Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Testimony of Christ

In October 2007 I was visited by Jesus Christ. I'm not speaking in figurative or literary terms. This was real, as real as it gets. First I'll try to describe it. Then I will write about the implications.

I generally get up early in the morning to pray, usually some time between six and six-thirty A.M., so I can be alone, and so I will have plenty of time. Sometimes my prayers are short and sometimes they are long -- depending on what is going on in my life. I find a place in the house where I can be alone, where my praying won't disturb other members of the family, and where other members of the family won't disturb me.

On this particular morning, I'd gone downstairs around six A.M. and knelt next to a chair in our living room and began to pour out my heart to God. No sooner had I begun to do so, when I was aware of a presence. The awareness came to me the way a cloud moves away and the rays of the sun suddenly shine down on you. I was aware of an intense light, unlike any earthly light, and a warmth that completely enveloped me inside and out. My eyes were closed, though I was also conscious that a person was present right in front of me, just above the chair I was kneeling in front of. I knew I had not encountered this person ever before -- not in this life anyway -- and I simultaneously knew who it was. I began weeping uncontrollably.

At the moment I had knelt down to pray, I was suffering from a flu or a very bad cold -- headache, sore throat, aches and pains, nausea, feverishness. As soon as I was aware of the Christ standing before me, I felt the sickness literally flee from my body, it was gone and it did not come back. I was filled with the most incredible sense of physical well being, healthier and physically happier than I have ever felt in my life. If I had words to describe it, I would say it was like what I will feel in the resurrection, when my spirit is eternally united with a perfect body.

I actually didn't dare to open my eyes or look up at first. I just wept with sheer gratitude. But eventually Christ invited me to look up into his face, so I did, and saw the most serene, beautiful, loving face I have ever seen. He was dressed in a plain, white robe, with one bare shoulder, and had flowing shoulder-length hair and a beard. He had an expression of perfect kindness and love.

He told me my sins were forgiven me, and then he showed me the earth. He told me that the entire destiny of the earth, from its inception to its end, is completely in his hands, that armies of angels are awaiting a single word from him to bring the entire work of this world to completion. He told me that there is literally nothing in all the worlds that is beyond his power or that I need fear.

I wanted to know what work he had for me, and he told me simply to be patient, to continue in prayer and faith and obedience, and that I would know it when the time came.

So then I just knelt there, enveloped in the most complete, the most pure, the most loving radiance, tears streaming continuously down my face. I know it was a finite amount of time, though I wasn't conscious of time. I wanted to remain there, in that moment, forever. But eventually it passed and I was left to myself again.

I was left with the most incredible feeling of physical, emotional, and spiritual well being. It was then I was aware how completely gone my cold/flu was. I wondered if it would eventually come back, but it didn't.

After Christ had left me, I was aware of the Spirit's presence. The Spirit had been there before, during and after. The Spirit told me I needed to share this experience with my husband Göran and also with my parents. I wasn't completely sure how to do that at first, but eventually I did.

I told Göran first, a couple days later. It was hard for me, as I wasn't sure if he would disbelieve me or patronize me or get scared and think I was mentally unstable. Fortunately, he did none of the above. He just listened quietly, and then he gave me a hug and told me he loved me and believed me.

It took my quite a bit longer to tell my parents. I finally talked to them about the experience about a year ago. I had been waiting for the perfect moment to talk to them about it in person, but that perfect moment never came, and finally I got a bit of a talking to from the Spirit, reminding me that I was supposed to do this. So I found a private room at work that same morning and called them and told them what had happened. The Spirit was there, bearing witness to me and to them about the truth of what had happened to me. Literally my bosom was burning within me. My parents and I wept together over the phone and expressed gratitude to God and gratitude for each other. And then I pretty much locked that experience up in my heart and have kept it to myself until now. I'm sharing it now, because the Spirit has clearly told me that it is time for me to bear witness of what I know.

First, I know that Christ is real and he lives. Words are terribly clumsy, inadequate instruments to describe the truth of it. I have tried to put it to words, and here's the best I can put it. When I was in Christ's presence, he was more real than the physical world you and I live and breathe and move in. He was more substantial and more true than the entire physical universe that we can touch and measure through science and look at through telescopes. Which is why, when Christ told me that all things were in his hands, under his ultimate control, I immediately knew the truth of it. I knew that nothing in this universe could withstand him because he is more than all of it. And it would be easier for me to insist that nothing of what I know is real, than to believe that he is not. But the world exists and is real, and so is he. He exists and he lives -- he is alive! -- in the most objectively real, tangible, true sense I can possibly convey. Again, please understand that I am not speaking in metaphor or poetry here, though poetry might capture the truth of it better than what I can say prosaically.

Second, I'm not afraid of anything in this world. Kill this body, but you can't kill anything of me that is real.

Third, he chose to reveal himself to me, some gay guy that most decent Christian folks wouldn't give the time of day for being the grossest kind of sinner. I'm not better than anyone else. I'm riddled with sin and imperfection. My husband and my foster son -- the two human beings who know me best -- will, I'm sure, gladly furnish testimony regarding all my weaknesses and failings. I have to wrestle and struggle, and occasionally pick myself up out of the dirt, and keep walking, just like everyone else. Yet, I know my sins are forgiven me so long as I give my heart to Christ, and listen to him, and obey him. And I have no need to fear -- for me or my family, for the present or the future, for this life or the life to come.

Fourth, there is a path we all need to enter, there is a way we need to walk, each of us individually, as families, as members of communities and as a whole human family. It is a path that was defined by Christ. He walked it in the flesh before us, and we need to follow. He is alive and is leading us and guiding us in that path even now. It is a way of peace, of love, of faith, of patience, and of hope. It is the way of Heaven that we have to somehow bring to earth, so that we can receive him when he comes again. (And he will.)

Fifth, I know the Church is true. That's where the authority to act in God's name resides. The path of our salvation, individually and collectively, lies in the Church. It is also in my communion and community with the people already all around me in my life, my family, my friends and neighbors, my co-workers, everyone I will meet from this day till the day I die and am received into Christ's eternal bosom. It is in forming a "more perfect union" with them, in building and creating Zion today, right here and right now, in this world. There is much work to do.

I'm bearing this testimony here publicly for the first time, though this won't be the last time. I think I had to live this testimony for a while longer first, before I could be ready to speak it in public. But now the Spirit constrains me to speak it, so speak it I will from now on, in private and in public, to all who will listen, committing my life and everything I have and am to Christ's kingdom.

The testimony isn't what I have written here. The testimony is me.


Anonymous said...

Usually I sit at my computer and read blogs while my two youngest boys fight around and with me, climb on my lap while tapping the keys of the keyboard, and I intermittently break from what I am doing to stop the fighting, put them in time out, snap at them for wrecking my page- what have you.
While reading this post, I was filled with a tremendous peace and light. The boys still did their thing, and one is balancing on my legs as I write this- but it is wonderful, and I'm glad they are right here in my space.
Thank you for your courage in sharing this tender and remarkable experience.

Anonymous said...

Did He invite you to feel the prints of the nails in His hands and feet?

J G-W said...

marriedtoamoho - Thanks for that image of you with your kids. Sharing this testimony has left me feeling very grounded, peaceful and happy as well. Thank you for receiving it.

Anonymous - I didn't leave out any significant details.

Quiet Song said...

Thank you John, it took courage to share this. When you know, you really know. And, isn't it blessing that we don't have to be perfect for our Savior to love us and give us what we need to go forward towards our eternal home?

J G-W said...

Quiet Song - It took some prayer to find the courage to click "publish." But having done it, I understand why it was important to do. No, we don't have to be perfect. But you summed it up: He gives us what we need to go forward. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this. In a way, it seems too personal a thing to even comment on, so I'll just leave it at thank you for sharing the blessing of your testimony.

Reuben said...

John, you are a wonderful testimony to me of the greatness of the gospel. Thank you for sharing this.

J G-W said...

EL - thank you.

Reuben - I can't tell you how much the love and support I have always felt from you and Mel means to me.

Alan said...

Some years ago I had an experience that, while not quite so dramatic as to details, was still similar in many ways. I have spoken of it to only one other person. It changed me permanently. It's in large part due to that experience that I can fuss and fume and wrestle with the temporal LDS church administration while at the same time feeling totally grounded, centered, and confident in my faith in and knowledge of in the Savior.

J G-W said...

Alan - Yes, I too have found that in light of this experience, many things that once deeply upset and bothered me simply don't any more. It's not that I'm unconcerned about ignorance or injustice, it's just that I have a larger, more hopeful perspective. I see what I need to do -- what my part is -- in the task of moving forward toward Zion, and I'm willing to do my part.

My prayer, really, is that all of us who have been scattered and lost will seek God and find that peace...