them to love it like you do. You know?

I am glad you are praying before and after reading it. That will certainly help you in your quest for truth. I wanted to give you some references on what you should be expecting to "happen" as you read and pray. One of my references will come from the Bible. One will come from the Book of Mormon itself. And one will come from my own experience.

First from the Book of Mormon: I will quote from the book of Alma (it is in the middle of the Book) chapter 32 verses 26 to the end of the Chapter. Here a prophet in the Ancient Americas is teaching a group of humble people. This chapter stuck out to me particularly for you because you initially wrote about wanting to find a desire to learn and build on that desire.

This chapter explains through a parable what should happen in your heart when you encounter Truth. 

26 Now, as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.
  27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more thanadesire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.
  28 Now, we will compare the word unto a aseed. Now, if ye give place, that a bseed may be planted in your cheart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your dunbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to eenlighten my funderstanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
  29 Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge.
  30 But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow.
  31 And now, behold, are ye sure that this is a good seed? I say unto you, Yea; for every seed bringeth forth unto its own alikeness.
  32 Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away.
  33 And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good.
  34 And now, behold, is your aknowledge bperfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your cfaith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your dmind doth begin to expand.
  35 O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is alight; and whatsoever is light, is bgood, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect?
  36 Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good.
  37 And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit.
  38 But if ye aneglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.
  39 Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your aground is bbarren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof.
  40 And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the atree of life.
  41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with apatience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree bspringing up unto everlasting life.
  42 And because of your adiligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the bfruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.
  43 Then, my brethren, ye shall areap the brewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth cfruit unto you.

So as you read the Book of Mormon you are planting and nourishing that seed of faith. You should feel it grow and swell feelings of the Spirit in your heart. To better understand what those "feelings" of the Spirit are let us turn to the Bible: In Galatians 5:22 we read "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith." 

It is these feelings that you should have when you encounter Truth. Peace is something that is a tale tale sign of the Spirit. I think when you feel the peace of the Spirit it can be subtle but it is a signature sign of the Spirit and Truth. 

Lastly, I will share my own experience. I have shared this before but it is always worth repeating. For me, I had read the Book of Mormon and loved the stories. But I was waiting for something to "happen" too. I was waiting for some great big revelation. I wasn't sure what but something. I prayed for a year waiting for this.

Then one day I was in a testimony meeting (a meeting where people stand and share their feelings about the Book of Mormon, God, Jesus Christ, Prophets, or a number of other gospel subjects) and people were up sharing their feelings. As I sat there wishing I had something "happen" that would let me KNOW the Truth, I suddenly realized that my heart was burning. I say realized because it wasn't that it started to burn. It was that I became aware that it had been burning for some time and I was just now realizing it. 

By burning I mean it felt warm. Like it was growing and radiating heat and love. I realized that the Lord had been telling me all along. I had felt the peace and known the Truth all along. Something had been "happening" in my heart the whole time but it wasn't until that moment that I realized it.

This realization brought me such incredible joy. I really cannot describe it. I stood and bore my own witness that was being given me right then. I grabbed something to write with and write on and wrote down my feelings telling myself NEVER to deny this truth I now KNEW. I was a aware that God knew I got the message and I would not ever deny it. 

Many different people feel the Spirit and recognize it in slightly different ways. But peace is pretty universal I think. It is an inner peace. I like to liken it to how you feel when you tell someone something that is true. There is no hesitation or feeling of unrest in your soul. Now think of when you tell someone something that is a lie. There is a reason lie detectors work. You body feels it is lying. 

The same feeling of peace or unrest comes to me as I learn things. This is especially true for me when I speak a truth or write it.

I would invite others to share how they felt when they came to a knowledge that the Book of Mormon is true. And to my "Anon" friend I say keep up the good work. I have faith that you will find the Truth you seek. I will keep praying for you in your efforts.