Friday, January 21, 2011

Faith – The Choice is Yours

(find the talk here)

“Let us choose faith.”


Bishop Richard C. Edgley’s talk is one I probably needed to hear in high school. I was one of only a handful of LDS students in my high school, and my beliefs were constantly being attacked and ridiculed. Even in the good ole South, Christian views were attacked – mostly by rebellious teens who had nothing better to do than tear down others.

It was hard to stay strong – but the choice I made was faith. I just wish I had known how to say that to my friends who labeled me as being ignorant or misinformed. “I choose faith,” I should have said. “In spite of all the secular education I have received, I choose faith.” I am not ignorant or misinformed. I studied Math and Physics in college. I love to read anything and everything I can get my hands on. I love to understand the world around me in scientific and secular terms.

But I join with Bishop Edgley in saying, “I do not know why my beliefs sometimes conflict with assumed scientific or secular knowledge... But while I don’t know everything, I know the important. I know the plain and simple gospel truths that lead to salvation and exaltation... And what I don’t know or don’t completely understand, with the powerful aid of my faith, I bridge the gap and move on, partaking of the promises and blessings of the gospel.”

Bishop Edgley reminds us that “faith is a choice” and that we are responsibly for our faith, and similarly, for our lack of faith. Faith doesn’t just happen to us. It has to be worked at.

One of my favorite scriptures is Alma’s discourse on faith in Alma Chapter 32, in particular, this passage: “But behold if ye will ... exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe...” (emphasis added). Alma reminds us that it’s okay if we don’t have faith – it’s even okay if we are having a hard time believing. He says all we have to do is desire to believe. Which is completely a choice.

I also love this part of Bishop Edgley’s talk:

  • If confusion and hopelessness weigh on your mind, choose to “awake and arouse your faculties” (Alma 32:27). Humbly approaching the Lord with a broken heart and contrite spirit is the pathway to truth and the Lord’s way of light, knowledge, and peace.
  • If your testimony is immature, untested, and insecure, choose to “exercise [even] a particle of faith”; choose to “experiment upon [His] words” (Alma 32:27). The Savior explained, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17).
  • When logic, reason, or personal intellect come into conflict with sacred teachings and doctrine, or conflicting messages assault your beliefs as the fiery darts described by the Apostle Paul (see Ephesians 6:16), choose to not cast the seed out of your heart by unbelief. Remember, we receive not a witness until after the trial of our faith (seeEther 12:6).
  • If your faith is proven and mature, choose to nurture it “with great care” (Alma 32:37). As strong as our faith is, with all the mixed messages attacking it, it can also become very fragile. It needs constant nourishment through continued scripture study, prayer, and the application of His word.

Bishop Edgley addresses really every argument against faith.

I know that faith is a choice, and I know that I chose faith. When my peers mocked me and ridiculed me, still I chose faith, and I will continually choose faith. It is a choice. It is not being ignorant or misinformed – it is a choice to believe in something bigger, better, and more beautiful that you or I.

Let us “[c]hoose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and the unseen, and choose faith over pessimism.”

How has your faith been challenged? What conscious efforts to you make to continually choose faith? Do you open your heart to the spirit? Do you “desire to believe”? What testimony have you received because you chose faith?

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