The other night, I stopped my relentless scrolling and started watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. (Third movie, second best, if you are keeping score.)
There is a point in the movie where Indy is standing on ledge overlooking a sheer drop. He is expected to step off the ledge. Taking that step runs counter to all logic and understanding of simple concepts such as logic, death and gravity.
But he takes the step… (And yes, that’s how it feels sometimes.)
And survives. Happy endings all around. I would give more detail, but apparently there are some pretty irresponsible parents out there who have not introduced their teenagers to Indiana Jones. (I learned this today in Sunday School, and I’m still struggling with it.)
It was a classic representation of a “Leap of Faith.”
Faith demands leaping. The term “Blind Faith” is redundant, because faith – by definition- must be blind. “And now as I said concerning faith— faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” (Alma 32:21)
Here’s the tricky part: The only way to learn truth is by exercising faith – by taking a leap. Christ explained it this way in John 7:17: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”
Wait. That’s backwards. Right? Do it first, then find out it is true? Doesn’t it make more sense to say “Convince me that it’s true, and I’ll give it a shot?” That’s how cynical MMM, and most of the world looks at this.
But the quest for truth does work backwards. As Christ said, if you want to know, you have to do it – first. You don’t have to be a scriptorian to find ample support for this teaching, but here a few instances:
IF you obey the Word of Wisdom, THEN you…
“…shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.” (D&C 89:18-20)
• Obedience first – wisdom, knowledge and endurance second.
IF you obey the laws of the Sabbath and the fast, THEN…
“…shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.” (Isaiah 58:8-9)
• Obedience first – health, protection, and answers to prayers second.
If you read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, THEN…
“…he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Moroni 10:4)
• Obedience first – witness second.
As he was editing Ether for inclusion in the Book of Mormon, Moroni stopped for a moment to summarize this idea:
“And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” (Ether 12:6)
There are more instances, but this should suffice to make the point that when seeking for truth, the effort comes first, the knowledge comes second. That is the very foundation of “walking by faith.”
Yet it is difficult – especially in our days. Information is everywhere. With a few keystrokes you can look up anything you want to find. We have more information available to us that any other people who have ever lived – instantaneously.
In fact, we have so much information – so much knowledge – that it is impacting our search for truth. Paul saw this problem coming when he wrote to Timothy that in our day, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7)
The major portion of my brain that is actually used is busy storing volumes of useless knowledge and information that have taken a lifetime to gather. It is frightening how much I know about stuff that doesn’t matter. We can acquire huge volumes of data by conventional means.
We pick up info as we live, watch, observe, study, etc. But there is only one specific channel to acquire knowledge of truth. One. Here it is:
“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5)
I find it fascinating that he does not say “the truth of some things,” or “the truth of religious stuff.” He says, “All things.”
The channel to acquire knowledge of spiritual things is through the Holy Ghost, and it takes effort. Herein lies one of our problems in today’s society: With so much information available, and easily accessible, we can find ourselves trying to acquire spiritual knowledge outside the system that God has set up to accomplish that task.
We live in a “convince me FIRST, THEN I might give it a try” society.
To reiterate: God’s system is this: Obey FIRST, then the Holy Ghost will testify SECOND.
If we spend our lives searching for knowledge of the truth through worldy means, we will never find it. We might find enough knowledge to convince us, and even alter our beliefs or behaviors, but it is not a witness, and is susceptible to the next batch of contradictory information that comes along.
Studying is good, and essential. We have been counseled, “But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind.”
But that is not enough: “then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” (D&C 9:8)
Study, but know that all the researching in the world cannot give you a testimony. All the knowledge in the world cannot give you a witness of the truth. That is not how these things operate.
They require a leap of faith. We have to experience them. We have to try the doctrines on and walk around to really know that they are right.
If you find yourself struggling with part or all of your testimony, and are trying to remedy it by searching through the world’s vast archives of information, I promise that you will not find it. That is not how it works. Scarier still, those same archives are where the adversary stores all of his information and propaganda that he and his helpers are willing to share.
If you want the truth, study it, live it, and receive a witness. It is the only way it works.
Take the leap.