I was recently talking with a family member about faith. We were questioning the amount of faith we had, because when compared with the faith the pioneers exhibited, we found our faith to be lacking.
When reading about the sacrifice and faith of past ancestors and stories from the scriptures, I wonder if I could have made the same choices these faithful saints had made. My great grandmother in Sweden was given the choice of continuing her allegiance to her new found Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) or remain a member of the Lutheran Church- the state Church. This was the ultimatum given by the Lutheran priest in her town. If she would not denounce her new faith she would be forced to give up her two foster daughters, ages 7 and 5 (which she had reared since birth). She chose to remain faithful to her new religion, but suffered deeply over the loss of her two foster daughters. My grandmother, who was a child (5) at this time, did not even know her sisters were not her real sisters. Eventually my great grandmother and her family emigrated to Utah to be with the Saints (when my grandmother was a teenager).
Many times in my life I have thanked this great grandmother for her example of faith. But could I have made that same choice? As a young mother, and now an older mother and grandmother, I wonder if I would have enough faith to give up someone I loved so much?
When reading the scriptures, I often ponder over the martyrdom of the prophets and think, "Well, of course they had enough faith in God to die for His name, they were prophets." But then I read about the men, women and children who would not deny their faith in Christ and were burned while Alma and Amulek had to watch. (Alma 14 : 8-10, Book of Mormon) Would I have enough faith to endure this horror?
I wonder about the Bible story when Daniel was told not to pray openly to his God but did anyway. He was thrown in the lion's den but preserved by the hand of God. (Daniel 6) Yet when Alma, the younger, and his people were told not to pray, they obeyed and did not pray openly, but poured out their hearts to God in secret prayer. They too, were eventually delivered by the hand of God, (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 24). So it seems to me that the Lord accepts different ways of showing faith, depending on the circumstances.
How deep is MY faith? Can I sacrifice really hard things if I am asked to? As I have pondered these two questions over the years, I think I have finally come to this conclusion:
**I’m not asked to show the kind of faith shown by the pioneers or people in the scriptures.
**I can’t compare my life situation to theirs. We live in totally difference circumstances that require different living conditions and commitments.
**I don’t understand the world they lived in with the attitudes and conditions of their times, or the historical context of their living situations. And that is not a lame excuse, saying, "I don’t understand their times." It is a fact. It is a fact that life was different. People thought differently, did different things to survive and thrive, and so they reacted differently and made choices differently compared to how we live today.
I decided to make a list of how I was showing faith, right now in my life. Sorry--it's kind of personal so feel free to quit reading.......
How I am exercising FAITH right now:
**I am striving to endure to the end by giving SERVICE, and have faith this will make a difference in my eternal progression. Currently I am a service missionary teaching ESL at the Somali Center in Phoenix two mornings a week and additionally creating tutoring lessons.
**I have faith that Ed is serving a mission (for the rest of my lifetime), and still helping our family and me. Hey, I'm like the pioneers in some ways for this is the same sacrifice some of the women had to make when their husbands died or served missions for an extended period of time.
**I have faith my piano and ukulele teaching will help children and families by giving them the gift of music
**I have faith that my performing at retirement homes through music will help enrich a senior’s life
**I have faith that going to the temple every week will help my relatives make covenants so they can progress in the next life
**I have faith that exercising and eating nutritional food will help me to be healthy as I grow older
**I have faith that getting out of my comfort zone by flying to my out-of-state children's homes to babysit grandchildren will build a strong relationship with them in the future
**I have faith that reading my scriptures, conference talks, Come Follow Me, listening to BYU speeches, and other uplifting reading daily, will increase my spirituality and help me stay virtuous
**I have faith that learning to play the banjo and mandolin, knitting, and making art will help my creative abilities and be an advantage in the next life
**I have faith that I was inspired to start a blog and write my thoughts down so I could help someone else who is reading them
So that is how I am showing faith right now in my life. I'm not walking across a prairie or freezing in the mountains with no food or help in sight. But the pioneers did not walk their whole entire lives--which sometimes I find myself thinking they did. No, that was but a short period of time in their lives. Then they settled in towns, building homes, raising children, living their faith through their daily commitments.
And that is what I am trying to do!
Thanks for reading,