The following describes religious and supernatural experiences that I have had.
Catholic Church (4 years): My church experience began at age eight when two Catholic nuns came to my house one Sunday and took my brother and me to church. I started attending Sunday school and sacrament meetings every Sunday. I left the Church and became agnostic when I could make my own decision about it, which occurred when I was confirmed a member of the church at age twelve.
Protestant Churches (1 year): I spent a year during my mid-twenties investigating Protestant churches. I read the Bible from cover-to-cover, went to a number of Protestant churches, and had groups visit my home to discuss their beliefs. My assessment of these churches was that they taught inconsistently with-respect-to the Bible and were not otherwise of significant value to me or to my family. Therefore, I did not join a church and counted the experience as a loss of my time.
LDS Church (couple of weeks): When I was in my late twenties, two missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints came by my house to visit and share a message. At the conclusion of their lessons, which lasted a couple of weeks or so, the missionaries challenged my wife and me to be baptized into the Church. We agreed to become members of the Church and were baptized.
My intellectual evidence is an acknowledgement of the harmony of the doctrine of the LDS Church with the Bible. “The Progression of Man” post contains information from the Bible about man’s progression through the plan of salvation. The only religious organization of which I am aware that faithfully teaches this Bible doctrine is the LDS Church.
There are those who focus on making an acknowledgement that Jesus is the Christ and then think that they are saved. In other words, they say that salvation occurs at a point in time. However, the Bible places the focus on salvation as being a process whereby the individual grows spiritually and becomes just like Jesus Christ through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. The following is an attempt to capture these differing ideas:
Salvation is not about finding Jesus Christ.
Salvation is about becoming like Jesus Christ.
My spiritual evidence comes from the witness of the Holy Spirit. The more significant experiences I have had include a radiation of love emanating from an LDS member’s home that pierced through my body, a vision in a temple of the Church, and a visitation while shopping in a grocery store. I provide these more significant experiences in the following section titled, “Supernatural Experiences”. These experiences certainly enter into my thought process about whether the Holy Spirit has interacted with me, but I consider these experiences, as wonderful as they were, to be unnecessary to my spiritual testimony.
My spiritual evidence is based on the feelings that I experience in association with Church members and/or of doing the work of the Lord. It comes from experiences obtained through various callings that I have had and of the witness that I receive when a member speaks at Sacrament meeting that what is being said is true. I feel at times as though the Spirit ravishes me with feelings of love. I am thankful for this interaction with the Spirit and desire it very much.
Given my intellectual and spiritual experience, I am inclined to believe that The Church of Jesus Christ is the true Church of Jesus Christ and that Jesus Christ is at its head.
I have had many spiritual experiences in connection with the LDS church. I only relate the most significant here. These experiences go beyond natural experience; they are supernatural.
I was in the Air Force stationed at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois serving as a technical instructor. My family lived in Champagne-Urbana, which is located south of Rantoul about 20 miles or so. I was in my mid-twenties at the time and was on my second enlistment. I was not a member of this church or of any church.
My then wife, Jeanie, and I had decided before going to Illinois that I would leave the Air Force at the end of my enlistment and go to college. Jeanie had attended three years of college, but had not graduated. She had been pursuing a degree in occupational therapy.
There was a nursing school in Champagne-Urbana and it made sense to us that in preparation for my leaving the Air Force and for Jeanie’s benefit in completing her education that she attend that school and obtain a nursing degree.
In order to make that possible I worked many jobs. For a brief period, I was actually working four jobs at the same time. I worked my full time job as an Air Force Technical Instructor; I had a job as an engineer at a radio station; I worked as an avionics technician at a small airport; and I worked as a gas station attendant.
During this time, I also enrolled in and completed a correspondence course in analytical geometry. I suppose it may seem that I am exaggerating. However, somehow all this was possible.
It was in this context that I had a significant experience.
I went to the grocery store one day. The store, from what I can remember, was on a par with what grocery stores are today. It was large and spacious with many isles of food. Being in the store was a comfortable experience. As I was walking in an especially spacious area where I had a good view of an isle and additional areas something happen to me.
I felt as though something moved over and through me. It did not happen all at once. There was an initial experience. I did a double take. What was that I thought? Then I became completely engulfed. I felt disconnected from the store, but I was clearly still in the store. The feeling of disconnection was so strong that I wondered if the others in the store could still see me. I looked to see if they noticed me, but the few people that I saw were busy about their business. It was strange to see them – it was as though there was an unseen divide between us.
The experience did not last long, but it did linger awhile. It was the most wonderful feeling that I have ever had. I thought that it was as though all of space and time had ordered itself in its most perfect fashion and that I was at the center of it. I had no time to understand what was happening. The euphoria that I was feeling was something that I did not want to go away. … But, it did. It left as quickly as it had come. It seemed to move away as though it were going somewhere. It was gone and I was back in the store.
I still remember this experience and I will always remember. I have tried to understand why it happened, but there is no understanding it. It just happened. I cannot point to anything that I had done to cause it. I cannot imagine that there was any reason why I deserved it. This has frustrated me, because I want for another experience like it to happen again, but I don’t know what to do so that it will.
I had been away from the Church for a few years. My work setting had just changed and I was in a new situation that was causing me significant stress. I felt the need for help and visited with a psychologist to see if he could help, but he turned out to be useless.
My home teachers found me and started coming by the house to see if they could provide assistance. One evening I felt the need so strong that I asked for their help. I spent a significant amount of time over the next few weeks with one of my home teachers. He was very helpful and I started attending Church again.
At Church my elders quorum president spent time with me. I was glad to be back. It was where I needed to be. However, a Protestant friend had all sorts of negative things to say about the Church. I began to worry that there was something wrong with the Church. It got to the point that I began experiencing a bit of fear of going to meet with Church members.
One evening, for reasons that I don’t remember, I needed to visit a member’s house. It was dark when I arrived, but there were street lights to light the area. This was in the Saint Louis suburbs area and it was a bit like being in the country. There were no sidewalks and the houses were on large plots of land and distanced a bit from each other.
I was apprehensive about visiting the member’s home because the words of my friend. I parked my car on the opposite side of the street from the member’s home and towards one end of its lot. This made it a bit of a walk to get to the home.
When I left the car and as I started to cross the street, I felt some sort of radiation pierce through my midsection. It felt like love. The radiation was a wonderful feeling and appeared to be emanating from the member’s home. As I moved closer to the home the feeling increased until at the door I felt completely engulfed in love. It was a wonderful experience, but when the door opened and I started to enter the home the effect left me and things returned to normal. I don’t remember anything about the visit itself.
My speculation is that I was being told that I should not worry about being with members of the Church. But I have no real way of knowing why the event occurred for sure. At any rate, I proceeded with my return to Church activity and ignored the words of my friend.
I was a software engineer working at Loral Defense Systems in Akron, Ohio. My wife, Pat, and I lived in Akron. I was in my late 40s.
I had many callings in the church at Akron. My first calling was Sunday School President. Other callings that came were Ward Clerk, Counselor in the Elder’s Quorum Presidency and Executive Secretary to the Bishopric. I did all that I could to fulfill my callings, but I remember that I never seemed to be able to keep up my end. The many blessings that I received always seemed to outweigh any sacrifice that I was making.
It was in this context that I had another significant experience. My ward made trips to the Toronto temple. It was not unusual to experience feelings of joy while there. But there was one visit that stands out in my mind. A couple in the ward were being married as proxies for a dead couple and there were a number of ward members in the sealing room. Everyone was dressed in white and the room was also very light. At the end of the ceremony, I stationed myself near the door, but out of the way of the members. I did this so that I could see each member as they left the room.
As I stood by the door, I became overwhelmed by a feeling of joy unlike anything that I have ever experienced before except at the grocery store. I felt so close to the people in the room that it seemed we were all connected in some way. The room seemed to increase in brightness. There appeared to be radiance from the members so that the edges of their persons were softened. For a brief time the world, at least in the room, became paradise. It was an experience that I am very thankful for and will never forget.
I believe that this was a reward from the Spirit for all the service that I had provided to the members. I knew each one very well and I loved each one very much. I had been serving them for some time and at this moment I was experiencing a bond with them via the Spirit that was extraordinary.
This experience has not left me with the frustration of the first experience because I feel that there is a connection between what I had been doing and the experience. The experience it seems to me was a reward for the service that I had provided to these church members through the opportunities that my callings had provided. If true, this means that, it is possible that I may yet have another such experience and I desire another such experience very much.
I am accustomed to going to sacrament meetings and feeling the presence of the Spirit and I am accustomed to attending other church meetings such as the ward mission correlation meetings that I participate in and feeling the presence of the Spirit. Being in association with this church is a wonderful experience and being in the presence of the Spirit has become familiar to me.
But what I am talking about is different from this. It is now the case that I will experience periods of such joy that I am brought to the brink of tears. This occurs outside of the context of this church. It is becoming commonplace for me to be alone and enter into a period of such wonderful joy that I am taken back by it and wonder why it is happening. It happens while I am working at my computer or while I am preparing to eat. It has actually happened at some times that have not seemed entirely appropriate.
I can only speculate that it is being caused by a number of activities that I have been involved in now for some time. I think that it is because of my association with the Church on a regular basis; because of my calling as ward missionary; because of the extensive personal scripture studies that I have been engaging in; and because of my home teacher and my home teaching companion. In short, I think it comes out my active relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church.