Sunday, January 11, 2015

Moving Forward in Faith

I had to speak last Sunday on moving forward in faith. When I heard the topic I immediately thought about when we moved out to the county in New Hill. It is much much darker out here at night than in the big town of Apex and on our land there is about a 30 yard walk from where I used to park the van to the house. (I park closer now because out in the country it is ok if you park your car on your lawn.) :)

So, coming from the van to the house at night was an adventure with three children. Even with the porch light on 30 yards away, it is not enough to see where you are walking in the country dark. So I would often hold my youngest, Liam, and have a child clinging to each arm or each leg as we walked over the uneven ground. I don't blame them, it was dark and there were new noises.

My sweet husband to help the situation installed 2 motion lights on each of the front corners of our shed that we walk past to get to the house. After installing the motion lights we would still have to walk a few feet before the light would come on and then we would walk further and the second light would turn on lighting the path that curves to the house. I hardly ever walk to the house now without thinking about faith because that is exactly how faith works. Sometimes we feel like we are walking in the dark, but if we continue to walk, the light will come on and as we continue to have faith and walk and we can receive more light and that faith and light leads us to our heavenly home.

If we waited in the dark for the light to come on, we would be waiting forever. Action is required on our part, we must move forward in faith.

“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:18–20).

I love the verb “press” in “press forward.” It reminds us that it will not always be easy. We might struggle and have to put forth great effort to move forward. Surely there will be obstacles in each of our paths.

Having a “brightness of hope” is an important part of the scripture. It encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father, who has prepared a way for those who seek for eternal truth in a world of relativism, confusion, and of fear.

We might be going through extremely difficult things that try our faith, We be experiencing grief or health issues, we might be afraid of the unknown and in need of reassurance or be feeling remorse for something we have done. We might experience questions or doubts. These are all a normal part of Earth Life but despite all of these things we CAN move forward in Faith because we CAN TRUST our Father in Heaven in HIS Gospel, In HIS Love for us, in HIS plan for us and in HIS promises.

Concerning questions and doubts, Elder Uchtodorf said in the October 2013 general conference: “It’s natural to have questions—the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding. There are few members of the Church who, at one time or another, have not wrestled with serious or sensitive questions. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty. Faith is to hope for things which are not seen but which are true.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”1

So how do we go about honestly doubting our doubts? How do we anchor our faith on the solid rock of revelation and not on the sandy soil of shifting human understanding and allow ourselves to move forward?

In the article from last Month’s Ensign that I really enjoyed called: The Answer to All the Hard Questions, R. VAL JOHNSON discusses 5 helpful Principles:

Principle 1: God Knows Infinitely More Than We Do. When faced with questions—whether personal, social, or doctrinal—we can rely on the fact that the Creator of the universe knows far more than we do. If He has addressed a topic (and sometimes He hasn’t), we can trust that His views are clearer than ours.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9).

Principle 2: God Shares Some of His Knowledge. God shares with us as much of what He knows as we are ready to receive and He is ready to deliver. We just need to prepare ourselves to receive it, then seek it. The scriptures answer many questions. One of the great pleasures of this life is being taught by the Holy Ghost as He uses the scriptures to reveal “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30) in response to our diligent study.

We are also blessed to have living prophets and apostles to teach us under the inspiration of heaven. We need not be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.” We can trust that their collective guidance will help us “all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God.” (See Ephesians 4:11–15.)

Principle 3: We Can Trust in God’s Love. God loves us far more than we can imagine. We are His children, and He wants us to return to His presence as mature, glorified beings capable of becoming like Him (see Moses 1:39). All the counsel He gives us is given with the deepest of love to bless us eternally. We can trust in that love completely.

An experience I had that is special to me where I was able to feel the Love of God for me personally happened in the Temple: I was 21 I had graduated from what was then Rick’s college and I was working at a grocery store trying to save money and trying to figure out what to do next I should do next with my life. I was feeling pretty down, pretty confused about some decisions that felt really big to me. Should I go back out west to school, should I continue to date so and so, should I start filling out mission papers…

I had a close friend invite me to drive up to the DC temple and I went. They had already been through the temple and received their endowments but I had not. While they were in a session, I was kindly allowed to do some confirmations. I went into the women’s dressing room to change into white clothing. I was completely alone in there. I remember that it was so very very quiet. I walked through the dressing area and into a stall and closed the door. I remember putting my things down and feeling pretty low one moment and then out of nowhere, came a feeling of complete love and warmth that I could feel from the top of my head to my toes and it surrounded me. It was truly like a blanket and it was so powerful that I said thank you out loud. I will never forget that The Temple is literally the House of God or the Love of God that I felt there. I did not receive a specific answer then but I knew that it was going to be ok. That experience helps me to remember that no matter what difficulties we may have to endure, we can trust in God’s love for us and his plan for us.

Principle 4: We Need to Seek Spiritual Affirmations. Of affirmations from the spirit. If so much of the world’s wisdom seems contrary to God’s, we should not be surprised. After all, by divine design, we live in a fallen world where we are cut off from the presence and mind of God. Such a condition can make understanding the things of God difficult, “for what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. …

“The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:11, 14).

If we are to understand the things of God, we can’t depend on human wisdom alone to do the job. We need access to the Spirit of God “that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. … which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:12–13).

When we are baptized and confirmed members of Christ’s Church, we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost. With that gift, we can learn from the Spirit and receive His comforting confirmations of truth. Receiving such spiritual affirmations dispels doubt more surely than the most convincing logic, and it is available to all who seek truth through sincere prayer, diligent study, and obedience to the Lord’s commandments.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).

I’d like to add that remembering what we do know and the spiritual experience that we have had can also help us to move forward in faith when we experience difficult times. The last principle

Principle 5: We May Need to Wait Upon the Lord. Sometimes we come up blank as we struggle to understand the trials and questions we have. Despite our best efforts, understanding escapes us. The heavens seem closed. That’s when our trust in God enables us to have the patience to wait upon Him. Not all questions will be answered immediately or even in this life. Not all trials will ease before body and spirit separate. But if we love God above all else, if we trust in His love for us, we will be able to endure in faith until that day dawns when the veil lifts and all becomes clear.

In Psalms 37 we are given a promise “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.

I know that as we learn to trust in our Heavenly Father’s love, great wisdom and plan for our lives, and as we seek to increase our faith and know his truths through the Holy Ghost through sincere prayer, diligent study and by obedience to the commandments that when trials come our way we will have the strength to press forward with faith and face our hardships with courage and a brightness of hope.

I love Our Father in Heaven's plan for us even though it is often difficult. I know He loves us and that the things we experience in this life are for our learning and growth and also allow us to help others. I trust that his plan for me is to help me become all that I can and I know I am a better woman because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement in my life. I know that this is His restored Gospel on the Earth, That Joseph Smith was the prophet of the restoration and that we are led by a prophet today.


Mim said...

This was beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

Betty Crenshaw said...

Loved reading your thoughts and insights! Thank you for sharing your beautiful testimony.