John Lynch, one of the bigwigs at the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) posted a blog post entitled “Why I still choose to believe”.
In the post, he notes the topics discussed at the recently concluded FAIR Conference. He then discusses beyond this all the evidences he’s seen over the 14 years he’s been involved with FAIR. He recognizes that not all issues have answers, and he shares some very poignant and difficult issues he’s had to deal with personally.
Knowing what he does and doesn’t know, his answer to the world is that he chooses to believe, and then the Lord invariably blesses him with a witness that he’s chosen correctly.
We find such concepts expressed frequently in the Book of Mormon. In Alma 32, the prophet teaches the poor who have been compelled to be humble that if they only have a desire to believe, the Lord can have the seed grow, and they can experience the growth of the seed.
Yet, the seed cannot grow until it is first planted and nourished. As with John, we are challenged to choose to believe first, and then the witness comes later. If we choose not to believe, we receive no witness from God.
In every instance in the Book of Mormon where people receive a spiritual experience that changes them, it invariably begins with the person choosing to believe. Lehi taught his family regarding his visions in 1 Nephi 1, whereupon Nephi chose to ask the Lord himself if it were true, desiring to believe. He received the answer after he asked. Later he prayed regarding Lehi’s Vision of the Tree of Life, stating he believed all the words of his father, and so the Holy Spirit showed him many great things.
Compare this to Laman and Lemuel, who Nephi found arguing about Lehi’s vision. When asked if they had “inquired of the Lord”, they responded that the Lord did not answer them. Why wouldn’t God answer them, when the scriptures teach that God will answer all of his children? The key is belief. Laman and Lemuel did not receive spiritual answers, because they did not truly believe that they could receive them! They neither planted the seed of faith in their hearts nor nourished the seed until receiving an answer.
For many of us who do believe, we have experienced marvelous things through the Spirit. Some have talked with angels, while others have spoken “with the tongue of angels” (2 Ne 32).
When the brothers Nephi and Lehi were imprisoned by the Lamanites, great miracles occurred. “Flaming fire” surrounded the prophets, but did not hurt them. The Lamanites found themselves in mists of darkness. The only thing that released them from the darkness was crying to the Lord for deliverance with faith. Once they prayed, believing God could rescue them, they found themselves delivered from the darkness and surrounded by the flaming fire and angels that taught them.
Like John Lynch and many other LDS, I do not share my greatest spiritual experiences. But we do have them that give us strength when the answers are not always there. Such experiences only come when we choose to believe.