I've had people--people that love me, people I don't even know, people I do know but who insist on online anonymity--make harsh judgements about who I am and the state of my heart. These are judgements that I once made about people who "left the faith", and so I understand where they're coming from. I had been taught apostasy came only from one root: pride. Pride that led to trusting in the arm of flesh, trusting in your own (or someone else's) wisdom. Pride that cherished and nurtured offense, and therefore separated people from the church community and the "saving ordinances" that were the only hope to get back to Father in Heaven. A simple formula, with a simple solution: get humble and get right with God (meaning that church) so you could be saved. Salvation comes only through the "only true church", and so disagreement with the mainstream was the primary indicator of spiritual peril.
Samuel the Lamanite
I've been called antichrist, compared to the lying, scheming practicers of priestcraft in the Book of Mormon, accused of amassing a following, of leading others astray, of losing my testimony and abandoning myself to the darkness of my own wisdom, warned I'm heading down a deceived path from which there is no return and that I'm taking my family with me, whose sin and blood will be upon my garments at the great and last day.
I look around me, and I see a life radically transformed.
I look within me, and I see a woman radically healed.
I look around me, and I see a life overflowing with loving community that I had never known before. Community that unleashes the power of heaven into lives that are far from the direct touch of God. Love that protects and guards so a true vulnerability before the throne of grace can be discovered by each heart, and the healing offered by the Lord Jesus Christ flow without restriction.
I look around me, and I see miracles happening. Physical healings that, before, I had only read about in scripture. Emotional healing that counseling says isn't possible. Mental healing that flies in the face of psychology and psychiatry, bringing broken souls into wholeness, utterly removing the need for psychotropic medications.
I look around me, and while I see plenty of hardship and heartache and all kinds of ways that I need to be further renewed and healed and empowered by the grace of God, I see faith operating in revolutionary, transformative power.
I look around me, and I see astonishing beauty worked as I follow the voice of God that I hear on a regular basis.
I look around me, and I see the fulfillment of dreams God has given me, and the gradual unfolding of others that He gave seemingly just so I could stand rejoicing with Him as His goodness and lovingkindness is brought to pass; just so He could share His plans with me, and I could experience alongside Him the joy He feels as He works them out before my eyes in wondrous, perfect, amazing ways I could never had imagined.
I look around me, and I see a home and family beginning to come out of the broken patterns of the past and walk in joy together through this life.
I look around me, and I see face after face God has touched through my prayers in a moment of need--my memory populated by eyes filled with wonder, glistening with the uprush of tears that comes when God shows up in their hearts and they taste the sweetness, the comfort, the hope, of His love.
I look around me, and I see the fulfillment of EVERY promise in scripture that I desperately longed for, but never received, no matter how hard I tried, no matter how "faithful" I was. Blessings pouring down from heaven in rich supply that I never dared hope for before.
The fruit is here. The power of God is here. I'm seeing it everywhere, and learning a little more each day how to let that be powerfully evident in every word, every deed, every interaction.
I have read the words of Jesus Christ, have taken His invitation to test them, to try them, to see if He will keep them. And I can say I KNOW the goodness of God. This is not a "knowing" that comes from logical syllogism based on other things I believe.
Jesus Christ spoke the truth. He IS the Truth. You can believe Him: what He said, what He did, what He promised. The words He spoke, giving us the key to knowing who truly believes Him, can be trusted today. His promises are sure. He is faithful.
I have never been taken through a more humbling, more deeply deconstructing process than I have over the last few years. I have never lost so much, nor gained so much. And while the things I have laid on the altar may seem idolatrous sacrifice to some, all I can do is respond with the words Jesus Christ gave us for moments like these:
“And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” ~Mark 16:17-18 (see also Mormon 9:24)
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.” ~John 14:12I am seeing these things fulfilled in my life, and the lives of those around me. I have new kidneys. Depression is banished. God has used my hands to heal injuries, headaches, and more. And I'm not expecting you to take my word for it. This is my testimony. I only hope my testimony works in your life to do what testimony should do: provide you a chance to approach God and say:
And whosoever shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him will I confirm all my words, even unto the ends of the earth. ~Mormon 9:25I look around me, and within me, and I see the words of Jesus Christ confirmed. You can, too.
And who shall say that Jesus Christ did not do many mighty miracles? And there were many mighty miracles wrought by the hands of the apostles. And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles. And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust. ~Mormon 9:18-20