- One of the most remarkable events in the history of the world happened on the road to Damascus. You know well the story of Saul, a young man who had “made havock of the church, entering into every house … [committing the Saints] to prison.” Saul was so hostile that many members of the early Church fled Jerusalem in the hope of escaping his anger. Saul pursued them. But as he “came near Damascus … suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: “And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” This transformative moment changed Saul forever. Indeed, it changed the world.
- We know that manifestations such as this happen. In fact, we testify that a similar divine experience happened in 1820 to a boy named Joseph Smith. It is our clear and certain testimony that the heavens are open again and that God speaks to His prophets and apostles. God hears and answers the prayers of His children. Nevertheless, there are some who feel that unless they have an experience similar to Saul’s or Joseph Smith’s, they cannot believe. They stand at the waters of baptism but do not enter. They wait at the threshold of testimony but cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the truth. Instead of taking small steps of faith on the path of discipleship, they want some dramatic event to compel them to believe. They spend their days waiting on the road to Damascus.
Belief Comes One Step at a Time
President Uchtdorf discusses a couple examples of people that seem to be waiting on their road to Damacus. They believe they need an angel to manifest the truth of the gospel to them in order for them to believe. He shares that the testimony of all of us comes slowly and almost unnoticed.
- Those who diligently seek to learn of Christ eventually will come to know Him. They will personally receive a divine portrait of the Master, although it most often comes in the form of a puzzle—one piece at a time. Each individual piece may not be easily recognizable by itself; it may not be clear how it relates to the whole. Each piece helps us to see the big picture a little more clearly. Eventually, after enough pieces have been put together, we recognize the grand beauty of it all. Then, looking back on our experience, we see that the Savior had indeed come to be with us—not all at once but quietly, gently, almost unnoticed. This can be our experience if we move forward with faith and do not wait too long on the road to Damascus.
Hearken and Heed
He encourages us to reduce those things in our lives that block out the Spirit whispering to us. We need to adjust our lives to be more in tune with the Spirit so we can hear the promptings we are given.
- I testify to you that our Father in Heaven loves His children. He loves us. He loves you. To better hear His voice, it would be wise to turn down the volume control of the worldly noise in our lives. If we ignore or block out the promptings of the Spirit for whatever reason, they become less noticeable until we cannot hear them at all. Let us learn to hearken to the promptings of the Spirit and then be eager to heed them.
One way to gain an understanding of the Savior and His mission is found in serving others. We know that when we serve our fellow man, we are serving God.
- It has been my experience that some of the most powerful promptings we receive are not only for our own benefit but also for the benefit of others. If we are thinking only of ourselves, we may miss some of the most powerful spiritual experiences and profound revelations of our lives. Brothers and sisters, we each have a covenant responsibility to be sensitive to the needs of others and serve as the Savior did—to reach out, bless, and uplift those around us.
- Often, the answer to our prayer does not come while we’re on our knees but while we’re on our feet serving the Lord and serving those around us. Selfless acts of service and consecration refine our spirits, remove the scales from our spiritual eyes, and open the windows of heaven. By becoming the answer to someone’s prayer, we often find the answer to our own.
- There are times when the Lord reveals to us things that are intended only for us. Nevertheless, in many, many cases He entrusts a testimony of the truth to those who will share it with others. Some would rather pull a handcart across the prairie than bring up the subject of faith and religion to their friends and co-workers. They worry about how they might be perceived or how it might harm their relationship. It doesn’t need to be that way because we have a glad message to share, and we have a message of joy.
He speaks about Social Media and the use of these tools to share the gospel. He encourages us to put into effect, sharing the gospel with our friends through the things we are doing everyday.
- With so many social media resources and a multitude of more or less useful gadgets at our disposal, sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before. In fact, I am almost afraid that some listening have already sent text messages like “He’s been speaking for 10 minutes and still no aviation analogy!” My dear young friends, perhaps the Lord’s encouragement to “open [your] mouths” might today include “use your hands” to blog and text message the gospel to all the world! But please remember, all at the right time and at the right place.
We should never doubt that God can reach our friends and family and help us bring them the light of the gospel. He minds us that it doesn't take much to get someone to have a desire to learn more about the gospel.
- Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone’s life for eternity.
Our examples are the best tools for sharing the gospel. People notice how we act and want the light that we have in our lives.
- The most effective way to preach the gospel is through example. If we live according to our beliefs, people will notice. If the countenance of Jesus Christ shines in our lives,10 if we are joyful and at peace with the world, people will want to know why. One of the greatest sermons ever pronounced on missionary work is this simple thought attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.” Opportunities to do so are all around us. Do not miss them by waiting too long on the road to Damascus.
President Uchtdorf concludes with these words of encouragement.
- God loves you. He hears your prayers. He speaks to His children and offers comfort, peace, and understanding to those who seek Him and honor Him by walking in His way.
- Let us courageously move forward in faith, hope, and charity, and we will be blessed with the light we are all seeking upon the path of true discipleship.
We don't need Saul like experiences to know that our Savior loves us. We don't need Joseph Smith like revelation to know the truthfulness of the gospel. We need to be willing to serve others, share the gospel, and be an example of Christ to our friends and family and we will grow in our testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. I had a bishop tell me years ago that it doesn't matter how others around me act, my testimony is personal. If I will do what God has asked me to do, overtime, I will see the truthfulness of the gospel and have the strength to live it in my life. Those comments have been tested and I know they are true. If we will live the gospel and strive to follow the teachings of Christ, our testimony of the truthfulness of those teachings will come slowly, and unnoticed, until we can testify that we know that living the way the Savior has asked us to is the right way we should live our lives.