Monday, April 20, 2015

I choose to believe.

This week's Conference report comes from Elder L. Whitney Clayton. He teaches us that belief is a choice and it requires action. He says, "The decision to believe is the most important choice we ever make. It shapes all our other decisions."

But I am getting ahead of myself. First, Elder Clayton starts with the story of a young girl, Sailor, who was traveling with her family in a small plane. The plane crashed and she was left alone, the only survivor. It was a cold and rainy night and she was ill prepared. Wearing only a t-shirt, shorts, and one sock, and with injuries sustained in the crash, she left the scene of the accident to find help. As she made her way through the rough countryside, she came to the top of a small hill and saw a light in the distance. She went toward that light and eventually came to a house and the help she so desperately needed.

Elder Clayton says, "Sailor survived because she saw a light in the distance and fought her way to it-- notwithstanding the wild countryside, the depth of the tragedy she faced, and the injuries she sustained. It is hard to imagine how Sailor managed to do what she did that night. But what we do know is that she recognized in the light of that distant house a chance for rescue. There was hope. She took courage in the fact that no matter how bad things were, her rescue would be found in that light."

He continues, "Few of us will ever endure an experience as harrowing as Sailor's. But all of us will, at some time or another, have to traverse our own spiritual wilderness and undertake our own rugged emotional journeys. In those moments, however dark or seemingly hopeless they may be, if we search for it, there will always be a spiritual light that beckons to us, giving us the hope of rescue and relief. That light shines form the Savior of all mankind, who is the Light of the World."

The light is there, waiting for us, always. But we have to choose to see it. Elder Clayton asks this question: "Every day each of us faces a test. It is the test of our lifetimes: will we choose to believe in Him and allow the light of His gospel to grow within us, or will we refuse to believe and insist on traveling alone in the dark?"

Just like Sailor, who could have chosen to stay by the airplane, alone and afraid, we can choose to face the difficult parts of our lives by ourselves. We can succumb to the darkness, hopeless. Sometimes that might seem easier. But I know there is a better way! We can choose to seek the light. We can be like Sailor and travel towards it, even when it requires maneuvering through difficult terrain. Or we can be like the wise men in the photo above and follow the star, even when following requires moving over great distances and spaces of time.

As Sailor made her way toward the light, it grew brighter. But there must have been times during her journey where she could not see it. Maybe it was behind a tree, or over a ridge, but she pressed on. Elder Clayton says, "Whenever she could see the light, Sailor had evidence that she was on the right path. She did not yet know precisely what that light was, but she kept walking toward it based on what she knew, trusting and hoping that she would see it again if she kept moving in the right direction." He says that our lives can be like that, too. I know that mine has. There have been times when I felt lost and I wasn't sure where to go. But like Sailor, I pressed on, doing the things I had been taught all my life would bring me closer to the light, and eventually it appeared again on the horizon.

God does not force us to believe. He invites us to believe. He sends prophets to teach us. He sends His spirit to beckon us. But we must choose for ourselves whether or not we will listen and follow. I loved when he said, "We will not accidentally come to believe in the Savior and His gospel any more than we will accidentally pray or pay tithing. We actively choose to believe, just like we choose to keep other commandments."

So once we have decided to believe, we have to put that belief into action, meaning we pray and read the scriptures. We fast and pay our tithing. We keep the Sabbath day holy and attend the temple. We repent and seek forgiveness. In short, we will find that saving light only when we do those things that we know we should be doing, and when we do them with the correct attitude. Elder Clayton admits that sometimes this is difficult. He says, "Sometimes progress in spiritual things can seem slow or intermittent. Sometimes we may feel that we have lost ground, that we have made mistakes, or that our best efforts to find the Savior are not working. If you feel this way, please do not give up-- ever. Go right on believing in Him and in His gospel and His Church. Align your actions with that belief. In those moments when the light of your faith has dimmed, let your hope for the Savior's love and grace, found in His gospel and His Church, overcome your doubt."

Read, listen to, or watch the full talk here.


  1. I've been on a dark journey myself and reading this was so encouraging. I just need to believe there is hope for my future. And keep pressing on. Thank you.

  2. beauty! thanks!
    "Each new day is an opportunity to bind ourselves to act according to what we know." jo jepsen


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