Monday, May 01, 2017

small and simple ways

A few years ago I felt like I needed to improve my everyday practices of faith--things like reading my scriptures, saying my prayers, and attending the temple. I felt like I needed to obtain good habits in those areas so that I would be prepared for more challenging days ahead. It was a prompting that I couldn't shake, and so I started reading my scriptures everyday. I started reading them with my children. I made a better effort at my prayers, and I attended the temple much more regularly.

Because of this prompting, when Elder L. Whitney Clayton said the following in his talk during General Conference, my spirit recognized it as truth: "When we decide to do 'whatsoever [God] saith unto' us, we earnestly commit to align our everyday behavior with God's will. Such simple acts of faith as studying the scriptures daily, fasting regularly, and praying with real intent deepen our well of spiritual capacity to meet the demands of mortality. Over time, simple habits of belief lead to miraculous results. They transform our faith from a seedling into a dynamic power for good in our lives. Then, when challenges come our way, our rootedness in Christ provides steadfastness for our souls. God shores up our weaknesses, increases our joys, and causes 'all things [to] work together for [our] good.'"

I loved Elder Clayton's talk, Whatsoever He Saith unto You, Do It, and wanted to share my favorite bits here for this week's conference report.

In speaking about simple, daily acts of faith, Elder Clayton said, "I have observed that those who are deliberate about doing the 'small and simple things'--obeying in seemingly little ways--are blessed with faith and strength that go far beyond the actual acts of obedience themselves and, in fact, may seem totally unrelated to them. It may seem hard to draw a connection between the basic daily acts of obedience and solutions to the big, complicated problems we face. But they are related. In my experience, getting the little daily habits of faith right is the single best way to fortify ourselves against the troubles of life, whatever they may be. Small acts of faith, even when they seem insignificant or entirely disconnected from the specific problems that vex us, bless us in all we do."

It reminds me of some of my favorite counsel from the Book of Mormon. The book of Alma, chapter 37 tells of the compass, or Liahona, that was given to the prophet Lehi and his people. This compass showed them the way to go as they traveled through the wilderness, but it only worked if they were living righteously and had faith in God. Verse 40 says, "And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day."

It continues, "Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey; Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions. For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land."

And then my favorite part: "And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise."

I know that it is through those small, simple acts that miracles can occur in my own life. I don't want to be lost in the wilderness, hungry and thirsty for direction. I want to find that land of promise, and I believe that I can if I read my scriptures and say my prayers and do all of the other little things that are asked of me.

Elder Clayton said, "Every day, consciously or otherwise, we all choose 'whom [we] will serve.' We demonstrate our determination to serve the Lord by faithfully engaging in daily acts of devotion. The Lord promises to direct our paths, but for Him to do that, we have to walk, trusting that He knows the way because He is 'the way.'"

We have to walk. I want to walk. And I know that when I do--when I engage in those daily acts of devotion--I am showing Him that I am willing to follow Him.

I think I'll always be grateful for that prompting I received a few years ago to be more solid in my gospel habits. I have been through some challenging days since then, but my faith has been strong and my challenges not as daunting as they otherwise might have been. I am not perfect in my devotion. Some days I don't feel like reading my scriptures or saying my prayers. Some days feel too busy to fit these things in, but when I put them first and do them anyway, it's like my days are lengthened and I have time to accomplish all that is required of me. I can see that when my effort is stronger, my life is happier.

You can listen to, watch, or read all of Elder Clayton's talk here.

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