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24 March 2017

#PrinceOfPeace: Faith

Part of me is amazed that faith -which by definition is not yet knowing and not yet seeing- can be as powerful as it is. But it is. Faith gives us hope, and hope is the anchor that allows us to weather the storms that life throws at us. I love the image of hope as an anchor, rather than as the flimsy butterfly that it's so often depicted as: hope has substance. Faith has power.

In this, as in all else, Christ is our example, having started as a tiny baby, and then in process of time increasing in wisdom and stature,  as He "received not of the fullness at first, but received grace for grace (D&C 93:12)." We can be like Him: we can grow, taking strength from one experience to assist us in the next challenge, each one teaching us, helping us to trust Him more.

He tells us:

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meant in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.
-Malachi 3:10-12

My parents taught me the importance of tithing when I was a kid. It became an automatic thing, just what you do, and I seldom think about it anymore, other than when I realize that I'm seeing the blessings -- and I do. The blessings are real. Cupboards too full to hold it all, even when we feel that times are lean. Shoes and cars and clothes and appliances that last and last, well beyond their usual life span. Boxes of hand-me-downs have shown up providentially, just when we needed them, with more in them than we could use. If you are looking, the blessings of tithing are huge, and exactly what the scripture says. They show up quietly, unannounced. This time they come this way, another time they take another form. Easy to overlook if you aren't paying attention. I'm so glad that my parents taught me to pay my tithing.

I've come to understand that the faith necessary to pay tithing  is the same faith needed to trust God on any point. To trust that, though I do not see, He does. Though I do not understand yet, He does -- and He will teach me, if I'll just trust until the time is right. Though I can't see the path, He not only knows it, but He has prepared it for me, with just what I really need, even if that's not always what I think I need, or what I want. Christ teaches us to live in a way that brings us happiness and real joy; faith in Him is where it all begins. Tithing becomes the training wheels for our faith; it helps us to catch our balance, and helps us to grow toward the time when:

... we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children... But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.
-Ephesians 4:13-15

Faith then becomes the foundation of all righteousness, because it's the thing that moves us to action. Action is a critical component of faith; it's what allows faith to grow: we make the experiment on the Word, and because God is faithful, the sincere experiment can only result in proving Him -- which strengthens our faith.

But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward tot he fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life. And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.
-Alma 32:41-42

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