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Six words that can change everything
Laying hold on every good thing
Not too long ago, I was feeling discouraged about various things that weren’t going as I wished they would. This feeling is an almost constant threat for me, to be honest. I have to beat it back all the time. It’s this nagging little voice that seems to have nothing better to do than to remind me of all that I am not and all that I’m not yet doing but should be. #NotAFan
Previously I had scheduled an appointment to serve in the temple early in the morning but I didn’t feel like going. I wanted to cancel. Somehow I ended up keeping the appointment, but I was just going through the motions. I wanted so much to feel the holiness of the place but…nothing.
As I prepared to go home, a quiet thought slipped past my heartache.
“Open the scriptures before you leave.”
I hesitated, thinking I didn’t have time or that it was just my own idea. When the thought persisted, I begrudgingly found a quiet place to sit down and opened a copy of The Book of Mormon to read, “but just for a minute” I thought to myself. #NotMyBestMoment
“Turn to Ether 12.” This is a chapter I turn to often, which reinforced the thought that I probably wasn’t inspired and was just hearing my own thoughts.
I started to read from the beginning and then reached verse 3:
For he [the prophet Ether] did cry from the morning, even until the going down of the sun, exhorting the people to believe in God unto repentance lest they should be destroyed, saying unto them that by faith all things are fulfilled.
I stopped reading. There was something different happening. It was as if those last six words were in 3D, just to make sure I didn’t miss the message I was being given.
By faith all things are fulfilled.
I began to think through all of the things I was currently struggling with or failing at. I thought of things I wanted but didn’t yet have, and of changes I needed to make but hadn’t yet made. And I thought of the miracles that I want for myself, my family, and many others I love.
As I returned home, those six words—by faith all things are fulfilled—wouldn’t leave my mind. Although I had read and shared them many times before, it was as if I had discovered their potency for the first time. The cloud I’d been under had dissipated, replaced with a new hope and clarity about what needed to happen for me to see the miracles I was hoping for.
Since then, I’ve thought about whether or not to share this experience here on The Bright & Morning Star and what I’m discovering about faith. I’ve learned to be careful about sharing personal spiritual experiences in case they were intended (as they sometimes are) for an audience of one. But in this case, I feel there might be something helpful for others to learn from this. I hope that is true.
As the Prophet Joseph Smith famously taught, the first principle of the gospel is “faith in Jesus Christ.” He also shared that “faith is a principle of action and power.” One interpretation of this is that we must first act in faith before we receive the power of faith.
One of my favorite teachings about faith in Jesus Christ is found in 2 Nephi 27:23 - “For behold, I am God; and I am a God of miracles; and I will show unto the world that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and I work not among the children of men save it be according to their faith.”
I understand so little about the power of faith. I need so very much to access that power in my life and to help those I love also do so.
How do I obtain this kind of faith? I think at least some of the answer is found in that statement from Joseph Smith - “action.”
“Faith is evidenced in deeds. And as faith is the principle of action, so the opposite of faith, which we typically refer to as doubt, is the principle of inaction. Thus, if you and I have faith in Christ, we accept and live His teachings and we accept and obey His commandments. If you and I have faith in Christ, we strive to live worthily and seek for the companionship of the Holy Ghost, we repent of our sins, we minister to the poor and needy, we carefully listen to and apply the teachings of the living prophets, and we do the works of righteousness.
Faith in prayer is evidenced in part when we kneel down. More importantly, however, faith is reflected when we get up and work diligently to accomplish that for which we have prayed. The true exercise of faith in prayer begins when we say, ‘amen.’ Whereas belief requires only the mind, faith ultimately requires all of our mind and all of our heart and all of our might and all of our strength.”
(There is obviously so much more to explore and discover here. Whenever I focus on trying to develop more faith in the Savior, I am thrilled to learn how much more there is to learn. If you have an extra minute, go and read Moroni 7:20-25. How does Mormon tell us we can “lay hold on every good thing?”)
A final thought here from God’s living prophet, President Russell M. Nelson:
“Act in faith. What would you do if you had more faith? Think about it. Write about it. Then receive more faith by doing something that requires more faith.”
Back to my garden-variety discouragement over unfulfilled wants and present-tense problems, I think it’s so important to take the Lord literally when He uses words like “all” and “every.” Too often I exclude my situations from His promise of divine assistance.
“He can’t mean He wants to help me with that, can He? Surely that desire/struggle/sin is excluded from His offer to assist, right?”
I know of no scriptural or prophetic teaching that validate my weak-sauce efforts to limit the scope of Jesus’s power. “All” means “all.”
Exercising real faith in Jesus Christ actually requires this expansive view of what He’s willing and able to help us with. If we couldn’t approach Him for help with every problem, every worry, every fear, every sin—in short, about anything and everything we need His help with, it seems like we would quickly be overcome with doubt and lose all hope.
I’ve shared these favorite verses from Paul before, but they seem too relevant not to share again:
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
No matter what my need is, He invites me to “come boldly to the throne of grace” with an expectation of customized, perfectly-tailored divine assistance.
This last one may be one of the most challenging parts of believing the Savior’s promise of help to those who seek Him in faith. What does “fulfilled” exactly mean? Does it mean that He will give me what I asked for when I asked for it? Does it mean things will turn out the way I think they should? Nope.
Moroni’s teachings just a few verses further in Ether 12 make it clear that there is a critical part of our journey that can be daunting - the trial of our faith.
I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.
Again, much more could be said here, but for the sake of sharing without overwhelming, I will only say this: The test may be the most important part. How we respond when we don’t receive the miracle, when we don’t immediately (or ever) get the thing we thought was so urgently needed, is often where we (and heaven) find out what we are really made of.
How sweet it is to know that He always has our best interests at heart. How comforting it can be to trust in the truth that He always knows what is best and will always send the exact thing we need, exactly when we need it. As my sweet mission president’s wife Sister George often used to tell struggling missionaries, “He won’t always answer when we ask Him, but He’ll always answer on time.”
I hope to share additional thoughts about these six verses over the next few weeks. They have become very personal and feel especially relevant right now.
Can we say too much about faith?
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