Monday, July 23, 2012

Faith and Fear

As the bus left the terminal in San Rafael and started winding it´s way to Mendoza a million things ran through my head. Like any area, I was a bit sad to leave behind all of the members and investigators I had enjoyed getting to know. Questions of how my new area and companion would be interrupted my thought pattern and finally I began evaluating my transfers in El Cerrito. I thought about when I first got there and how my companion told me that "the people don´t want to listen to us." I thought about training my new companion and his attitute of "we´re going to teach everyone." And finally I thought about the diference in success that I had in those transfers, and what made the difference. Was it the people? I don´t think so... What we taught? No... Then what? I started asking myself, "in what way does our perspective (aka our faith or doubt) affect our reality?". I think often what we hope is going to happen, or what we fear is going to happen, will happen. In Alma 57 we find the story of the 2000 stripling warriors, kids my age or less who were about to fight a bunch of giantly manly men to perserve their liberty and freedom. They were taught by their moms that if they had faith in God and didn´t doubt, then God would perserve and protect them. That´s a really interesting promise for me. If they trusted in God, he would protect them--so what they believed would happen, would happen--but if they started to doubt, if they started to think "maybe God won´t protect me" then they didn´t have the promise, and maybe one of them would have died. But, they kept their faith and were perserved by God--not one of them died. Their faith brought about what they had hoped for. I remember one time dad told me a story about a group of people that feared the government. I have no idea if they story is true or not but It goes something like this: the people though they government was going to take away their freedom, so because of their fear they went and bought a large amount of illegal weapons. So even though the government really didn´t care about them before, once they found out a group of people was buying illegal weapons they starting caring a little more. And in they end they "took away their freedom" (aka they went to jail for owning those weapons) and basically everything this group of people fear was going to happen--happened. In Matthew 14:25-31 we find the story of when Jesus walks on water. At first his disciples are afraid but Jesus tells them, "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid." Then Peter gets a little courageous and says, "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water." I think he just wanted to try walking on water as well haha. Jesus tells him to come and then "when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus." Woah! I mean we can believe that Jesus walked on water because he was the Son of God, but Peter? An ordinary man? What faith, no? But, the winds were strong and "he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, say, Lord, save me." In the moment he began to fear in the very moment he began to doubt, he began to sink. His fear brought about the very thing he fear. Verse 31 states, "And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and unto him, O though of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" It´s not always easy to have a positive perspective or to always have the greatest faith. We all have our own "strong winds". We all have our own trials and we all begin to doubt or fear at least a little bit. But it´s comforting for me to know that the Savior will always be there to "stretch forth his hand" and catch us. A father once went to Jesus so that he healed his son who had a "foul spirit". Jesus tells the father, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth" (that´s a pretty awesome promise by the way) to which the father cries out, "I believe". If any of you have seen the movie How To Find Faith In Christ when the father says that Jesus kinds gives him a look as if asking, "Are you sure?" and then the father responds, "help thou mine unbelief." Even though this man might not have had the sufficient faith, at least he recognized he could call upon divinity to help him. Frequently we talk with people who are trying to gain a testimony about the Book of Mormon or about the church in general and if have to help them get to this point. We have to help them muster up enough faith to at least believe that God can help them gain the faith they need. James states, "If any of lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." (James 1:5-6). We find a similar promise in the Book of Mormon. If we ask in doubt, or if we ask without the intention to follow the answer we receive, we don´t have the promise, and it´s probable our doubts are going to bring about what we doubted. If we don´t think we´ll recieve an answer, we won´t, and if we believe we´ll recieve an answer, we will. It´s actually all pretty simple. I think the difference in the success we had in El Cerrito basically all stemmed from this idea. In my first transfer I think it would safe to say my mentality was something like, "God could do it, but I don´t think he will." Sometimes we think like that don´t we? "God could work a miracle with my friend, but I kinda doubt it´ll happen." Of course if we think like that we´re not going to see his blessing in our lives, our faith doesn´t deserve it. But, "Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall power to do whatsoever thing..." (Moroni 7:33). With all the love of a little hill, Elder Lounsbury

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