Today all of Utah and Wasatch Counties as part of Stake Conference watched a broadcast with addresses by Church leaders including Elder Clayton, Sister Stevens, Elder Scott, and Elder Nelson. I really enjoyed the conference, and enjoyed Elder Clayton’s remarks in particular.
Elder Clayton began with a story from a recent trip to Texas. On a lake, he saw tall trees that had sunk their roots deep into the water. Amidst the trees were also weeds that were withering and wilting due to a drought. They had completely failed to sink their roots into the water.
Elder Clayton urged all of us to become deeply rooted in the Gospel. Our roots need to be deep enough to overcome any challenge, endure any affliction and withstand any challenge to our faith. Indeed, Elder Clayton emphasized the importance of have a through enough conversion to withstand even subtle enemies of our faith.
Elder Clayton also emphasized that being ridiculed by non believers has always been the lot of believers. In our modern day where messages critical of the Gospel can go viral in an instant, we especially need to be vigilant and prepared. Elder Clayton explained that criticism of the Church is like a mirage which can be alluring to those who have not become rock solid in their faith. Yet, those who listen to the seductive voices of dissidents, will miss the grandeur and scope of the restored gospel and ultimately will pay a heavy price in the breaking of covenants and the loss of eternal blessings.
As I listened to Elder Clayton’s talk, I thought about my testimony and my conversion pre mission. I had a miraculous and powerful conversion experience, and so I felt that my testimony was firm and secure. I received an unmistakable answer to my prayers. I knew without a doubt that the Church was true. Yet, despite all of that, looking back now I realize how fragile my testimony truly was. I didn’t really have a testimony that the leaders of the Church were inspired. I believed that my views on political and social issues were far more enlightened than the Church’s position.
On my mission, I don’t think there was a particular moment or experience that changed my views. In the MTC and even months into my mission I still was uncomfortable with some of the things the Church taught on gay marriage and the family. Yet, as I left all of that behind and labored with all of my heart. As I did so, my roots become more deeply grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ. As I labored, the spirit transformed my heart and reinforced my faith. I am deeply indebted to my father in heaven for my mission and the mighty change of heart that I experienced.
Elder Clayton offered some very valuable advice to those seeking to deepen conversion. Specifically, for those with doubts he urged us to spend more time reading the scriptures and far less time dwelling on the words of dissidents in blogs. He urged us to not look for flaws, but instead to study the doctrines of the Gospel. We also need to accompany faithful study with a devoted righteous living. We need to maintain a temple recommend, and continue to build upon the rock of the savior. If we do these things, Elder Clayton promised that we would be able to develop an unshakeable faith in the savior that would withstand all of the challenges of life.
I second Elder Clayton’s testimony. I know that as we continue to develop faith in Christ and serve him, our doubts will melt away with time. Our doubts will be replaced by a firm foundation of faith. I have been deeply blessed as a result of this miraculous change of heart.