A Crisis of Faith
|photo credit: beyondtherisk.com|
Within the last year or so, a few of my family/friends have made major life decisions that have lead them away from the gospel. These were all endowed people who at one time had a current temple recommend. Because my contact with them was not consistent, to me, their decisions seemed ‘out of the blue’ and not in harmony with their personality/character.
I pondered for quite awhile how these decisions just ‘came out of no where.’ Then I recalled a few principles:
- Big decisions never come out of no where. People have been pondering them for some time. They may never share their thoughts with anyone and so it seems ‘out of nowhere,’ but it never is…
- Lucifer works on our thoughts as much, if not more than our actions. Actions are only thoughts put in motion. For as he athinketh in his bheart, so is he…(Proverbs 23:7)
- It is possible to ‘sin’ in the way we think…. But behold, hearken ye unto me, and know that by the help of the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth I can tell you concerning your thoughts, how that ye are beginning to labor in sin, which sin appeareth very abominable unto me, yea, and abominable unto God. (Jacob 2:5) Also, added to this thought is the scripture from Alma 30:11 which teaches: For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes. Nevertheless, there was no law against a man’s belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes which he had done; therefore all men were on aequal grounds. Even today, church discipline is not enacted for beliefs, but behavior. However, it is clear from the verse in Jacob, the prophet refers to the people as ‘beginning to labor in sin, which sin….’ Thus even though the people may not be sanctioned for their thoughts, they are certainly being cautioned and told they need to change their thoughts.
- We have a responsibility to monitor or ‘police’ our thoughts. President Monson in April 2010 General Conference quoted President McKay, “President David O. McKay, ninth President of the Church, advised, “I implore you to think clean thoughts.” He then made this significant declaration of truth: “Every action is preceded by a thought. If we want to control our actions, we must control our thinking.” Brethren, fill your minds with good thoughts, and your actions will be proper. May each of you be able to echo in truth the line from Tennyson spoken by Sir Galahad: “My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure.” 7
So how can we avoid a similar crisis of faith??
- Pray. Prayer is the act of bringing the will of the child in line with the will of the Father. (I know I heard this in General Conference, but could not find the quote…I will keep looking.) For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray, ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.(2nd Nephi 32:8) Prayer is basically sharing our thoughts with God. If done regularly and if we are listening, God will eventually share some of His thoughts with us—especially those that affect us and in areas where we need to change.
- Read the scriptures and study the words of the prophets. Reading the scriptures will keep us in tune with the Spirit of the Lord and we will gain insights into how the Lord thinks and feels about specific things.
- Recognize area/ideas where you may not completely agree with a doctrine of the gospel or position of the church. Read what the prophets and the scriptures say about the topic. Pray for understanding and an open heart. If after participating in this process, you still have not reconciled this discrepancy, agree to put the issue ‘on the shelf.’ Recognize that you may not have all of the information on this issue, but having a question does not negate the other truths you already know. Choose to have the faith necessary to be patient and to allow time and learning to possibly bring reconciliation to light. Choose to remain faithful in what you know and exercise your faith that a loving Father in Heaven will eventually bring understanding and light to you in His time.
- If you recognize your consistency in prayer, scripture study, or church attendance has waned, agree to recommit to those behaviors today. Do not wait until tomorrow. Elder Eyring, October 1999:
“And so Satan tempts with procrastination throughout our days of probation. Any choice to delay repentance gives him the chance to steal happiness from one of the spirit children of our Heavenly Father.We have all been tempted with that delay. We know from our own experience that President Spencer W. Kimball was right when he wrote, “One of the most serious human defects in all ages is procrastination,” and then he defined it: “an unwillingness to accept personal responsibility now” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball , 48; emphasis in original). And so Satan works on both our desire to think we have no cause to repent and our desire to push anything unpleasant into the future. He has tempted you and me, and those we love, with thoughts like this: “God is so loving; surely He won’t hold me personally responsible for mistakes which are simply the result of being human.” And then, if that fails, there is the thought that will almost surely come: “Well, I may be responsible to repent, but this is not a good time to start. If I wait, later will be better.”
There are some truths which expose those lies intended to tempt us to procrastinate repentance.”
- Remember that none of us are so strong that we cannot fall. Behaviors begin with thoughts. When we neglect our spiritual duties or do not monitor and change our ‘wrong thinking,’ we leave the door open for our own crisis of faith.
O be wise; what can I say more? (Jacob 6:12)
PS…check out Heather’s five for Friday here