In the most recent General Conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard shared a story I'd like to repeat here:
Oftentimes we are like the young merchant from Boston, who in 1849, as the story goes, was caught up in the fervor of the California gold rush. He sold all of his possessions to seek his fortune in the California rivers, which he was told were filled with gold nuggets so big that one could hardly carry them.
|Gold nuggets are representative of miracles|
Day after endless day, the young man dipped his pan into the river and came up empty. His only reward was a growing pile of rocks. Discouraged and broke, he was ready to quit until one day an old, experienced prospector said to him, “That’s quite a pile of rocks you are getting there, my boy.”
The young man replied, “There’s no gold here. I’m going back home.”
Walking over to the pile of rocks, the old prospector said, “Oh, there is gold all right. You just have to know where to find it.” He picked two rocks up in his hands and crashed them together. One of the rocks split open, revealing several flecks of gold sparkling in the sunlight.
Noticing a bulging leather pouch fastened to the prospector’s waist, the young man said, “I’m looking for nuggets like the ones in your pouch, not just tiny flecks.”
|Like gold flecks, testimonies come over time|
The old prospector extended his pouch toward the young man, who looked inside, expecting to see several large nuggets. He was stunned to see that the pouch was filled with thousands of flecks of gold.
The old prospector said, “Son, it seems to me you are so busy looking for large nuggets that you’re missing filling your pouch with these precious flecks of gold. The patient accumulation of these little flecks has brought me great wealth.”
Elder Ballard went on to say: "[T]he gospel of Jesus Christ is simple, no matter how much we try to make it complicated. We should strive to keep our lives similarly simple, unencumbered by extraneous influences, focused on those things that matter most."
In short, we should be content with flecks of gold because nuggets only come our way so often. In the gospel—as in life—testimonies come through daily living of gospel principles, not through some miraculous, life-changing experience, though such an experience certainly can build our testimonies.
I learned this principle as a staff writer and managing editor at the Sanpete Messenger, a newspaper in Central Utah. I didn't become a good writer overnight. Progress came slowly, here a little and there a little. After working at the newspaper for nearly three years, it was fun to see how much I'd improved.
Don't get discouraged if you think you're not 'getting it.' You know more about the gospel and Jesus Christ than you give yourself credit for. If you'll continue to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, you'll learn even more. But you can't expect to learn it overnight.
What are some things that have strengthened your testimony? How do we keep our testimonies strong? Comment below.