Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Faith: A Word of Action

Faith: A Word of Action

          If faith is steps that we take in the dark, and those steps take us toward "the light of the world" (John 9: 5) who is Christ. I would imagine that our next step would be to try and become more like Him who we profess to follow. As a rule, faith in our Lord and Savior should lead us to become closer to Him in word and deed. To take those steps of faith toward Jesus Christ, we first need to know something about Him and what his teachings and principles can bring into our lives. That is where today's post will begin:

Opening Our Hearts To The Gospel

          There is a story in The Book of Mormon of a man named Enos that illustrates this principle wonderfully. Allow me to elaborate, Enos was a man who grew up learning from his father about the gospel of Jesus Christ, but he had never quite taken it all to heart. I imagine he was in the same situation that many find themselves in as they can rattle off all of the textbook answers to gospel related questions, when you can get away with the answer "pray about it" the majority of the time. But where is the trust in that? Where is the faith, the love, or the desire to follow our Savior? It hasn't reached our hearts, at least not yet. For this is how Enos found himself, a man who knew what he should do and who I imagine did most of it, but for some reason or another never invested his heart. All of that was about to change for Enos, as it has for me, and as it has for all those who have put their trust in the Savior enough to follow Him. Enos was out on the hunt, but while searching for game, he also was searching his thoughts and his heart. He says of his experience: "the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart." (Enos 1:3). He had finally found room within to let the gospel of Jesus Christ sink in and take meaning into his soul. "And my soul hungered" Enos said, and he immediately took action and he knelt down to pray unto the Lord (Enos 1:4). 

Hungering After Righteousness 

          In Christ's Sermon on the Mount, as well as in his discourse to the Nephites, a people living on the American continent during the time Christ was on the earth and whom he visited after his resurrection. He states to those who he taught that "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness" (See Matthew 5: 6 & 3 Nephi 12: 6). Enos was blessed, not only because of his desire to accept the gospel, but because he actually did something about it. His soul was hungry for the truth, so he sought it out and prayed, and that is when the blessings came. Now to make a quirky analogy that I hope will solidify my point, I want to compare this situation to a man sitting in a kitchen with full cupboards, working appliances, and all the cook books that he could ever need, but he is slowly starving to death. "Why?" you may ask. Because he won't get up and use all the tools he has been given. How many of us are in the same situation spiritually? Do we sit and wait for someone to come and force feed us the things of the gospel? To we allow the ingredients, our faith, desires, and good intentions, to rot in the cupboards or our heart until they are useless? Do we sometimes turn to the Lord and expect Him to give us anything we haven't done our part to receive? We can turn on the oven, but unless we put something in it, nothing will cook. How many times do we send empty prayers to our Father in Heaven expecting Him to fill them and give them meaning? How often do we try to throw a few random good intentions and actions into our lives and expect them to help if we don't follow the recipe for happiness found in the scriptures? How do I know that if I follow a recipe and put it in the oven that it will turn into a chocolate cake? I'll never know unless I try  it out. I use my faith that what I'm doing will provide the desired result and I act accordingly. Faith in this sense is a verb. Faith isn't merely something we have, it is something that we must live by everyday. "I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because you see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." (Ether 12: 6).

Receiving The Blessings

          "I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins" (Enos 1:2) It is my testimony that to receive blessings from on high, we need to do our part to receive them. We have been given our ability to choose right from wrong and until we choose what is right, we cannot be blessed for righteousness. I know that I am imperfect and have much room to grow, but I, as Enos of old have opened my heart and begun moving down the path or righteousness. I know that God can show me the way to go if I only put my faith in Him. He has provided me with all the supplies, equipment, and knowledge to follow his path for me. I know that it is up to me to use the tools that He has given me as I try to follow his Son.  I know these things to be true and there is nothing that can change my mind. I love the Lord and will follow Him! These things I leave with you in the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Faith: Steps in the Dark

Faith: Steps in the Dark

     As I begin to add my jumbled thoughts to the world of blogging, I am taking a step into a new place. I've never done much writing other than on assigned topics so this is a fairly new experience for me. I'm not sure exactly what to do, but that won't stop me from doing it! 

First, A Question:

     Have you ever woken in the night to the dense, thick darkness of the early morning hours? For me this happens all the time. I know it will be too bright if I turn on the light so I set off across the house hoping not to step on anything with my bare feet. When you are off on your middle-of-the-night walks around the house for whatever reason, what leads you? How do you find your way? Do you run your fingertips along the smooth wall searching for an open door? When I wander at night in my home in Utah, I know the layout and can navigate with little or no error, but what does this have to do with faith?

Next, A Transition:

     Whenever my physical eyes can't see, I know that I can wait for them to adjust, turn on the light, or just break out a trusty flashlight to guide me on my way, but what do we do when we find ourselves blinded and in the darkness with our spiritual eyes? I find myself sometimes at a loss of where to go and what to do in my spiritual walk. It is in times like these that I try to remember a lesson taught in The Book of Mormon. A man, called of God, named Lehi had a vision in which he found himself in a "dark and dreary wilderness" (See 1 Nephi 8 1-12). He like so many of us was at the mercy of the elements of this world. Doubt, fear, and vice, anxiety and uneasiness are always to be found when we are in the dark and dreary times of our lives. 

Step 3, Hope:

     We all have experienced or are experiencing moments, hours, or days of this dark and depressing experience of being spiritually blind. How did we find our way free? What is, or more appropriately, who is our escape from this burden of darkness? The prophet, Lehi, knew the answer to that question. In his vision he says that he had traveled for "many hours in darkness" struggling to find his way before he turned to the Lord in prayer. How long do I wander in the darkness of my life before I allow God to open my eyes and he did for Lehi? How long do you? The Lord is always there to answer our prayers, some answers come fast while others move at a slower pace. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, leads and directs us in the way the He knows will help us to learn and grow the most. Maybe Lehi needed to travel in his "dark and dreary waste" before he could truly appreciate the fruit of the Tree of Life which was "desirable to make one happy".

     I know that even in my darkest, most depressing times I have been able to call upon the Lord for support. I have been able to be lifted out of my lows and been brought to stand upon higher ground. I echo Lehi's son, Nephi when I say that I have trusted in my God and he has brought me forth from my afflictions! (2 Nephi 4: 16-35) Christ is the source of all happiness, of all peace. Do we often forget that though the world may seem exciting we will find all that we truly desire as we draw near unto our Savior Jesus Christ. 

     May we all, myself included, remember that when we find ourselves in darkness and in the depths of sadness, that there is always a road, a path, a helping hand that can lead us, show us, or help us back into the light of His love. It is my pleasure to echo His words as I invite others to do as He commanded. "Come, follow me" (Luke 18: 22), is what He said and we must leave all things behind which are not as He would have them be. These things I know to be true and I say them in His sacred name, Jesus Christ. Amen.