We think of childbirth as an event—a one-time something that happens on a particular day at a particular time. Nowadays, it’s often an event we can schedule ahead and put in our planner. We don’t have to wait for it to happen on its own. We can book a room and induce labor, so that birth happens when we want it to, more or less.
But, the truth is, being born is a process that started at conception. At the very least, birth is a nine month process that ends in an event. But even then, a natural birth begins weeks before the “event” with lots of Braxton Hicks contractions. There are signs all along the way that something is preparing to happen. Beneath the surface, where it can’t be seen by others, the coming event is picking up momentum.
So it is with conversion to God. I feel a definite witness that even with those people who describe their conversion as an event—like Paul and Alma—there was something already happening in their hearts, in the depths of their souls.
Why do I say that? Because God doesn’t force Himself on us, ever. Somewhere in the secret, silent places of Paul’s heart, something was already beginning to shift. In Alma’s darkened soul, something was already beginning to awaken.
I believe that sooner or later, all of us will have the Presence of the Lord “hit” us. The understanding of His eagerness and exquisite joy at being with us will finally dawn on us and take our breath away. It might have been years in the gestation, but one day we will all have that kind of encounter with the Presence of the Lord.
And from that point on, we will know. We will know that God loves us, and that He knows that we know (to paraphrase Joseph). We will know that He has come to take up His abode with us, to live with us through the Holy Spirit that dwells in our hearts.
That is the point at which the Atonement has become activated and effective in the HERE and NOW of our lives.
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