“There All Along,” New Era, June 1987, 28
I dropped the phone onto the wall cradle and slumped dejectedly into an easy chair. I looked up at the ceiling.
The phone call had come as a complete surprise. I tried to recall the last time that I had been assigned to give any kind of a talk in church. A missionary farewell was to be held in our ward next week, and our first counselor wanted to know if I would be willing to speak in church. It would have been very difficult to say no, but the topic I was assigned certainly tempted me to do so.
Testimonies had never been an easy thing for me to discuss, and recently, it had become even more difficult. Not too long ago, I had decided to re-read the Book of Mormon. When I came to the end, I decided that finally I would test Moroni’s promise. After much prayer, I had received no miraculous witness, no flash of light, and now the bishopric wanted me to speak in front of the ward on the subject of testimonies. I felt that I could hardly attempt to teach others how to gain and strengthen a testimony when I could hardly gain one myself.
The remainder of the week, I went through the motions of preparing a talk on testimonies. I looked up several stories and scriptures to use as examples, and I reviewed several other Church books on the subject. By Sunday, I had a talk prepared, but I felt far from ready to give it.
I paid little attention to the bright, clear weather of that morning as I walked the few blocks to church. I kept thinking that despite my research, I wasn’t prepared for this talk. In fact, I felt that I didn’t have the right to tell my fellow ward members how to gain a testimony when I didn’t have one myself. Somehow, I managed to drag myself up the stairs and into a seat behind the podium. I had trouble looking at the bishop when he shook my hand.
After church finally let out and the agony was over, I left for home as soon as I could. I was still thinking of the talk that I had given. I had talked too fast. Because of my nervousness, I had squeezed a full five-minute talk into about 30 seconds. I could still see the desperate look on the missionary’s face when he saw how much time he would have to use up.
I threw open the front door and went straight to my room. I dropped my scriptures on the desk, flopped down on the bed, and loosened my tie. Then I removed my note cards from my jacket pocket so that I could review them one more time before I shredded and trashed them for good. During my review I re-read one scripture in particular that I had used in my talk. Doctrine and Covenants 76:78–79 talks about bodies terrestrial: “they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus; wherefore, they obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God.” [D&C 76:78–79]
At this point I decided to take a good look at the scriptures. For some reason, I opened to Alma, chapter 18, verse 35 [Alma 18:35]. Here I found this scripture: “And a portion of that Spirit dwelleth in me, which giveth me knowledge, and also power according to my faith and desires which are in God.”
It was a small scripture, not one that is often quoted. In fact, it didn’t even deal directly with testimonies. But it made sense to me. This short scripture pointed me in the direction I had to search for my testimony—inside of me! The gift of the Spirit, which gives us knowledge, was inside of me!
I began to recollect the times that I had read the Book of Mormon in the past. The main question on my mind had never been, “Is this true?” Instead, I had wondered how to apply a certain bit of knowledge to everyday life. I recalled discussions with friends about Church doctrine. I remembered the good feeling I got from helping others.
Slowly, I began to realize that I had within myself a testimony that had been growing for some time. That one little scripture had helped me to realize my real strength. I felt like running to the bishop and asking if I could give my talk over. I had found my testimony. It had been hidden there all along. I still have the note cards from that talk, and written on the front is the Alma scripture reference.