17 years ago, when I was 28 years old, I was in the temple just absolutely filled with gratitude for all that Heavenly Father blesses us with when I received a very clear prompting from the Spirit to keep the commandments more fully. I did not agree to make that commitment at that time because it seemed too difficult. What happened next, I could only understand after many days of pondering about the stark contrast between the overwhelming joy I was feeling and the dark sense of emptiness that came as a result of offending the Spirit. As soon as I realized that the loss of the Spirit had been the consequence of my own lack of faith, I immediately promised the Lord that if He ever saw fit to extend another similar invitation to me that I would immediately accept it and work to fulfill it regardless of how difficult it may seem. 6 months later, the next invitation finally came.
All my life I had read and been taught the doctrine of Christ from the Book of Mormon. As a missionary, I even testified for two years to the people in Greece that the Book of Mormon was a true source for coming to know the Lord. However, I only ever used the words “It is true” or “I believe” it is true. I never even once said the words “I know.” I didn’t say “I know” because I didn’t know for sure for myself. That’s not to say that I wasn’t convinced it was true. After my own analysis of the evidence available to me it seemed much more probable that it was true rather than made up. Even so, I felt like I lacked the witness from the power of the Holy Ghost as was described by Moroni.
After six months of repentance and begging, the Lord finally extended a new invitation to me. Through His Spirit I was invited to say the words “I know” when sharing my testimony about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. I could have easily made an argument about why I wasn’t quite ready to do that yet, but I didn’t. The lesson learned from my previous mistake was still fresh in my mind. So, I accepted the invitation fully, even though I didn’t feel up to it, and was determined to figure out how to accomplish it as soon as possible. Two weeks later was fast Sunday and I decided I was going to take that opportunity to fulfill my promise. As soon as the members were invited to take the stand I went up. As I stood at the pulpit, I hesitated. My own weaknesses flooded my mind. Who was I to make such a solemn declaration so publicly? I got through my doubts by just beginning to talk. I showed the Lord my willingness and He gave me the strength to carry on. And then I said it, “I know the Book of Mormon is true!”
As the words came out of my mouth the Spirit bore witness to my soul that it was true, just like Moroni said it would happen. In that very instant, the myriad of blessings that come as a result of taking upon yourself the name of Christ were all seemingly made available to me. That witness gave me the power to keep the commandments more fully. From then on, I counted myself among those people who are held deeply accountable for this great knowledge.
The first time I said the words, “I know” was the first time I comprehended that I had somehow always known. I’m 45 now and I still guard the words, “I know” very carefully. To this day there are so precious few things I am 100% certain of. But this much I can say–I know the Book of Mormon is true.