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Friday, June 14, 2013

FOOD FOR THE SPIRIT --- Fan the Flame of Your Faith

I have been reviewing the addresses given at the April 2013 General Conference.  This morning I had the privilege of reading Elder Holland's masterpiece:  "Lord, I Believe".  If you haven't had the chance to read this gospel classic, please, please read it here:  http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/04/lord-i-believe?lang=eng&media=video#watch=video

Elder Holland's words, as usual, were exactly what I needed to hear this morning.  As He speaks about the man who came to his apostles, pleading for any help they could offer him, I was so touched by his honesty.  After the apostles were unable to help, he turned to the Savior himself, begging for ANY assistance, any lightening of the load which his family had bourne for so long as caretakers of a severely handicapped child.  His plea was desperate.  Then, when asked if He believed that the Savior could help, he firmly replied:  "Yea Lord I believe," then frankly and honestly added, "Help thou mine unbelief."

This story has always been one of my favorites in all scripture mostly because I relate to this man so much.  I have faith, but I am all too aware that it is imperfect and young and at times, even vulnerable.

As I was driving to work this morning, not knowing that this address was the next one I would be listening to, I was actually thinking about my faith and wondering about its strength.  At times, my heart is so strong, filled with faith, devoid of doubts or questions.  Then at other times, I feel very little.  It's probably a little bit of the pride cycle going on in my life.  Perhaps small choices I make are making the influence of the Spirit harder to feel at times.  Whatever the reason, at times, my faith still wavers.  Lately, I have been feeling very overwhelmed at the thought of becoming a mommy again.  Motherhood is already hard, with four!  How will I manage my day-to-day craziness with one more?  How will we make it financially?  The doubts at this stage, especially on hard days, are all around me.  I wish I could make them stop.  I pray that the Lord will grant me peace and allow me to feel more joy about this little one coming our way.  I desperately want that!

I love what Elder Holland said about HOW to show honesty in our weakness:  When problems come and questions arise, do not start your quest for faith by saying how much you do not have, leading as it were with your “unbelief.” That is like trying to stuff a turkey through the beak! Let me be clear on this point: I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! So let us all remember the clear message of this scriptural account: Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle...

Furthermore, you have more faith than you think you do because of what the Book of Mormon calls “the greatness of the evidences.”7 “Ye shall know them by their fruits,” Jesus said,8 and the fruit of living the gospel is evident in the lives of Latter-day Saints everywhere. As Peter and John said once to an ancient audience, I say today, “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard,” and what we have seen and heard is that “a notable miracle hath been done” in the lives of millions of members of this Church. That cannot be denied.9

Brothers and sisters, this is a divine work in process, with the manifestations and blessings of it abounding in every direction, so please don’t hyperventilate if from time to time issues arise that need to be examined, understood, and resolved. They do and they will. In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know. And remember, in this world, everyone is to walk by faith.

So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. And when you see imperfection, remember that the limitation is not in the divinity of the work. As one gifted writer has suggested, when the infinite fullness is poured forth, it is not the oil’s fault if there is some loss because finite vessels can’t quite contain it all.10 Those finite vessels include you and me, so be patient and kind and forgiving.

Last observation: When doubt or difficulty come, do not be afraid to ask for help. If we want it as humbly and honestly as this father did, we can get it. The scriptures phrase such earnest desire as being of “real intent,” pursued “with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God.”11 I testify that in response to that kind of importuning, God will send help from both sides of the veil to strengthen our belief."

I love this blog and now I know one reason why it is so helpful to me as I face life's challenges.  It is a place where I can express first my faith, then my doubts, in that order!  It is a place where I can acknowledge the ground I have already won.  I can (and often do), look back over past experiences and see the hand of God in the solutions that invariably come to me as I experiment upon my faith.  God has helped me move mountains.  Even though my faith is still small and imperfect, God accepts it gladly.  He blesses me extravagently!

I also love Elder Holland's mention of receiving help through our trials from both sides of the veil.  As I have turned to my fathers, learning more about them, their lives, their hopes and dreams, their stories, I truly have felt their influence on me.  The experiences I have been blessed with regaring my ancestors are precious and sacred and truly do bless me with strength and increased faith.

I bear testimony that I believe that this church is Christ's church.  I am so grateful for the knowledge that is beginning to fill my young heart as I implore and seek to do God'swill.  I am so thankful for His prophets who help me to find truth.  These truths bless my life immeasurably.  The Atonement has the power to bind up my wounds and make me whole.  It is for everyone:  the imperfect, the foolish, the proud.  I am thankful for the words of the Book of Mormon, which are an anchor to my proud heart, constantly reminding me of the need to turn my life over to my God.  I am grateful to the lovingkindness of a loving Father.  I am grateful and hope to be ever aware of the countless tender mercies bestowed upton me.  He is so good to me.  He blesses me disproportionately.  After all I can do to ever repay Him, I will yet be an unprofitable servant.  I am thankful that God has use for imperfect beings and that He has confidence in my abilities and capabilities.  That confidence in me is what keeps me going.  I offer these words as a humble testimony of His love, in the spirit of most sincere gratitude, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.