My greatest fear in life is fire. My childhood friend was a burn victim. One of her siblings lit a match in the backseat of the family car when their mother was locking up the house to go somewhere. The car doors were locked, and by the time her mother was able to get to her, she was severely burned. She was burned from her nose to below her knees. I watched helplessly as she endured countless surgeries every spring break and every Christmas vacation for years. I remember in our senior year of high school how excited she was that she finally had a chin! I loved her dearly! Knowing her, however, left me with a great respect for (and fear of) fire.
In my personal scripture study, I was reading about the prophet Abinadi in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 17:1-20). He was burned by fire as a martyr because he wouldn’t deny Christ. Every time I read this story, it makes me wonder just how much faith I have. In light of the sacred covenants I have made in the temple of our God, could I do what Abinadi did? Would I endure the flames, or would I cave? Would I walk the walk or simply talk the talk?
I know what I hope I would do. I’m not sure any of us knows exactly how we will react in certain situations, but we have hope that we will walk the walk. However, if we aren’t 100 percent sure, then we owe it to ourselves to keep working on our faith. We need to be so strong that nothing can break our resolve.
Alma tells us in the Book of Mormon that we can exercise the particle of faith that we do have in order to make our faith grow. (Alma 32:26-43) We often think about having faith—as if we either have it or we don’t. We aren’t born with faith; we develop it. Regardless of what the dictionary says, faith is a verb; not a noun. It is the action behind belief. It requires action to develop, to build, and to keep.
When life gets hard, we need to exercise that tiny particle of faith we have so it becomes stronger. I don’t think there is anything wrong with telling Heavenly Father in a prayer that you are not sure of your faith. The best prayers are honest prayers. There have been times when I’ve told Heavenly Father than I’m not sure about anything anymore, but I am trusting that He is there and that He has a plan for me. I’ve exercised just that particle of faith to say the prayer with hope that everything I’ve been taught is true. Those are the prayers that are cleansing. Those are the times when the Holy Ghost truly envelopes me, and I can feel Christ’s love for me. Those are the times when I really talk to my Heavenly Father and can feel Him listening. Those are the prayers that build and strengthen my faith.
Walking the walk is a day-to-day thing. It is a lifetime of practice. If I want to be an Abinadi, I must exercise my faith daily—sometimes minute to minute. I can practice exercising faith each time I go to the grocery store. Will I add a can or two to my food storage or buy the ice cream? I can practice when I go for a walk in the park. Will I smile and say hello to others in the park, or will I keep my head down and pretend not to see them? I can practice on payday. Will I add a little extra in my tithing and fast offerings? Will I donate to the humanitarian aid fund? Or will I blow a little extra on fast food? I can exercise faith by choosing the media and music that comes into my home. I can exercise faith by accepting the calling I don’t really want or by following a directive from the bishop when I don’t necessarily agree.
I’m not an Abinadi—yet. I don’t even know if I have enough years in my life left to become an Abinadi. That doesn’t (nor should it) stop me from trying. I don’t know what is in store for the rest of my life, as life is always a surprise—for good or bad. All I can do is to buckle my seatbelt, lock the door, and hope the car doesn’t roll over the cliff. Preparation is the key. If I don’t buckle up and lock the door, I’ll surely be thrown from the car. Likewise, when it’s time to be like Abinadi, I’ll need to be equally prepared by living the commandments and keeping my covenants daily. Then, if I burn, I can say to my Heavenly Father, “I walked the walk.”
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.