Faith is a Process
Do you feel that you have faith?
I used to think that faith was a static thing, either you had it or you didn’t. Now I think differently. I believe that faith is an ongoing process that ebbs and flows like a tide. It never stays the same. Faith is being built through positive relationships and spiritual experiences, or it is being tested during conflict, difficulty, and things that pull us in a downward direction. To me, faith has many facets. The following are just a few of them, using the letters in the word faith as a guideline:
F – Familiar
In order to have faith, there must be a person or object to have faith in. I have faith in myself, or believe in myself as a person of worth. I have faith that the sun will rise each day in the morning. I have faith that my car will start when I turn the key, or that the light will come on when I flip the switch. In any case, my faith is based upon the knowledge that I have in that particular area. Faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ is based upon the knowledge gained through scripture study, personal experience, and prayer. Learning about the Savior is the first step in developing faith in him. It is, in essence, planting a seed in one’s heart and hoping that fruit will eventually come. The action taken to learn and know about Jesus Christ brings a sweet feeling of peace and love.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.— Hebrews 11:1
A – Assurance
Once I learn about the Savior, his life and mission, his love and mercy, there comes an assurance that he loves me as an individual. I am able to understand his sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary. I love him because he first loved me. As I humbly seek him, I learn of his love and experience it in my own life. I see evidence of his love in the world around me, in my family, in good friends, and in beautiful music. The more I see and feel this assurance of God’s love for me, the more I desire to be near him and to be like him. I am led to greater study, more fervent prayer, more meaningful service, and the desire to live my life in such a way as to please him.
I – Intuition
The more my knowledge of Jesus Christ increases through my study and prayer, the sharper is my intuition, or my inner voice. I am more closely in tune with the wavelengths of heaven and am led and guided to do more good. Choices are pure, desires temperate, and vision is clear. At this point there comes a test of my faith. I see that my former life is not in keeping with the teachings of the Savior.
I desire to continue to feel his love for me, but I realize that he is not pleased with some things I have done in my life, and I need to repent. I realize that I have done wrong, I have a desire to do better, I confess my sins to God, and I try to make up for the things I did not do right. I also realize that in spite of all I do, I will never be perfect. Godly sorrow sets in, and I come down in the depths of humility. Through prayer and study, I grow in my understanding of the sacrifice and atonement of Jesus Christ. I realize that without him, I cannot be perfected, I cannot feel a fullness of joy.
T – Trust
At this point I put my trust in Jesus as my personal Savior. I know that he died for me, that he paid for my sins, that he loves me, and I begin to trust him. I am willing to do anything for him, my love for him is so strong. I trust the inner voice that speaks to me as his voice, the voice of the Holy Ghost leading and guiding me. Yes, there still are times when I must question; blind obedience is not the Savior’s way. His way is one of light and truth; the way that leads me to him. My trust in him leads me to experiences that both test and strengthen my faith. There will always be a test, and faith will either increase or decrease, depending on how I respond to the test.
....dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.— Ether 12:6*
H – Heavenly Father
The more I place my trust in Jesus Christ, the closer I feel to my Heavenly Father. My prayers take on new meaning. I am able to converse with God, the Father, in prayer as if he were there beside me. I begin to see things as he sees them. I learn, not just by study, but through my faith. I have greater love, compassion, kindness, gentleness, generosity, and charity. In fine, I am born of the Spirit. The law is no longer binding to me; I have risen above the law to a higher plane. I live the law of heaven, not the law of men on the earth. There still must be the system of checks and balances; however, I still cannot just blindly go forward. I must weigh things on a heavenly balance, and see the cause and effect relationship of my actions. I choose what God would choose if he were here; I become one with him.
Will there always be a test of our faith?
Each time we encounter a crisis in our lives, we feel a deep sense of fear and our faith is questioned. We do not know what the future holds, whether we or our loved ones will continue on in this life, or if we will have to face the world alone. Perhaps we have lost things that are near and dear to us, or are no longer surrounded by familiarity and home.
It is in these moments of greatest difficulty that we come closest to God. We learn to exercise our faith in his knowledge and understanding of our situation, and humbly plead for him to spare us or our loved ones. We realize that all things are in his hands, and that we are only weak and simple in our understanding of the world.
While in this time of difficulty, we are able to hear him speak peace to our souls more clearly, and we learn how dependent we are upon his saving grace. The real test comes, however, when things are going well. We easily forget where we have been and how far we have come. Our ability to remember God even in the good times makes it much easier when the next crisis comes around.
Choose to have faith, no matter what happens!
*The Book of Ether is in The Book of Mormon, published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
© 2011 Denise W Anderson