I just spent a week in Mississippi, visiting relatives. I always like to take a hostess gift, and worried over what to bring with me- something for the house? Flowers? Food? My husband, Bob, grew up in Louisiana, but today his brother and our sister-in-law live in Madison, a suburb of Jackson. As I was pondering what might be the perfect present, I felt a prompting. Give them your testimony.
Bob is the only LDS member of his family, and for years we have prayed for hearts to soften and for interest in the gospel to grow. Temple work has confirmed the conversion of many who have passed on, but never have we felt a breakthrough with those still living. Maybe the Lord was going to provide an opportunity when information might be gratefully received. Could it be the timing was finally right?
I prayed for the correct moment to present itself. I prayed for my loving intentions to be understood. I prayed for the right words. I prayed for even the tiniest window to open. And I saw, once again, that God does not set us up to fail. If he tells us to do something and we follow his lead, he opens not only tiny windows, but gigantic doors. Not only did I have several opportunities to discuss the Plan of Salvation, but to express joy in temple sealings, and in the love of our Father and his Son. A situation that required Priesthood blessings was met with a willingness to receive them, and Bob was able to use that sacred gift to touch their hearts and offer genuine healing power. Being instruments in God’s hands is a humbling and gratifying experience.
So often we bear our testimonies to one another, knowing we grow from it, knowing we help others in the process, but we don’t always realize that it’s an actual gift we’re giving. And it isn’t just any gift. It is the greatest gift you can possibly give to another person. Think about your testimony. It’s the grandest, most wonderful thing you possess.
Years ago, BYU Professor Daniel Ludlow used to conduct a simple exercise among missionaries. He would tell them to write down on slips of paper every blessing they could think of, that God had given them. Family, health, safety, food, shelter, friends, talents, and education come to mind. But even smaller things-a car, a good book, pets, electronic equipment-were written down as well. Then they spread the slips of paper out on a table. “Now take one away,” he would tell them. “One you could live without if you had to.” Of course the favorite desserts and movies were first to go. Soon they removed sporting equipment, furniture, and most material objects. It got tougher when they had to choose between safety and good health. What about your senses? Your family members? Ultimately the group realized that the last slip of paper, the one no one was willing to sacrifice, said “Testimony.” Truly that is the one possession that will save us, that will place us in eternity with our Father in Heaven. You could lose your whole family in a terrible accident, your house could burn down, you could become so crippled that you could never move again-but if you kept your testimony, that perfect brightness of hope, you’d gain exaltation.
And the remarkable thing about giving your testimony away to others is that you still keep it. In fact, it grows. If you want to give someone you love the most priceless gift in the universe, give them your testimony. Pray for the right way and the right time. God will help you share truth when he knows someone is ready to receive it. We obey in small promptings and he answers with magnificent miracles. And that’s another amazing gift.
Be sure to read Hilton’s blog at jonihilton.blogspot.com.
Her book, “FUNERAL POTATOES-THE NOVEL” (Covenant Communications) is in LDS bookstores everywhere.
And her latest three novels, “JUNGLE,” “SISTERS IN THE MIX,” and “PINHOLES INTO HEAVEN” are all available in paperback at Createspace.com, or Kindle at www.mormonbooksandauthors.com
Listen (and call in) to The Joni Hilton Show, streaming live on AM-1380 Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. PST.
Hilton has written 20 books, three award-winning plays, and is a frequent public speaker and a former TV talk show host. She is also the author of the “As the Ward Turns” series, “The Ten-Cow Wives’ Club,” and “The Power of Prayer.” Hilton is a frequent writer for “Music & The Spoken Word,” many national magazines. She is married to TV personality Bob Hilton, is the mother of four, and currently serves as Relief Society President in her ward in northern California. She can be reached at her website, jonihilton.com, Twitter:@JoniHilton, and Facebook: Joni Hilton.