Sunday, December 1, 2013

A sincere question

About eight months into my mission I baptized a young man who had just turned eighteen. He was getting baptized against his parents wishes and had a few concerns. He was worried about maintaining a good report with his family and friends, he was worried about the logistical details of living a Mormon lifestyle with so little moral support and no cohesive Mormon community nearby, he was worried about his acceptance in the Church, but most of all he just wanted to make sure he was making the right choice. He wanted to know - really know - if the Mormon Church was THE ONE TRUE CHURCH.

This young man had been reading and praying for nearly a year. I don't recall if he had prayed specifically about whether the Book of Mormon was true or if they were more general prayers, but he seemed a little unsure about the whole "God will answer your prayers" thing. He had been praying but had yet to feel the promised assurance in response, so we asked him to pray specifically about being baptized telling him God would answer his prayer. That's when he asked me and my companion a question:

"Will God really answer me?"

Both my companion and I responded somewhat automatically but earnestly that he would, but our investigator insisted.

"Really? Are you sure?"

I felt I had received answers to a few prayers, but his questions made me nervous. They didn't make me nervous for him, they made me nervous because I felt like I was about to be exposed. I wanted to believe that God had blessed me with his Spirit in a handful of troubling moments of decision, but they were extremely difficult experiences to analyze. The "answers" I had felt were horribly ambiguous and had come to me when I was in a highly emotional state. I felt like I had had to guess my way through the answers I was given because they lacked the kind of clarity I had been promised. But I didn't want to tell him that. I wanted his experience with prayer to be the real deal. He could have the real experience of total clarity and I wasn't about to lower his expectations.

The next time we met he said he wanted to be baptized and he was shortly after his eighteenth birthday. He was the hope of the branch. He wanted to serve a mission when he came and visited me in my last area. About eight months after I returned home he wrote me a letter explaining how he had left Mormonism and returned to activity in his previous faith. He even served a brief mission in Brazil for that church.

As I look back on the experience I can't help but think of how young we were. What did either of us know about anything? The thought of the two of us finding the mysteries of the Universe in Mormonism pains me. Our sincerity and ignorance would have pained any thoughtful adult. Why did my investigator doubt that God would truly answer his prayers? Why did I doubt I should full disclose my experiences with answers to prayer? Did I even know for sure that God had answered me?

No comments:

Post a Comment