Once upon a time, I went to a youth conference with my church group (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). We were going to reenact a pioneer trek, but we would be allowed some modern amenities including toothbrushes/toothpaste, sunscreen, and water bottles. But, we weren’t allowed normal clothes (except tennis shoes and under stuffs); so we ladies donned our bonnets and skirts, and the gentlemen their trousers and hats. The trek was particularly challenging for me because at the time I was recovering from a sprained ankle.
Before the conference got rockin’ and rollin’, I was to give a speech around our theme for the whole conference which was taken from the Book of Mormon: “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). I focused a lot on how we individually have different amounts of work we can do. My sprained ankle gave me a perfect example—all I could do was not equal to all that my trek family could do because of my injury. But, the good news is that we are just required to do all we can, on an individual basis.
Recently I examined this scripture again with verse 25: “For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments.” I saw an extraordinary parallel between the bolded parts of these verses. Being made alive is one way to say saved. Christ’s Atonement gives us the mercy and grace we need to live with our Heavenly Father again. That leaves for the final point of parallel that faith is all we can do. That’s the bridge I hadn’t seen before. “Faith . . . is more than belief, since true faith always moves its possessor to some kind of physical and mental action” (Bible Dictionary, “Faith”). Faith is a principle comprising two parts: belief or hope and action.
I don’t believe that it is a coincidence that there are so many action words in the scriptures, especially considering that faith inherently includes action. I specifically want to consider the action of walking in the scriptures for this discussion. Jesus Christ would raise the dead telling them to arise and walk (Matthew 9:5-7, Mark 5:42). We are told to walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8). Paul stated, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). If we walk by faith, we have a hope that whatever we’re walking away from is not as good as what we’re walking towards. The action is each step we take. Jesus Christ walked on water, an impossible feat for mortal, fallible, and faithless men.
Walking by faith is often difficult. I have found that it means a lot of sacrifice. Remember the parable of the pearl necklace? A little girl saved all her money from a summer of working and finally had enough to buy a dime-store plastic pearl necklace. She loved that necklace and wore it everywhere. One night, as her father was tucking her in bed, he asked her for her pearl necklace. She said no, but offered him her favorite toy instead. He said he didn’t want the toy, just the necklace. He then said goodnight and that he loved her. The next night, a similar exchange took place. And a third night, same thing. The fourth night, though, when her father came in, the little girl was crying. She wordlessly handed him the necklace. The father reached into his pocket and presented her with a real pearl necklace. The moral of the story is that our Heavenly Father asks us to sacrifice our dime-store things so we have room to receive eternal things. Sometimes the dime-store sacrifice that He asks of us is curiosity. Sometimes it’s friendships. Sacrifice can mean taking “no” for an answer, or taking “yes” for an answer. It might mean you need to break up with someone, or it might mean that you need to sacrifice your fear and trust another person. Your sacrifices are individual and very personal. What God asks you to sacrifice, though, will always be insignificant to the glorious reward that He has in store for you.
In a talk about walking by faith, a member of the Church whose name I have regretfully forgotten suggested that we should walk by faith and run expecting miracles. I’ve loved that idea, but I haven’t ever studied it thoroughly. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “Revelation almost always comes in response to a question, usually an urgent question—not always, but usually. . . . Moses’ challenge was how to get himself and the children of Israel out of this horrible predicament they were in. There were chariots behind them, sand dunes on every side, and just a lot of water immediately ahead.” When we walk by faith, we sometimes get into situations that require us to walk a little faster, or run, and fully trust in the Lord’s guidance for us. Moses ran to the Red Sea expecting a miracle, but it wasn’t until he was touching the shoreline that the water parted. Moses was able to run expecting a miracle, though, because of his spiritual preparation including much sacrifice. He sacrificed his safety and his selfishness. He sacrificed his will to the Lord, offering instead a broken heart and contrite spirit. Because of that, Moses was able to do the impossible—instead of walking on water, he and the children of Israel ran on dry ground across the sea. Moses had the faith to participate in a miracle: he had the belief that “[Satan] cannot conquer if we will it otherwise” and acted upon it, sacrificing in preparation and he ran expecting a miracle.
Sometimes it takes being backed up to the Red Sea with an Egyptian army chasing you down wanting your blood before the fruits of your sacrifice are manifested. But believe you me, God will part your Red Seas. I would like to recommend two important concepts to remember when considering your ability and your chance to run expecting a miracle.
First, remember that though we are expected to run sometimes, we are not expected to do more than we are able. “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). Everyone can spiritually run and not be weary as long as they keep the commandments and hope for or anticipate the Lord (see footnotes). Even though we are all capable of spiritually running, King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon exhorts us to “see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order” (Mosiah 4:27). God expects us to rely on him completely, running expecting His miracle; but, He does not expect us to run faster or longer than we have strength. He wants us to do all we can do; He wants us to believe in His power and act according to His will. In return, He provides us with strength, miracles, and salvation.
Second, crossing the Red Sea sometimes means death. Consider Abinadi in the Book of Mormon. He followed the commands of God without hesitation. He ran into danger expecting a miracle. He was burned at the stake. But, that doesn’t mean that he was without his miracle, or the reward for his sacrifice. “And whoso layeth down his life in my cause, for my name’s sake, shall find it again, even life eternal” (Doctrine and Covenants 98:13; see also Matthew 10:39 and 16:25). Abinadi gave up his life, his dime-store body, and received from Heavenly Father the reward of eternal life. Abinadi’s miracle was a miracle of salvation.
Jesus Christ also endured a similar fate. He gave his life as a sacrifice for us and took up His life again. His miracle was the resurrection after he had run his whole life expecting the miracle. And our Heavenly Father sent His Son as a sacrifice for sin. That sacrifice acted as the second portion of God’s faith. The first portion is God’s belief or hope. His hope is in us. His work and His glory revolves around us, His children. He believes in our potential. He believes we are worthwhile. He sealed that hope in us with His sacrifice in sending His son to die for us. Jesus Christ, likewise, believes in us and our potential. His sacrifice sealed that hope in us forever. Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “One of the greatest weaknesses in most of us is our lack of faith in ourselves. One of our common failings is to depreciate our tremendous worth.” Even if we cannot see our potential, our Heavenly Father does and is ready to give us the miracles we need when we put our faith in Him and run expecting His aid.
For many of us, God will not require us to die as a sacrifice. “But if our lives are spared again,” then, as Paul said, “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). God desires our commitment to Him. With our obedience, always walking in faith, we can become living sacrifices made holy through Jesus Christ. It is the action of sacrifice that completes our faith and helps prepare us for the miracles that God has in store for us.
So walk by faith. Run expecting miracles. Regardless of your pace, keep going forward diligently, because Elohim loves you and believes in your potential; and “if God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).