I’m serving in the Young Women’s these days. One of the things that our YW president asked us (leaders) to do is participate in the Personal Progress program. I was fortunate to be able to do personal progress when I was in young women’s, and I think that it will be good to get reacquainted with it by fulfilling the goal.
Yesterday, I decided to start with the first Value Experience for Faith:
“1. Learn about faith from the scriptures and living prophets. Read Hebrews 11, Alma 32:17–42, Ether 12:6–22, and Joseph Smith—History 1:11–20. Read two general conference talks on faith. Exercise your own faith by establishing a habit of prayer in your life. Begin by saying your morning and evening prayers regularly. After three weeks of following this pattern, discuss with a parent or leader what you have learned about faith and daily personal prayer. In your journal express your feelings about faith and prayer.
So, I am doing a few parts of the scripture reading at a time.
I love this chapter of scripture. I have always loved the following verse:
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” – Hebrews 11:13
This scripture is such a source of inspiration. Of course, right now, I feel incredibly blessed. I have had the opportunity to marry a man I truly love. I have the three most beautiful girls. T and B were already super awesome daughters. I’m so happy to have added C to the equation of my life. I feel like I haven’t had to wait, but I’ve been blessed to have received so many blessings now.
I also want to share another verse that really struck me:
“God having provided some better things for them through their sufferings, for without sufferings they could not be made perfect.” – Hebrews 11:40 (see the Joseph Smith Translation in the footnote)
Our suffering is a trial of our Faith. Our faith must be tried in order for it to be strong enough to exercise in the atonement – then we receive perfection through Christ’s infinite grace.
This can be scary – suffering! However:
- It is necessary
- We will suffer regardless of our strength or lack of faith – (so we might as well have faith)
- It is our shield
- It anchors our hope in Christ – who will help us overcome every struggle
This is the classic object lesson/analogy – faith and the seed. Often, I think of the first part of the analogy – the initial planting. Faith is exercised, and then the seed sprouts into a plant. I’ve done this in my life many times – I’ve exercised faith, and then I’ve seen the “seed” sprout. It is always exciting to start something good, hope it works, then see it is working! The plant is sprouting! SUCCESS!
I realize that I often get so overcome with the happiness (and novelty) of the initial sprouting that I tend to get a little proud. The sprout grows, but it isn’t as dramatic; I grow bored. I forget to work as hard as I did in the beginning -when I could see no sprout. I lose discipline and diligence and the plant suffers – it may even die.
Alma, in his lesson, teaches how to overcome this tendency. He teaches:
“And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.
But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.
And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.” – Alma 32:40-42
Alma teaches that we need to constantly nourish the plant – rather than let our grounds go barren.
Here’s what I can take from the lesson:
- Have an eye of faith. Visualize the end result. Don’t get bogged down on the current status. Even if the status quo is good, continue to see what it will become.
- Nourish it. Continue to provide the environment for this faith to develop.
- Be Diligent. To see the seed reach its full potential as a fruitful plant, then it will require my continued sacrifice and (often monotonous) work.
- Be Patient. I was surprised by this advice from Alma. I often don’t recognize the patience that faith requires – even though I have experienced it! In fact, I usually get irritated by the need to be patient. Instead, I need to be patient by looking forward and by being grateful. This will inspire continued nourishment and diligence rather than discouragement, boredom, and frustration.
I was so happy to read these scriptures, it is so exciting as they go along with the fact that I’m focusing on diligence this year. Yay for scriptures and personal revelation!