On faith: Part 3 - Freedom

And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever ... to act for themselves and not to be acted upon.

There is something about summer nights. The stars reach out forever, a soft breeze evokes memories of childhood, and you engage in the most amazing conversations against a backdrop of chirping crickets.

Late one such night, I wandered the streets of our sleepy college town with a trusted friend, sharing with him some of my most private and difficult personal challenges.

I confided in him that only a few months earlier, I had considered abandoning my faith and leaving the church in which I had actively participated from the time I was eight years old. Interestingly, my friend told me he had found himself in a similar situation.

"So why did you stay?" I asked. "Why did you keep believing when you had no reason to?" 

In his own words: "I chose faith because I realized the decision was mine to make. Either I was going to choose to believe or I was going to choose to not believe. There was no evidence either way that was 'proof' to me that God either existed or he didn't. Once I got that mindset, instead of just a 'but there isn't proof God exists' mindset, I remembered all of the tiny experiences from my past where a scripture touched me or I felt a prompting or I prayed about the Book of Mormon. All of those tiny occurrences started to form into a small but burning flame of testimony. The realization for me was 'I have to let myself believe.'

"That is the decision that I have every day. Sometimes it is a very conscious choice, sometimes the habits I've formed help carry me along, but God never intended to force a faith on me that I wasn't willing to accept."

My friend was right. God will never force someone to believe in him. And neither should we. True faith is spread by gentle invitation, and it is accepted by those who choose to do so because they want to do it.
by Tyler Smith


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