Sunday, July 06, 2008

How I Know that There Is a God

Last week, I engaged in a dialogue on Prof. Osler's blog with a woman whom I know only as "Tydwbleach," Tyd for short. After Prof. Osler posted a brief reflection about God, Tyd commented that although she had tried, she simply couldn't believe in God. She noted that at the time when she was most open to believing in God, when her mother was dying, He didn't seem to come to her.

Prof. Osler then asked his other readers if they had ever felt like Tyd. Some of the responses were heartwrenching.

So I've decided to write a series of three essays which I hope Tyd and those who commented on Prof. Osler's blog will read. Today, I will share how I believe---indeed, how I know---that there is a God and His Son is Jesus Christ. Next Sunday, I will share how you can know the same for yourselves. And, finally, the following Sunday, I will share my feelings and thoughts about why even though God loves us bad things, and in some cases horrible things, happen to us.

How I Know that There Is a God

There has never been a time in my life that I didn't believe in God. Among my greatest blessings it the fact that both my parents are devout Christians and that from the cradle they taught me about God, the Eternal Father, and His Son Jesus Christ. Mom used to sing me to sleep with children's hymns. And my bedtime stories came from the scriptures. My favorite stories were "Daniel and the Lion's Den" and "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego and the Fiery Furnace."

But as a child, I didn't act like someone who had been taught about God. I was mean and grumpy all the time. I used to scream at my Mom and Dad that I hated them. I threatened to run away at least every day. I strangled my younger brother whenever he made me mad. I used foul language, which prompted my mom to give me doses of tabasco sauce and cayenne pepper. (By the way, I ate tabasco and cayenne pepper so much that now I love spicy food).

I drove my parents crazy.

They wanted to help me, but nothing seemed to work until they bought me a copy of The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. I loved to read, and so I started reading it. And I started changing.

Now I didn't turn into an angelic child, far from it, and I am still far from perfect. But over time, I became less grumpy and mean all the time (even though these are two things I still struggle with); I stopped telling people that I hated them; I stopped threatening to run away; I stopped strangling my little brother, and I didn't have to eat tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper as often.

For those of you who haven't read The Book of Mormon, it teaches about the ancient inhabitants of the American continent. They left the old world, crossed the ocean, and settled in the Americas by the power and gift of God. Here, they worshipped God and His Son, Jesus Christ. And after Jesus' death and resurrection in Palestine, He appeared to those who lived on the American continent. The Book of Mormon is a second witness of the Divinity of Jesus Christ and proves that the Bible is truly the word of God.

I continue to read The Book of Mormon and the Bible and other scriptures every day. And I feel the same influence changing me and helping me become a better person.

I know that God lives because He has changed my heart as I learn about Him and Jesus Christ through The Book of Mormon and the other Scriptures.

I have also had other experiences which confirmed to me that there is a God. For example, while I served as a missionary in Ecuador, things were hard. Few were willing to listen to what I had to share. People would lie to me all the time about where they lived. Others would tell us to come to their home on a certain day and then would not be there, or would not come to the door when we came. I was called a child of Satan.

Yet I remember one afternoon when my missionary companion and I came in for lunch after a particularly discouraging morning. I went to the bedroom, fell on my knees at the foot of the bed, and said, "Heavenly Father." No sooner had I done so, than I felt the words, "I am here. . . . How I love you. How I love you. How I love you." I say felt because I didn't hear a voice. But those words entered my mind and were accompanied by a feeling of peace and love independent of my mind and emotions. Perhaps you're feeling a "burning" in your bosom or a peace as you read about this experience. If you are, those feelings are from God. He is telling you that He is there and that He loves you.

During my mission, I had several other experiences like that day, but they were often preceded by great difficulty.

Today, I continue to pray to God. And I frequently feel that He hears me and that He loves me. I feel it now as I write this to you.

The stars in the heavens and the beauty of nature testify to me that there is a God. Indeed, I see "God moving in His majesty and power" as I watch them. (D&C 88:47).

And being a husband and father have let me experience the most powerful love imaginable. After my family and I moved to Waco for law school, I was stressed. During the first quarter, I almost quit. But one day, my wife and daughter were in the computer room playing a game. Leaning against the door frame and looking at my family, I felt as if God wrapped His arm around me and said, "Life's good, isn't it?"
I could go on and on listing experiences that have shown me that there is a God. And I can tell you that as sure as I know the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, I know that there is a loving God. He is our Heavenly Father. And His Son is Jesus Christ.

And I testify that all of us can know that there is a God.


mistyp said...

Thanks for your great example to us! We love you and are so grateful to have a husband/daddy named YOU!!!! :)

Prof. Osler said...

I am enjoying this series. I have given a lot of thought to that dialogue with Tyd, too...