Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Robert D. Hales on gaining and growing in testimony

Elder Robert D. Hales (b. August 24, 1932) served as a Seventy from 1976 to 1985, when he was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
"People often ask me, 'How do you know?' 'How can you know that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ?' While there seems to be no exact formula by which each of us receives a testimony, there does seem to be a discernable pattern. Though prayer is important in gaining a testimony, we cannot merely ask in prayer for a testimony and expect it to be given immediately to us.
"Generally, testimony emerges over time and through life's experiences. We can compare testimony to the process of watching a photograph develop. Powerful impressions of the Spirit come like flashes of light on receptive photographic film. Like the chemicals needed to develop the picture, certain spiritual conditions and experiences are needed in our lives for our personal testimony to develop into a certain truth and knowledge. And like a photograph, a testimony, if not carefully preserved, will fade with time.
"Testimonies often come when there is willingness to serve where we are called. They come when a decision is made to strive to be obedient. Testimonies come during efforts to help, lift, and strengthen others. They come from prayer and from studying the scriptures and applying them in our lives. Whatever our circumstances, there seem to be moments in each of our lives when we can be given the knowledge that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ. There is no greater search in life that we can embark upon than the quest to gain a testimony of the truth."
- Robert D. Hales, "The Importance of Receiving a Personal Testimony," Ensign, November 1994, pp. 20-22
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Hales emphasizes the gradual process of gaining a testimony. Though the imagery of developing a photographic negative and making a print in a darkroom is starting to fade from our societal consciousness (and is likely completely unknown to most youth), perhaps many of us remember it just enough to understand the point he is making:

I appreciated the additional insight about the process of gaining, and "growing," a testimony, which happens more readily when these conditions exist:

  • Willingness to serve.
  • Commitment to obedience.
  • During efforts to serve and bless others.
  • Prayer and scripture study.
It's good to ponder what kinds of conditions we each are presenting in our lives to facilitate this development, and what changes might increase the growth.  The excerpt concludes by providing this important perspective:  "There is no greater search in life that we can embark upon than the quest to gain a testimony of the truth."

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