Saturday, February 06, 2010

Seeds of Faith, Seeds of Doubt

I woke up early this morning and had many thoughts swirling about in my brain, and finally decided I wanted to blog them so I can go back to sleep. :) I'm making this a double blog post, putting it on both my religion blog, and my regular blog because I couldn't choose between the two.

This week in seminary, we have been studying the teachings of Alma concerning faith. In chapter 32 he likens faith to a seed. He says, "if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me." (Alma 32:28) Being a terrible gardner, I totally understand how important it is to have a good seed to start with. Countless times I have planted seeds that either weren't good, or I didn't plant them correctly or didnt' nurture them correctly. In order for a seed to grow, it has to have the right conditions. The seed of faith is the same. It can't grow in a person whose soil is full of pride, or sin, or doubt. I like the way Alma describes the growth of the seed as being a swelling in the breast. When I study the gospel, I often have that sort of swelling feeling in my heart that what I'm studying about is true. It really does feel like a swelling in my mind and heart.

As I was thinking this morning about how you can be sure it is a good seed if it starts to grow, it occurred to me that while we are planting our good seeds, Satan is planting seeds of doubt. In the same way that the good seed can swell within us when we nurture it, so too, if we nurture those seeds of doubt, they will also swell and grow within us. Alma warns that if it is not a good seed, we should cast it away.

One thing I have noticed in my attempt to grow good seeds in my garden, is that weeds don't take as much nurture as vegetable plants. I have seen weeds grow out of cracks in the sidewalk where there isn't much soil. If left unattended, they can choke out the good plants, and rob them of nourishment. They can also wind their roots in to the root system of the healthy plants so that you can't pull the one without pulling up the other. The Savior talked about this principle in the parable of the wheat and the tares. The best course of action in building a testimony is to not even let the seeds of doubt grow enough to put down roots.

I was talking with someone this week whose wife has lost her testimony. From what I understand, she read something that cast a doubt in her mind, and she nurtured that doubt until she no longer had the faith to attend church anymore. The impact on her family has been devastating. I also talked with another person whose spouse also lost their testimony, but in this case, I think it was a matter of neglect. It's so easy to lose our faith when we don't do the things that strengthen it. Sabbath observance, prayer and scripture study are to faith, as good soil, water and fertilizer are to a growing plant. They are the very life blood of testimony. If we neglect these three things, our seed of faith can't survive. And even grown plants cannot survive if they are left unattended. None of us are immune to losing our faith if we don't nurture it.

I have allowed the seed of faith to grow up and produce fruit for me. I have tasted the fruit, and I know that this plant is precious. Even though it is a grown plant in me, it still can die if I don't continue to nourish it. It would be a shame to lose this fruit because of simple neglect. It's very easy to neglect our faith. It doesn't take any action on our part at all. All we have to do is NOT do anything. It takes effort to pray. It doesn't take any effort to stop praying. It takes effort to get up for church on Sunday. It takes no effort at all to sleep in. It takes effort to read our scriptures regularly. But it is very easy to just put scripture study off for another day.

My experience is that no matter what we do, or don't do, seeds will still be sown in our minds. If we aren't paying attention, we can allow seeds of doubt to take over. The weeding process is much more difficult than it might seem. I've found weeds in my vegetable garden that I couldn't pull out by hand. I had to use a shovel to get way down deep to the long roots. It took great effort on my part, and in some cases I couldn't get all of the root. The best course of action is to remove the weeds before they get large, and harder to take out.

The fruit of our labor really is worth the work. Alma taught, "42 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.
43 Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you." (Alma 32:42,43)

Seeds are being sown in our minds and hearts. Some of those are being sown by us, and some are being sown by our enemy. Which ones will we allow to grow and flourish?


Nene said...

Good post. My husband and I were just talking about Alma's discourse on Faith the other day, because of a book I'm reading (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith by Bruce R. McConkie. ).

Christina said...

I like this!

BellaLibera said...

I love this post. The reason being is I am constantly faced with those people who would like to plant seeds of all kinds to see how I react. It is a test always and remind myself that each seed is really a blank seed despite their contexts or the intent of the sower ... our actions have the potential to shape and even shift their blossoms' fate — developing them into either a beautiful flower or a poison weed.

I am grateful I found this.

Anonymous said...

After just reading this chapter I wanted to do some extra reading on it. Really liked your blog on this-thank you.