As a newly baptized member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I had a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel. I had felt the Holy Ghost s in the gospel lasted for about five months.
What happened? How could one so fully converted be so easily swayed from the truth?
“The sower soweth the word.
And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.
And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.
And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,
And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.
And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.” (Mark 4:14-20)
I was like the seed that was sown amongst the thorns. I had received the word and it had taken root, but the cares of the world choked the truth out of me. I actually went to my Bishop and asked that he strike my name from the records of the Church; he would not. Nevertheless, I left the Church in my heart. I can honestly say that what followed over the next four or five months were the worst challenges of my life, and that’s saying something. I was lost, alone; the world that I had sacrificed much for, turned it’s back on me. I was filled with guilt, shame, and a desperate need to be loved, to be happy, but there was none of that for me. Satan cares naught for our wellbeing once he has us firmly in his grasp, he only cares that we suffer.
Thankfully, the missionaries did not give up on me, and they continued to teach me the gospel. At first I was unrepentant and uninterested in their efforts. But eventually something one of them said got through to me and I left the door to my heart open just a crack. I began to see where my path had taken it’s turn and how I might get back to the good path, the one that would lead me to happiness and joy. It was a long and arduous journey, much harder the second time around – after having received the fullness of the gospel – than it had been when I was being converted from ignorance to truth. This time I had committed my sins with full knowledge of Heavenly Father’s plan for me, so the price of repentance was high. Still I persisted and soon my membership in the Church and the gospel’s place in my heart was restored. No longer did I “droop in sin” (2Ne 4:28) but my heart was uplifted and my happiness renewed.
Through this difficult ordeal I learned that it is not enough to accept the gospel as truth, but full conversion is required. What does it mean to be fully converted? President Marion G. Romney explained:
“Converted means to turn from one belief or course of action to another. Conversion is a spiritual and moral change. Converted implies not merely mental acceptance of Jesus and his teachings but also a motivating faith in him and his gospel. A faith which works a transformation, an actual change in one’s understanding of life’s meaning and in his allegiance to God in interest, in thought, and in conduct. In one who is really wholly converted, desire for things contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died. And substituted therefore is a love of God, with a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments.” ((in Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 24)
I learned that it is not enough to be ‘converted to the gospel’ as is often said about converts to the Church, but you must also be converted in your heart and in your mind. Your “desire for things contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ [must] actually [die].”
Though the path to true conversion can be a rocky one fraught with turmoil and strife, I testify that it is a path worth walking. The glorious valley of happiness and peace awaits you and it’s reward far outweighs any difficulty encountered along the way. Come and be converted to the Lord Jesus Christ. Write His name in your hearts and forsake sin, and you will find happiness and joy in His Light.