Instant Messages

By Janessa Cloward


Through the Storm

I watched through the window as lightning flashes illuminated the valley below me. I had to drive home soon, but as the storm raged outside, driving was the last thing I wanted to do.

Finally I left, knowing that the weather would not improve and that I needed to get home. The short walk from my friend’s door to my car left my clothes and hair dripping. Lightning was still flashing several times a minute, and thunder droned ominously in the background.

I began the familiar drive home. A few moments later, I realized I had missed the road to the main highway. I was alone in unfamiliar territory, with only the glare of my headlights to light the way.

I reached for my cell phone, only to find its battery had died. Thunder boomed so loudly my car actually shook, and a bolt of lightning struck the hilltop to my right. Then I noticed a set of headlights coming straight at me.

I swerved back into my lane seconds before the other car zoomed past. My entire body was shaking, and tears poured down my cheeks as heavily as the rain poured down my windshield. I just wanted to be home, but I had no idea how to get there.

Without thinking about it, I started to sing the words from one of my favorite Primary songs: “Heavenly Father, are you really there?” My shaking and tears subsided, even though the storm did not. I prayed to find a familiar road and to be protected as I drove. I started to sing again, and as I sang, I knew the Lord would lead me home.

What was normally a 20-minute drive took 45 minutes that night, but I made it. When I locked my door behind me, safe at last, I sank to my knees. The shaking was back, and I sobbed a prayer of gratitude. I might have been driving in dangerous weather on an isolated road, but I hadn’t been alone.

I Believe in Christ

There are two main experiences that led to my testimony of Christ. The first happened the day my big brother died. He passed away on a Scout outing in eastern Arizona. I was 14 years old. When my parents and I found out, we were heartbroken.

At first, it was hard to imagine that I would be living the rest of my life without my big brother. But I was wrong. From the moment I heard of his death, I felt peace. I was at peace because Christ was there to mourn with me when I mourned and comfort me when I needed comfort. Never for one minute did I feel alone.

More than a year later, I participated in the Mesa Temple Easter Pageant. It depicts Christ’s life on the earth and plays six nights during the week of Easter. The best part was that it took place on the temple grounds. I was just one of the crowd in a cast of 300. For several weeks, I was able to spend hours near a house of the Lord.

As I watched Christ’s life portrayed to thousands of people, I was able to witness a representation of His birth. I was feet away when He was shown healing the sick and raising the dead. I watched when He was portrayed suffering and atoning for the sins of the world, and I was there when He was depicted dying on the cross for all. I was there and saw the portrayal of Him rising from the dead three days later, and I saw the representation of Him ascending to His Father.

The feelings I had at that time are indescribable. It seemed so real to me. I was able to testify of Christ’s message many times to those who had never heard it—that He lives!

I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Because of Him I can be with my brother again. Because of Him, I can be with Heavenly Father. This message is what will save the world in the last days. If we have faith in Him, we can receive blessings beyond measure. If we follow Him, we can become like Him.

I Am Loved

My sophomore year of high school was really hard for me. I was struggling—I needed to know that someone loved me. We were studying the Book of Mormon in seminary that year. One day, I had to give a devotional thought, and I decided to give one on love. To make a point, I replaced some words in verses 10 and 12 in 1 Nephi 8, which talk about the tree of life and its fruit, but I paid no particular attention to the words I wrote.

The day of my devotional came, and I didn’t want to go to seminary. I had had a really bad morning, and all I wanted to do was feel sorry for myself and stay home. I went anyway and prepared for my devotional. When the time came, I read what I had written:

“And it came to pass that I beheld [God’s love, and it] was desirable to make one happy.

“And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.”

As I read those words, the Spirit testified to me that they were true, and I was overcome with tears. The spirit of love and peace was so great! He really is aware of our problems, and He will help us through them. I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus love me, and Their love is greater than any other! Anytime I feel like I need a boost and need to feel Their love, I just read this scripture, and it helps me to remember that I am loved.

A Scripture for Change

I have a good friend who was struggling in his spiritual life. He is a good person, but he was drifting into inactivity in the Church. His testimony was wavering. He was struggling to break his bad habit of swearing. He’d watch violent movies and spend time playing violent video games. I really wanted to help him, but I wasn’t sure how.

One Sunday during testimony meeting, a priest in our ward spoke of a scripture that had helped him in a time of doubt and confusion: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God? And now, behold, you have received a witness” (D&C 6:22–24).

I thought this scripture might help my friend. So in class on Monday I wrote down the scripture and suggested he read it. The next day he thanked me, telling me he had read it and that it had helped a lot.

But he hadn’t told me half of it. A few days later, he told me just how this scripture had affected him. He told me that his mind had been continually turning to violent thoughts and that it was almost beyond his control. It was also beginning to become more difficult to control his actions. When he read the scripture I gave him, he got rid of his worst video games.

I was astonished at what my friend told me. Although he is still striving to put his life back in order, that one scripture I shared helped him a great deal at the time he needed it most. I know that if you are always a good example and you follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to help others grow closer to Heavenly Father.

Illustrations by Cary Henrie; detail from Christ with Boy by Carl Bloch