Sunday, October 10, 2010

Full of Light

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. (Matt. 6: 22)

I knew I had to go to Church today. I've actually been hungering to go all week. I've known that Church was where I needed to be today.

The sister giving the opening prayer quite unexpectedly started to weep, as she prayed for those in the Church who are struggling or in pain. I wept through the prayer, and a good part of the Sacrament Meeting. But the Spirit was present there unlike any presence I've ever felt. It was like the chapel was just filled with the most pure, white light, and this incredible clarity and warmth. I half expected Christ to appear above the podium. Tears were streaming down my cheeks during the passing of the sacrament, but I felt so incredibly calm and happy. And the Spirit said to me very clearly and unequivocally, You are a part of my Church.

Never have I had such a powerful experience at Church of being totally enveloped in God's loving embrace. I kept looking around me, trying to see if other members were feeling what I was feeling, to see if they were aware that there was something very, very special happening. There were some incredible testimonies born, but they were nothing compared with the almost electric presence I felt.

The Spirit bore witness to me of so many incredible things this morning, but the most powerful witness was just that Christ has set us free from the sin, darkness, and despair that reign in this world. Another powerful witness came to me as I simply let myself be immersed in the sheer gratitude and joy I felt about that, and it was that this is Christ's Church. This is the only Church that acts with Christ's full authority and has a true and complete understanding of his doctrine. And so many of the things that I stress and worry about, I needed to just set aside so I can partake fully in the blessings that having his Church here on earth can offer us. I was so incredibly grateful to be there, so glad that I hadn't let anything hinder me from coming, so glad that I had paid attention to that urgent sense that I had deep down inside that Church was the place where I needed to be this morning.

It almost killed me not to be able to stand up and bear my testimony. I so wanted to just get up and bear witness of what I was feeling, what I was experiencing right then and right there, to ask the others if they realized how lucky they were, how blessed!

The entire morning, a portion of that presence lingered, in Sunday School and Priesthood. When the meetings ended, I didn't want to leave. But I had to hurry home because I had to get our Aunt Dottie (visiting this past week from Memphis) back to the airport.

I have been thinking about this experience all day since, wondering about its significance. And the scripture that comes closest to making sense of it to me is this one about our eye and our body. There was a lot I had to let go of to go to Church this morning, a lot I needed to let go to even begin to approach God there.

The pain we feel, the sadness, the craziness purifies us. It helps us to define ourselves by forcing us to choose what is most important to us. And if we can find it in ourselves to turn to the light, we can be filled with it.

We become what we see.


JonJon said...

I'm so glad you had such a beautiful experience today.

Sean said...

John, you continue to give me strength and brighten my weakened testimony. Especially, when i find so little comfort from attendance.

I know that i can turn to you and find that you are pointing towards Our Savior and i realized that I am not lost.

Bravone said...

I needed that tonight John. Thanks my brother.

MidKnight543 said...

This is the only Church that acts with Christ's full authority and has a true and complete understanding of his doctrine.

It is statements like this that you presented today that shut the door to others. I feel very strongly about my church and my faith and yet I am very careful to express these opions as that, my opinion of the church that I believe in.

Your statements are very close to the statements of the LDS Prophet where he states his opinion of life style choices as the only true meaning.

As of today, I will no longer be following your blog.

Peace and love, Kevin

J G-W said...

Kevin - I'm sorry my statement has upset you. These are long-standing convictions of mine, that I've stated occasionally elsewhere in my blog.

For what it's worth, it does not upset me if you believe -- as do most mainstream Protestant and Catholic Christians -- that the Book of Mormon is not true scripture or that Joseph Smith was not a prophet. Nor does it particularly upset me that Jews and Muslims don't believe Jesus was the son of God. Nor does it upset me that Hindus and Buddhists and Atheists don't believe in the Bible.

I would never presume to tell you (or anyone) which strong convictions you are entitled to express -- either here on my blog, or anywhere else.

However, if my belief in my Church disturbs and angers you, go in peace... I'm not angry, though a bit saddened.

Anonymous said...

Your quiet wishes to bear your own testimony causes me to feel ashamed for all of those meetings that I haven't stood to bear mine. Next time, in honor of you, I'll do it.

J G-W said...

marriedtoamoho: Thanks! I wish I could be there to hear it!