My Guilt Was Burned And Washed Away
[The most profound experience is that of repentance. The following testimony can be attested to by thousands. Note, The Most Holy & Sacred Book of Mormon is about Christ, repentance, and the forgiveness of sin, not Mormonism.]
I went over to the wall of bookshelves in our living room. I saw novels, histories, and autobiographies that looked interesting. (My mom was avid reader, collecting hundreds of books, and it was usually my job to dust them.) By then my eye caught a little blue book in the extreme upper left-hand corner. Something told me to take that very book down and read it. I pulled it down and opened up the Book of Momon. I didn’t know why, but I sat down and started to read. I read about twenty pages and felt warm and cool at the same time. I felt a kind of warm tingling all over and thought that a window must be open, but I checked and they were all closed. I began feeling that there was something very important about this book, that there were things being taught in this book that would be important for me to learn and understand.
But when I got home from work that night about 9:30, I again had a powerful feeling urging me to read the Book of Mormon. I went downstairs, got the book, and brought it up to my room, sat down, and began to read. Again I felt those strange warm chills I had never felt before. I admired Nephi. He seemed to be a strong and courageous person. I also admired the prophet Abinadi, who was willing to suffer torture and death because of his belief in God. These prophets were not the weak men I’d assumed religion would make them. I felt anticipation as I read about the coming visit of Jesus Christ to the people in the Book of Mormon. Although I had heard about Jesus Christ, I had never read the Bible nor really cared one way or another about who Christ was or why I should know His teachings.
I read through the night until about 6 a.m. Many times I wanted to stop. I couldn’t understand why I was sitting up all night reading any book, much less a religious book. There wasn’t reason in that. I thought that if my friends could see me staying up all night reading a book about Jesus they would really give me a hard time. I was tired and sore and wanted to sleep, but I couldn’t put the book down. Though the strong feelings were strange, they felt wonderful.
I went to school that day and to work that night and thought deeply about the things I had read. Something was happening within me. I began to feel sorrow for my sins and began to desire to be different, to be more like the people I was reading about. I had a strong desire to read the Book of Mormon, more than to do anything else. I rushed home from work that night and sat down at the same desk in my room and began to read. Again I read though the night. Many times I wanted to stop because of fatigue and hunger, but I sensed that there was something waiting for me at the end of the book that I needed to read. So I read on.
When I came to where Jesus Christ visited the people of America and read what He did and taught, I was on the verge of tears. I read with great joy the words that Jesus spoke to the people, and I knew that what He was saying was true. His actions and words touched something deep within me. I loved Jesus and wanted to be with Him. I felt sorrow for my sins, and I knew that I needed forgiveness. Somehow I knew that He was the Son of God and that it was very important for me to learn about Him and to have Him become a part of my life.
When I got about ten pages from the end of the book, and could see that I was nearly finished, it was about 5 a.m. on the second night. I was weary and wanted very much to sleep. My eyes and back were tired and sore. I thought, I’ll just read the rest of this tomorrow. But then another strong feeling compelled me to continue reading to the end.
I suddenly felt wide awake, as if I had awoken from a ten-hour sleep. I got to Moroni 10:3-5, which were marked with lines and the phrase “very important verses.” I read these verses several times, finally understanding what these verses were asking me to do. I thought about how merciful the Lord had been to humanity and to me. I pondered the things that I had read, the teachings about Jesus, the purpose of life, the great sacrifices that people were willing to make for their belief in God, the teachings of Christ, and I thought about the feelings I had as I read. I didn’t understand what they were. I didn’t know where those feelings came from. I just knew that I had never felt that way before. And I thought about my sins. I also sensed deep within that there was something extremely important about this book.
Then I realized that the verses were also asking me to ask God in prayer if what I had read was true. I had never prayed before, though I had said the Lord’s Prayer in church many times and had read other prayers in the Book of Common Prayer. But I had never prayed to God “with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ.” I knew that this was what I needed to do.
I knelt in my room and prayed that God would forgive me of my sins and tell me if the things that I had read in the Book of Mormon were true. During that prayer, I had a profound spiritual experience. I felt an intense and overwhelming magnification of the feelings that I had felt all the way through the Book of Mormon. I felt as if my body were on fire and at the same time as if waves of water were pouring over and through me. My guilt was burned and washed away. I felt almost as if I were lifted off the ground or lifted out of my body. New knowledge flowed into my mind, and new feelings poured into my heart. The truthfulness of the Book of Mormon was burned into my soul. I felt completely at one with God and with all people. I no longer desired to follow my goals or my desires but only wanted to be close to God and all people.
Many small pictures flowed through my mind, small glimpses of what seemed to be my future: pictures and feelings of me living a righteous life and teaching others about Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon, and many other scenes I didn’t understand. I had glimpses of a profound connection with all people, and of relationships with the prophets I had read about, of spending time with great souls learning about the wonders of the universe. I know that this was God’s answer to my prayer. I wept for a long time at the joy of knowing that God knew about me and loved me, that my life was not an accident, of knowing that I had been taken off a path that could have led to destruction and being placed on a path that would lead to joy and peace. My prayer and experience must have lasted close to thirty minutes. Everything changed in that prayer-my thoughts, feelings, desires, and longings. I felt like my mind and heart and spirit were completely cleansed and that I was like a container, waiting to be filled.
When I arose from my knees, went to my bed and lay down, I couldn’t sleep. Thoughts were rushing through my mind that this was the most important day of my life, that everything from this day on would be different. I knew more than I had ever known anything in my life that there was a God, that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, that I had been forgiven of my sins because of what he did, and that the Book of Mormon was God’s word.
The Lord knew that I would probably not have listened to any person who tried to convert me to a religion and instead compelled me to read on my own and blessed me with an outpouring of his Spirit. I have never doubted since that morning that God answers sincere prayer and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. Because of my experience, I wanted to tell everyone I knew and met about the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ. I have had the blessing of teaching many about the Book of Mormon and seeing it lead them to Christ. (David Dollahite, “My Guilt Was Burned And Washed Away,” in Eugene England, Converted to Christ Through the Book of Mormon, 1989, pp. 151-154)