In each of us is an invincible summer

In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.

Albert Camus, as translated in Lyrical and Critical Essays (1968), p. 169.

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What is faith?

“The just shall live by faith,” we are told in holy writ. I ask again, What is faith?

Faith exists when absolute confidence in that which we cannot see combines with action that is in absolute conformity to the will of our Heavenly Father. Without all three—first, absolute confidence; second, action; and third, absolute conformity—without these three all we have is a counterfeit, a weak and watered-down faith.

Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Shall He Find Faith on the Earth?“, October General Conference, 2002

This is a season to be strong

Now, my brethren and sisters, the time has come for us to stand a little taller, to lift our eyes and stretch our minds to a greater comprehension and understanding of the grand millennial mission of this The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a season to be strong. It is a time to move forward without hesitation, knowing well the meaning, the breadth, and the importance of our mission. It is a time to do what is right regardless of the consequences that might follow. It is a time to be found keeping the commandments. It is a season to reach out with kindness and love to those in distress and to those who are wandering in darkness and pain. It is a time to be considerate and good, decent and courteous toward one another in all of our relationships. In other words, to become more Christlike.

We have nothing to fear. God is at the helm. He will overrule for the good of this work. He will shower down blessings upon those who walk in obedience to His commandments. Such has been His promise. Of His ability to keep that promise none of us can doubt.

Gordon B. Hinckley, “This Is the Work of the Master,Ensign, May 1995

Reservoirs of faith

There are in our lives reservoirs of many kinds. Some reservoirs are to store water. Some are to store food, as we do in our family welfare program and as Joseph did in the land of Egypt during the seven years of plenty. There should also be reservoirs of knowledge to meet the future needs; reservoirs of courage to overcome the floods of fear that put uncertainty in lives; reservoirs of physical strength to help us meet the frequent burdens of work and illness; reservoirs of goodness; reservoirs of stamina; reservoirs of faith. Yes, especially reservoirs of faith so that when the world presses in upon us, we stand firm and strong; when the temptations of a decaying world about us draw on our energies, sap our spiritual vitality, and seek to pull us down, we need a storage of faith that can carry youth and later adults over the dull, the difficult, the terrifying moments, disappointments, disillusionments, and years of adversity, want, confusion, and frustration. . . .

Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle (1972), pp. 110–11, or, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, Chapter 19: Strengthening our Families

Raising the bar

As the challenges around us increase, we must commit to do more to qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Casual prayer won’t be enough. Reading a few verses of the scripture won’t be enough. Doing the minimum of what the Lord asks of us won’t be enough. Hoping that we will have the Atonement work in our lives and that we will perhaps sometimes feel the influence of the Holy Ghost won’t be enough. And one great burst of effort won’t be enough.

Only a steady, ever-increasing effort will allow the Lord to take us to higher ground. I know what some of you are tempted to think: “I’ll have to be careful not to set the bar for myself too high. I wouldn’t want to fail and be disappointed.”

I did a little high-jumping over a bar in high school and in college. I know what it is like to be running toward the bar and see that it is higher than when you jumped last and that you are now looking way up at the bar. Some of you have been high-jumpers so that you know that it is very different when you come toward it so that you can look over it. I know what happens when you look up at that bar. You think, “That bar is over my head. Is it physically possible to put my whole body over a bar above my head?” As I look back, remember I was a physics student, I realized that I must have decided that some law of physics limited me. Well, the laws of physics did apply, but the limits were more in my mind than in reality. When I now see junior high school students, some of them girls, jumping higher than my best, I wish that I were young again. I’d set my expectations higher. More was possible than I thought, and more is possible spiritually for you and for me. And more is necessary. Set the bar a little higher for yourself. And then set it a little higher. In spiritual things you have a heavenly power lifting you beyond where you are now. The Lord promises that unending rise in his own voice in the Doctrine and Covenants: “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:24).

You can set the bar higher for yourself to get more power of faith to pray for the gift of the Holy Ghost. You can set it higher for yourself to have the scriptures opened so that you will come to know the Savior’s voice. You can set it higher for yourself to be obedient in the things He asks of you. And you can set the bar higher in your expectation for peace in this life and your hope, even your assurance of eternal life in the world to come. You can set your expectations for yourself a little higher and then a little higher, with confidence that a loving Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son will send you the Holy Ghost and lift you higher and higher, toward Them.

Henry B. Eyring, “Raise the Bar,” Brigham Young University–Idaho Devotional, January 25, 2005

Then shall greater things be manifest

Reflecting on what I wrote yesterday, it is clear that growth in spiritual knowledge – knowing the mysteries, the “greater things,” – is conditioned not only on our heart, but also on the exercise of our faith in that which we have already received:

And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things

then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.

And if it so be that they will not believe these things,

then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation. (3 Nephi 26: 9-10)

Jesus taught this principle in Matthew 13. He told the disciples, “it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (see the prior post), but to them it is not given.” He spoke in parables so as to hide from those who had no faith the treasures of His gospel. To those who understood because their hearts were open, “to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”

Put simply, the more you believe, the more you will know.

In many ways, the trial of our faith is whether or not we will heed the instructions and revelations we have received into order that we might continue to receive the Lord’s guidance and help for that which lies ahead.

Things will work out

 “It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don’t worry. I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out. If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. … If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers.”

“Latter-day Counsel: Excerpts from Addresses of President Gordon B. Hinckley,” Ensign, Oct. 2000, 73.