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Walking By Faith

**Note**: This is edited from two posts I wrote on my personal blog in Nov. 2007. At the time, I felt compelled to write about this paradigm shift twice, to remind myself of how amazingly transcendent this epiphany was for me.

I share this now because the Spirit prompted me to remember these feelings and thoughts yesterday. I love the word remember ? in the Book of Mormon. Probably because I so desperately need to do it on a regular basis!

I have been very busy and overwhelmed the past few weeks. (While that is a fairly normal state of affairs for me, this has been more intense than usual.) I have had to tell myself to consciously slow down and breath deeply. (Yes, Ray, I really do pay attention when you tell me that all the time!) I have felt like I was drowning, and even had the thought that now I know what the edge of a panic attack must feel like.

And then came this gentle reminder from a loving Savior ?

A very wise friend posted a blog about this quote from F. David Lee. You can read this amazing thought (and her insights) here.

In the interest of time, I will quote some highlights that really jumped out at me and share my thoughts on them.

* The scriptures speak of the trial of faith ? (Ether 12:6) through which we must pass, indicating that the faith-building process is not automatic. Instead, it is a learning process a mandatory sequence for all who would inherit eternal life.

“Learning process — a mandatory sequence…” So much of life is a mandatory learning process! It’s okay to still be learning as I go along life’s path!! It’s not automatic. I don’t have to know it all before I venture out and make decisions and simply *live.*

* Each step Peter took away from the ship was a trial of his faith; each step toward Jesus took him a step farther from his accustomed means of survival. And each step was a voluntary one; he was under no compulsion to leave the ship and respond to the Lord’s call to Come. ?

I like the phrase “took him a step farther from his accustomed means of survival.” I LIKE my comfort zones; it is hard for me to step beyond my “accustomed means of survival.” But stepping beyond is part of the learning experience! Yet every step is voluntary. Christ calls me to come unto Him, but He doesn’t force me to come on His timetable — His grace allows me to come unto Him on my timetable… not all at once, but progressing one step at a time, ever nearer to Him.

* As we learn the gospel and develop our faith, we reach the point where we feel strong enough to leave the boat; we determine to stand free from worldly supports and voluntarily walk by faith through the tempest toward our Savior. Each step for us may be a trial. The waves around us are as real in their way as Peter’s waves were to him.

THIS is what really hit me from F. David Lee’s quote. The past few years have been very difficult and challenging ones in many ways for me (and for my family). This thought is like a light bulb or lightning bolt for me. Part of my floundering, part of my more recent spirals, come PRECISELY because I AM FURTHER AWAY FROM THE BOAT. I am walking by faith and leaving the safety and stability of the boat, and moving through the tempest of my life toward the Savior. So when I flounder, when I take my eye off Christ and notice the storms raging around me, I start to sink… and I know I’m too far away from the boat to reach safety on my own! I am not a strong swimmer (physically) and the thought of being too far away from tangible safety freaks me out (emotionally). My waves are real; my trials are real. Each step I take on the water is part of the trial of my own personal faith and of my journey towards Christ.

* Our efforts to meet the trials of our faith our footsteps over life’s treacherous waters have somehow re-oriented us, and we reach out for safety, not to the boat, as we would have done in earlier times, but to the outstretched hand of the Savior. Hand grasps hand, and we are pulled to the Master…

My faith and hope is that I can still (even with my insecurities, weaknesses, problems, and sins) walk on the water with faith in my Savior’s outstretched hand to catch me when I start to slip. So part of my learning process is to stop reaching back toward the security of the boat and to start truly turning to Him and reach for His hand — for He is where the real and lasting safety lies. He will always be there to catch me.

* Jesus calms the storm.

One of my favorite scriptures says “Be still, and know that I am God.” He offers peace, rest, love, security, safety, and stability — all those things that I crave and need so desperately. Truly, when I am able to “still” myself, I am able to see His hand in my life and recognize that He calms every storm in my life.

———-

It has been enlightening and empowering to realize my recognition and admission that I am stronger than I used to be — and I am therefore moving away from my “accustomed means of survival,” taking the chance of stepping beyond the safety of the boat, and voluntarily walking by faith toward Christ. The realization that some of my more recent struggles have come PRECISELY because I am further away from the boat is astounding to me; the waves are more pronounced out in the open water and I am too far away to reach back and grab the edge of the boat.

Part of the epiphany and paradigm shift for me comes because I have realized that I don’t WANT to reach back to the boat as I “would have done in earlier times” (and I’ve reached back frequently!) — I now want to reach forward, toward my Savior, and rely on His saving grace to rescue me when I have walked as far as I can out on those choppy and tempestuous waves. His hand is outstretched, and He is there, willing and able to catch me, rescue me, bring me home. “Hand grasps hand…” He does, indeed, calm every inner storm within my heart and mind, as well as every outer tumultuous challenge and mundane responsibility I face as a mortal here on earth.

I believe and trust Christ. I know He knows me and my needs. I know I have felt His presence in my life. I have felt the deep and abiding peace that comes from His hope and comfort. I know He is my Savior, my Redeemer, and my Friend.

Yet there is more to understanding and accepting His grace than I have previously experienced. My paradigm shift allows me to more fully accept His gift of grace. I do this, in part, by reaching forward, reaching toward Christ, instead of continually looking back and trying to grab the boat. He knows (and now *I* know!!) that I am past that point; that to grow and progress, I need to take the risk of walking the open water and truly trusting that He will be there when I start to sink.

I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to reach this level of understanding, but I’m grateful for the opportunities and learning curves that have brought me to this point. It is another moment (among many such moments) that I can pinpoint with certainty, a moment when my testimony and my knowledge have converged with the Spirit to absolutely and completely change my perspective and my life, without question and without reserve.

Walking by faith in this manner, and with this viewpoint, I believe I am finally recognizing within myself what He has seen all along. I am stronger than I thought I was! With His help I can walk on water, without holding onto the fears and weaknesses that formerly held me bound to the “boat.” I can survive life’s tempests! What a freeing and life-altering vision!! What an astounding gift from Christ. “I stand all amazed…”

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Alison Moore Smith February 28, 2008, 3:40 pm

    Each step Peter took away from the ship was a trial of his faith; each step toward Jesus took him a step farther from his accustomed means of survival. And each step was a voluntary one; he was under no compulsion to leave the ship and respond to the Lord ?s call to Come. ?

    That is profound, isn’t it?

    Thanks for sharing this, Michelle.

  • Michelle D February 28, 2008, 6:44 pm

    Thanks, Alison. Yes, it is profound. This epiphany has changed my life over the past few months. As recent situations in my life have caused the need to re-emphasize this for me, I find there are lessons to learn from this again and again…

    I am glad the Savior is patient with our learning curves as we find the faith to “leave the boat” — even when we have to leave it multiple times because we keep returning to the known safety. I find that one of the amazing aspects of the atonement is His willingness to allow us to come unto Him on our own timetable.

  • Ray February 28, 2008, 7:15 pm

    It’s scary, but it’s also amazing what happens when you stop worrying about things and simply embrace what the Lord wants you to do. I am a witness of Michelle’s growth over the past year, and it’s been neat to see.

  • davidson February 28, 2008, 9:45 pm

    MIchelle, I love to see your beautiful heart. Thank you for this.

  • davidson February 29, 2008, 9:19 am

    I read your “Walking By Faith” again this morning. This paragraph stood out to me:

    “But stepping beyond is part of the learning experience! Yet every step is voluntary. Christ calls me to come unto Him, but He doesn ?t force me to come on His timetable His grace allows me to come unto Him on my timetable ? not all at once, but progressing one step at a time, ever nearer to Him.”

    It reminds me of my husband’s favorite scripture, an obscure little verse that was a real epiphany for him: “Therefore, O my son, whosoever WILL come, MAY come, and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever WILL NOT come, the same is NOT COMPELLED to come; BUT IN THE LAST DAY IS SHALL BE RESTORED UNTO HIM ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.” (Alma 42:27; capitals and commas added for emphasis.) No arm-twisting. Everyone is invited to be lifted by His gospel. We have His permission and His blessing to do so. It clarifies the distinction between the options we have and the options we don’t. We can choose to come unto Christ, or choose not to come unto Christ, but the end result is not optional; we will stand accountable for what we choose. Kind of sobering, but kind of comforting too. It is the perfect pattern for raising kids, I think.

    Hey, if you get the opportunity, please tell your friend thank you for her post on the other website. I really enjoyed it, too. I learn so much from my friends.

  • Michelle D February 29, 2008, 12:09 pm

    Thanks, Ray and Davidson. Davidson, I’m touched that you would re-read this, and check out my friend’s post as well. I will pass your thoughts on to her. And that verse is a great pattern for parenting. Thanks for sharing that insight.

    Thanks, Alison, for introducing me to these wonderful friends here at MM!

  • facethemusic February 29, 2008, 12:15 pm

    *

    Our efforts to meet the trials of our faith our footsteps over life ?s treacherous waters have somehow re-oriented us, and we reach out for safety, not to the boat, as we would have done in earlier times, but to the outstretched hand of the Savior. Hand grasps hand, and we are pulled to the Master ?

    The realization that some of my more recent struggles have come PRECISELY because I am further away from the boat is astounding to me; the waves are more pronounced out in the open water and I am too far away to reach back and grab the edge of the boat.

    Your “epiphany” of the meaning in this story is now a shared “epiphany”. Isn’t it astounding, how you can hear a scritpural story, read about it, study it, etc over and over, time after time, and still not catch all the different applications?

    This was a beautiful post Michelle. I LOVE it when I feel enlightened with something new, that builds on something old and sure. Does that make sense? I’m not saying that right– but I’m feeling a little at loss for words in trying to explain it.

  • davidson February 29, 2008, 1:07 pm

    You said it perfectly, Face. I feel the same way you do.

  • Michelle D February 29, 2008, 1:38 pm

    FTM, thanks for your comment. Indeed, you said it perfectly: “I LOVE it when I feel enlightened with something new, that builds on something old and sure.”

    One of the blessings of these types of epiphanies is how they can transcend our lives at the time we receive them, and then come back and lift us again at a later time. When I first had these thoughts in Nov, it was amazing how completely changed I felt from the inside out. But I can see now that I was starting to become comfortable and complacent again. As I’ve struggled with being overwhelmed lately, the Lord knew that reminding me of this inspiration would help lift me up and over the emotional and mental blocks I was experiencing! Same feelings and experience, different applications, wonderful gift!

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