Friday, December 16, 2011

My Leap of Faith


“...By works was faith made perfect.” (James 2:22)
  
   Many years ago, my family took a short vacation to Driggs, Idaho.  Driggs is a place where I have visited many times because my mother grew up in Driggs and my grandparents lived there. I wanted my five children to enjoy some of the great outdoor experiences that I had exploring the nearby Teton mountain range, a striking mountain range located on the border of Idaho and Wyoming.  Driggs is located at the base of these mountains.  I will always remember trips into the Tetons to camp, fish, picnic, hike, pick huckleberries, snowmobile, and snow ski with my parents, siblings, grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins.

   On this particular trip, my sister's family was with us as we took both our families on a drive into the mountains. Eventually we came to the trailhead that leads to an interesting cave called Wind Cave, named because of the whistling sound that you can hear coming from it.  We got out of our cars and decided that it may be a fun thing for our families to hike the trail together to the cave.

   The afternoon was a little bit hot, but all of our kids- at least ten of them at the time- took off quickly, determined to beat each other to the cave. Our youngest daughter, probably about ten years old, tired and began to lag behind the rest. Steve and I decided to let the others go and we would take up the rear with our daughter, letting her proceed at her own pace.

   We arrived last.  Many of our family members were already exploring the cave and the surrounding area. We found, however, to actually get in to the cave, you had to climb nearly vertically along the side of a trickling water fall for about 20 yards. Steve went first so he could help our daughter find the best footing and path.  I took up the rear.

    I looked down momentarily to find a good spot to place my hand.  As I did so, I realized that my daughter was slipping and that Steve was not close enough to catch her. The trail was vertically so steep that her body began to somersault, literally, head over heals. As she tumbled to my right side,  I reached out to grab her, but I realized that she was too fast and too far from me. I couldn't stop her fall.  I immediately knew she was in danger of losing her life and of, at least, receiving serious injuries.  Her head was hitting the mountain rock. All I could do as I reached horizontally for her was say, "my daughter, my daughter..."  Someone had to stop her from falling.

   My outreached hand missed her, so I reacted instinctively and quickly.  I knew she might lose her life if she continued.  Instantly, I also knew that if I had to lose my life- or be seriously injured- to save her, I would.  I had to try. With all the faith I could muster, I twisted my body downhill toward her.  I leaped. I jumped as far and as hard as I could. I was desperate to catch some part of her.

   I did it.  Somehow my arms caught her calves. We landed together, with a thud, mostly on a very small horizontal outcropping of rock. The outcropping stopped us both from tumbling further down. Her face was scraped, but she was OK. My knee began to bleed from a gash I received from the jagged mountain, but I would be OK.  I had made the leap, I had saved her, and neither one of us was seriously injured.

  It was my leap of faith.  It was a leap of faith because I acted on what I knew I had to do. I had no idea there would be a small outcropping for us to land on. I didn't have the luxury of first thoroughly thinking through all the possibilities or all the results. I only knew that I had to try to save her- and I had to act immediately. I had to DO something.
  
   That is what having faith is all about. We act on what we deep down know is true.
  
So what does all this have to do with missionary work?

   Missionaries invite others to make changes in their lives. They invite their investigators to pray, to read the Book of Mormon, to attend church, to stop smoking and drinking, etc. Making changes is hard, but when acting in faith, investigators  DO  what they need to do make changes NOW because they have the hope of a better life and relationship with God.

Being doubtful is not acting in faith:
"Faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other."  -President Thomas S. Monson ("Come Unto Him in Faith and Prayer,” Ensign, Mar 2009)



   Procrastinating is not acting in faith.  If I had waited even a few more seconds to twist and leap, I would have missed the opportunity to stop my daughter's fall.

   When a person decides to act on what he knows is right, he will make that same type of leap that I made as I saw my daughter fall.  He may not know where he will end up, but he will leap anyway, putting his faith in the Lord that he will end up in a better place.

   Faith is a choice.
"We cannot know what faith is if we have never had it, and we cannot obtain it as long as we deny it."
-President Thomas S. Monson ("Come Unto Him in Faith and Prayer,” Ensign, Mar 2009)
   Eventually, all who want to receive answers to soul-searching questions, will have to take their own "leap of faith" to obtain their answers. They must have faith in a Heavenly Father that loves them so much that He will answer them, guide them, and bless them.

Here are some Texas McAllen missionaries who have returned home and who taught and understand the principle of faith: