In all things, belief is a choice. When our parents teach us something, we choose to believe them or not. When we go to school, we choose if we want to believe in what we are taught. When "science" tells us something is, we must choose to believe it is correct. Even for things that seem indisputable (i.e. The earth is round), we have a choice to believe or not.
When it comes to things of the divine, the same is true.
Belief is a choice. Faith is a choice. Not believing is also a choice. Every day we each make that choice to believe or not. All religion requires that we choose to believe in things we can't see, things we don't understand, things that don't make perfect sense, and things that may seem wrong. There is no way around this.
In theory, I am sure each of us knows that belief is a choice. But, deep down, we still want proof. We still want the sign from God. We still want the divine manifestation. After all, we know God does such things. The account of Paul in the Bible is a perfect example.
He [Saul, later changed to Paul] thought Christians were wicked, and he worked hard to rid the empire of them. He searched the towns and homes, and when he found any men or women who believed in Christ, they were put into prison.
So great was Saul's vengeance that he went to the high priest and obtained letters to take to the synagogues in Damascus. The letters gave Saul the authority to take prisoner any Christian he found on his journey.
Carrying the letters, Saul started for Damascus, determined to destroy the Christians. But as he neared the city, a light from heaven encircled him. Bewildered, Saul fell to the earth.
"Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" asked a voice hovering near.
Frightened, Saul asked, "Who art thou, Lord?"
The voice answered, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest."
Trembling, Saul asked, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"
"Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do," the Lord instructed.
Obediently Saul arose, only to find that he was blind. Saul's companions led him into Damascus, where for three days, his blindness continued, and he neither ate nor drank.
After the three days, a man named Ananias was sent to Saul by the Lord. Putting his hands on Saul's head, Ananias prayed, "Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost."
Immediately Saul could see again. Saul now knew that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, and he asked to be baptized into His church.
After a divine visitation like Saul/Paul's, we might say, "Of course, Paul believed. Jesus spoke directly to him." But despite this miraculous experience, belief was still a choice Paul had to make. Paul could have concluded…
"It was a dream."
"I must have fallen, bumped my head, and hallucinated the whole thing."
"Somehow, somebody tricked me."
"I must have eaten some bad olives."
"I'm having a full-blown psychotic breakdown."
Or, he could choose to believe, which is of course, what he did.
Even "proof" requires a choice to believe.
If we find indisputable proof that the Book of Mormon is from God. If we find a video recording of the First Vision. Even if God himself comes down and says this church is his. We will each still need to choose to believe.
Will you choose to believe?