I started this partially to work with a friend, who needs some purpose and direction. I reckoned, I do too. I don’t feel at liberty to quote the letter, and I’m editing what I wrote for this blog.
One of my favorite hymns (my father’s as well) is “Lead, Kindly Light”:
Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom;
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene—one step enough for me.
I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path; but now,
Lead thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years.
So long thy pow’r hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone.
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile!
Sometimes, you can’t see the next step. You just have to trust and put your foot forward. We don’t know all God’s plans for us, even when we understand our purpose. I prayed to ask if I should marry Kirsti, and I received an answer that I have never ever been more sure of in my life. And then, a couple weeks later we broke up. I never doubted that answer, but one night, I was pretty despondent about it. I just told God in my prayer that I didn’t understand what what going on or how to reconcile my answer with what was going on, but that I was going to trust him. Well, it worked out in the end. But even if Kirsti and I hadn’t reconciled, I was finally at peace with it in that moment. Even when I didn’t understand what was going on, and it didn’t seem to make sense, I had chosen to trust God. I think that was my moment of Abrahamic trial. It was hardly my first born son, let alone one I’d been promised for decades, but it was pretty important to me, and I don’t think I have the faith of Abraham anyway.
I’m sure your familiar with the scripture where Paul says “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (I prefer the KJV, though I suppose if you prefer NIV there’s “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” There’s a Book of Mormon prophet, Alma, who says “faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” Very similar sentiments. Using those as the basis for understanding, I want to look at what you said. “I really do believe and have faith.” You accept that God lives, you don’t doubt it. You accept, as well, that Jesus is your Savior (I’m inferring that, but it’s true, correct?).
That’s pretty much where I stand, myself. I have never wavered in my acceptance in the reality of God, nor in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. A lot like Joseph Smith said, “I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it.”
Have I always trusted him? Not really. Rather than trust a relationship with God, I have in the past sought out one of the more insidiously deceitful forms of false intimacy. While doing that, I wasn’t hearing anything from God. I’m sure He tried to speak with me, through others and through the Holy Spirit, but I was beyond hearing it.
When I finally made the choice to let Him lead me back to him, things changed dramatically in a short amount of time. I’m amazed at how I was able to become so resistant to the whispers of the Holy Ghost. Amazed at how awesome listening to God’s guidance can be. I’ve still got a long way to go, but those first few steps were very impressive.
There’s a book that’s popular among LDS people called Believing Christ. I’ve never read it, myself, but I bring it up because it draws a distinction. See, there’s also an LDS hymn called “I Believe in Christ.” Very stirring. But there’s a difference in those two titles. They both seem to be declarations of faith, but there’s a big meaning shift from believing in Christ, to believing Him, believing what He said and what He’ll do for you. Another Book of Mormon scripture comes to mind. When Christ was crucified, there were terrible storms, earthquakes, and destruction in the New World, which were followed by 3 days of darkness. During the darkness, the survivors heard the voice of God speaking to them: “And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.” He wants to protect us, to hold us close. But He waits for us to choose to do so.
There’s a lesson in the Old Testament about this. When the Israelites wandered the desert, there came a plague of poisonous snakes. The venom was deadly and many were dying. The Lord told Moses to raise a staff with a brass serpent on top of it. Any Israelite who looked to the serpent lived. Those who did not died. (That’s in Numbers 21). And because it was so easy to do, or for whatever stubbornness, many didn’t look. But those who looked, not knowing how that would work, they lived.
I think there’s more to faith than just believing. There’s an element of trust in it as well.
If I may be permitted to draw on the Book of Mormon again, The prophet Alma (the same one I mentioned above) made a comparison between faith and a seed (yes, the Savior did too, but this was a more detailed explanation than what we have in the New Testament). He says you plant the seed. You take care of it. Then it grows. and then it stops being faith. It grows, so you know it’s a true principle. It’s not faith anymore because you know. Takes a long time to get to that point. How do you develop faith into knowledge when you don’t have the faith to start with? Alma asks us to “exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you.” That’s all it takes. A “mustard seed” of faith indeed. You don’t have to have faith to part the Red Sea. You just have to have enough to take a step.
But the Lord does require us to take that step, spiritually. We don’t have to change everything. We just have to open a little to see if something will come inside. The rest comes latter.
I guess, to shorten it up, what I’m saying is that you don’t have to be a spiritual equivalent of Superman to let God in and begin a relationship. And you can’t have a deep relationship without starting one first. So just open up and be ready to shake God’s hand. God actually arriving in your life is what He will do, you don’t have to get him a ride. Just crack the door.