Every year I think, "wow, I need to remember Joseph Smith's birthday and celebrate it with my family." Then, I forget and it gets lost in the holiday bustle.
Today I remembered!
As a tribute to this great man, I want to share what I believe about Joseph Smith.
While I grew up in as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I believed in Joseph Smith, but it took several years for me to gain my own testimony of him and his divine mission. When I was 11, my family took a road trip and we visited many religious historical sites. One of these sites was the Sacred Grove in Palmyra, New York.
This is where Joseph Smith went as a 14 year old boy, to pray and ask which church he should join. In answer to his prayer, God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph and told him that the full gospel was not upon the earth. Joseph was subsequently called as a prophet, received the priesthood and authority to act in God's name, and restored the FULL gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth once again.
While visiting the grove was meaningful to me, while I worked as a missionary in Guatemala, I had an experience that cemented my testimony of Joseph Smith.
My companion and I had been working with an investigator named Elder. He was exploring 2 different churches along with ours at the time. He wanted to KNOW that Joseph was a prophet of God. While we'd shared our testimonies of Joseph Smith with him and read together, Elder was still struggling.
Prior to visiting Elder one particular day, we'd been studying Joseph Smith History. We read Joseph's account in JS-H 1: 24 "However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice speaking unto him, and all the world could not make him think or believe otherwise."
After reading this, we said a prayer, and we headed to Elder's house. We read this passage with him and asked if we could pray with him together to ask Heavenly Father if Joseph Smith really did see God the Father and Jesus Christ, and if he really was a prophet of God.
As we knelt together in a circle on Elder's porch, each one of us took a turn in prayer. As my companion prayed, I had the strongest spiritual confirmation I've ever received. I was infused with joy, happiness, peace, and the knowledge that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of God - how do you describe a spiritual manifestation in words? My eyes flew open to see if anyone else was experiencing what I felt and knew in my heart to be true. I KNEW from that moment that Joseph Smith truly was a prophet of God. I am so grateful for this confirmation and so grateful for Joseph Smith. He gave his life for what he believed.
I finish this post with one of my favorite quotes, "The world can use these words. I know this now. Every man gives his life for what he believes. Every woman gives her life for what she believes. Sometimes people believe in little or nothing, and yet they give their lives to that little or nothing. One life is all we have, and we live it as we believe in living it and then it's gone. But to surrender what you are and live without belief is more terrible than dying - even more terrible than dying young." Joan of Arc
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