How My Life Changed

How My Life Changed

As long as I can remember I have always searched for God. I have never just believed in the possibility of a God. I knew that he existed. I knew that he had to be a person and not some vague, undefined spirit. But I had trouble trying to imagine what he looked like. My impression was of a stately old gentleman, with white curly hair and a beard, a friendly face and sparkling blue eyes. He lived among the stars, which, as a child, I assumed were the lights in his living room.

Based on the devotional cards I received from my local minister, I had an understanding of what His son, Jesus Christ, looked like. The Savior was depicted as a handsome man with wavy brown hair, and big, bright eyes. He was shown pointing with a slim, pierced hand to the cruel wound in his side, inflicted by a cowardly Roman guard. Through his white robe could be seen the red glow of his loving heart.

But how did I make contact with God and the Savior? I recognized that the way I lived was not the best introduction to them. I did almost everything the Lord had specifically prohibited.

The years passed and I married a wonderful woman, and we had responsive and loving children. We were richly blessed in the material things of life and in good health. But more and more I felt bitter self-reproach because of the sinful life I had led and because I showed the Lord so little thankfulness.

One night I couldn’t stand the feeling any more. I went to a secluded place and poured my heart out to the Lord. I pleaded for forgiveness and for guidance to know which path to take. My problem was that I knew which path to take, but I didn’t have the strength to completely walk that path.

I had tried walking the path now and then. For example, I had read the Bible, prayed in my own way, investigated several religious organizations, and had often listened to a group of gospel workers who used to preach on the street corner.

The leader of the group, a sincere person, had advised me to come to Jesus and believe in Him. “That’s all you have to do” he had said. “His blood will save you and will cleanse you from all your sins.”

That seemed too easy to me. I felt that I couldn’t come before the Lord stained with sin. First, I had to be completely clean and then not sin any more. And that was what was hard for me because I didn’t know how to do it.

However, after that prayer I tried very hard to become “friends” with God. For instance, after reading about tithing in Malachi 3:8–10 [Mal. 3:8–10], I started paying a tenth of my income to non-profit charitable organizations.

I tried to bring about a change in my behavior. I tried to be honest and not tell a lie. I tried to stop swearing and using bad language. And some unusual occurrences made me start living a more healthy life. When I was having a drink, the alcohol suddenly tasted like muddy water. When I drank coffee I felt sick. Tea gave me indigestion. My addiction to smoking a pipe ended when I had a vivid dream of a dirty brown substance going through my pipe into my mouth and throat.

Following these occurrences, I happened to be looking through a private library when I came across the Book of Mormon. Out of curiosity I began to read it, and I was very excited. Unfortunately I wasn’t a member of the library and couldn’t take the book home.

But that was not to be my only contact with the book. Fourteen days later, I met two young men with American accents. One of them asked if I believed in Jesus Christ. I said no, because I didn’t believe, I knew that He existed. He took a book from his briefcase and asked me if I wanted to read it. Much to my surprise it was the Book of Mormon!

I took the book home where I was forced to rest in bed because of a sudden attack of influenza. I used the time to read the Book of Mormon. When I got to 2 Nephi chapters 31 and 32 [2 Ne. 31–32] I found what I had been searching for for so long. There I learned of repentance and baptism as the gate to the strait and narrow path, of keeping the commandments, and of the Holy Ghost as a companion to help us. As I read those chapters I knew the Book of Mormon was true. I knew that if it was the last thing I did in my life I had to be baptized. But, I thought, what if the influenza killed me before I could be baptized? If I had to, I decided, I would ask the young men to baptize me at home in my bathtub.

Frantically I looked for the address of the missionaries, but couldn’t find it. The only thing I knew was that the Church had a small building somewhere in the neighborhood.

My good health quickly returned, and on a beautiful spring morning two Elders were astonished when I approached them with a Book of Mormon in my hand urging them to baptize me as soon as possible. In an interview, they discovered that I already met all the conditions of faith, repentance, paying tithing, and keeping the Word of Wisdom.

So on 18 May 1977, I was baptized and became a member of Christ’s true church. In August of that year, despite some initial doubts, my wife was baptized.

My conversion and baptism was not a matter of chance. I know for sure that the Lord led me to His church. And I know that the Book of Mormon was the capstone of my conversion. Reading it led me to the strait and narrow path which I gladly walk.

[illustration] Illustrated by Paul Mann