A recent speaker at stake conference told a story of a person who said, “I have faith, but what if it doesn’t work?”
When it comes to faith, I think that too often we are focused on the wrong thing and find ourselves stuck.
Faith fails if focused on the task itself. We somehow calculate the perceived difficulty of the task and assume that easy tasks require a little faith and great tasks require great faith.
Something seemingly impossible will stay that way if we think that we cannot ‘generate’ the faith sufficient for the task.
I think that this is looking at it all wrong. Let’s take a look at what Nephi said:
If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should say to me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth, and if I should say it, it would be done.1 Nephi 17:50
Turning a boundless ocean to earth by uttering the words “be thou earth” seems impossible, but only if your focus is the task itself.
Note where Nephi’s faith was, it wasn’t in whether or not the task was possible or how ‘easy’ or ‘hard’ such a thing might be. His first principle was this: “If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them.”
[God] desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe, yea, even on his word.Alma 32:22
Faith is measured by one’s trust in God and one’s trust in God is a reflection of one’s experience with and understanding of God’s character and attributes.
In mortality, we are so used to being let down by mortals and mortal circumstances. This is a fallen world and we view reality through a fallen lens. Building perfect faith requires a perfect foundation upon which to rest.
For without the idea that he was a God of truth and could not lie, the confidence necessary to be placed in his word in order to the exercise of faith in him, could not exist. But having the idea that he is not man that he can lie, it gives power to the minds of men to exercise faith in him.Lecture 5:22
We cannot rely on our own strength, our own knowledge of what is or is not possible, or the knowledge of other fallen mortals when it comes to developing perfect faith.
The idea of God’s trustworthiness gives power to the mind to act in a manner that draws them nearer to God.
When men begin to live by faith, they begin to draw near to God…Lecture 7:8
There is no substitute; one must commune with God personally, prove his word in their own lives, and come to know that he is worthy of our faith. It is only then, like Nephi, that we can put our complete faith in his word and do all things, no matter what they may be.
Ponder this exchange between the Lord and the brother of Jared:
And the Lord said unto him: Believest thou the words which I shall speak?
And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.
And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.Ether 3:11-13
The Lord asked the brother of Jared if he believed words that the Lord had not even spoken yet.
If someone asked us if we would believe something we had not told them, they might tell us that it would depend on what they had to say; we would want to hear it before we decided if we believe it or not.
Our faith would rest on the trustworthiness of the person and the believability of what they had to tell us.
But the brother of Jared did not seem concerned at all at what the Lord might say. He knew that he was speaking to a being that was incapable of lying so it didn’t matter what that being said, it would be true.
This knowledge brought this individual into the presence of God to behold things that perhaps no other mortal on earth has beheld. All because of his knowledge that God could not lie, and could be completely trusted.
There is a reason that we know these things about the brother of Jared and understand these keys. The Lord said:
And in that day that [the Gentiles] shall exercise faith in me, saith the Lord, even as the brother of Jared did, that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw, even to the unfolding unto them all my revelations, saith Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are.Ether 4:7
There is nothing stopping us from having the kind of faith that can do all things. All we need is to know certain things about God and he has shown us the path.
The challenge is to not be blinded by the mists of darkness and distracted by the noise of the great and spacious building. We must press forward to the tree of life and partake of that fruit.
When we come to know God and put our trust in him, our faith can be perfect.