By Elder Patrick Kearon, Great Britain
First Counselor of the Europe Area Presidency
Elder David S. Baxter recently said: "Even if at times our faith seems no bigger than a mustard seed, as we move forward, Providence will move with us. If we seek heaven’s help, we will receive it—perhaps even in unexpected ways."1
Elder Baxter was speaking of adversity when he penned those words, and I believe they are true in good times as well. The key is to keep moving forward. It has been said that if we are not moving forward, we fall back. We need to stretch and grow to keep our faith strong and vibrant, constantly exercising our spiritual muscles. President Henry B. Eyring has said: "Great faith has a short shelf life."2 This causes me to think of those times when our faith and testimony are most vibrant and sure, and then something happens to shake our faith, or we fail to nourish it with consistent connection with God.
On a recent stay in a large city, I was awakened twice during the night by sirens outside my hotel window. When dawn came, I looked out of the window to see that the city's central fire and rescue station was located directly across the street. The firefighters were out working with one of their big ladder trucks. I became captivated by the training exercise in which they were engaged. They extended the ladder up a little way, and then brought it back down. Then they extended it again, but this time a little further, and then retracted it once more. They did this time and time again until they had reached the full extent of the ladder's reach and the top floor of the building on which they were practicing. I suspect that they conduct this exercise regularly. Through this consistent practice, they will know exactly what to do when the critical call comes. The firefighting team will respond immediately to the call for help, and in an instant each member of the crew will know where to be and what to do to effect a rescue from a building's uppermost floors.
It is the same for us. Our faith and testimony need constant exercise, constant stretching to extend our spiritual reach. We know the things we must continually repeat to keep ourselves spiritually strong, and yet we can be slow to do them, even when we have discovered that they do in fact strengthen and bless us. Our devoted daily prayers, our dedicated study of scripture, regular fasting with sincere purpose, regular temple attendance, time spent in the service of our Father in Heaven and of others all help us extend our spiritual reach and fortify our testimony. We must likewise remember that there are few things that strengthen testimony like sharing it with others. Expressing out loud what we believe bolsters our faith and reinforces our convictions. The consistent repetition of these simple but powerful practices, in a very real sense, enables us to "put on [our] beautiful garments" and become our best spiritual selves.
The Lord commands us in D&C 82:14: "For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments."
Each time we determine to stretch a little farther and a little higher, we are surprised at the rich spiritual reward that flows from our remarkably small offering. At this time of year when we remember the Savior's miraculous atoning gift, we can easily recommit to act in a way that will let those blessings flow into our lives.
1. David S. Baxter, “Leaving Adversity Behind,“ Ensign, Dec. 2012, 26
2. Henry B. Eyring, “Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady,” Ensign, Nov. 2005, 39