It took a very long time for me to realize that faith is not wishful hoping. Many times in prayer I found myself clenching muscles and teeth in a display to God that I really meant it – that I really wanted something. Perhaps to this day that instinct still rears up when I am desperate, but faith is so much greater than that. If we learn the principle, then we know how to act in it.
In a sense, the principle of faith is really two things. It’s something you possess, and it is something you do. And this is because what you possess enables you to do something.
That thing is light. And everyone has a portion. It may be bright or it may be buried deep inside you. But we all have light within us. This is the light of God and is the core of both who and what you are.
It is the light within you that enables you to act. It enables you to perceive. Just as physical light allows you to perceive the physical world, spiritual light enables you to see the spiritual world. Physical light allows you to see “things as they are” physically, and spiritual light allows you to see “things as they are” spiritually.
When we have spiritual darkness within us we are acted upon by darkness. It oppresses us. It is the source of fear. And we are controlled by the darkness. It dims our perception and distorts our understanding of reality.
The light of God rescues us from fear. It fills us full of hope and we are enabled to see things as they are. We can then act in light, which is to say, we can act for ourselves and not be acted upon. To the degree I am full of light I can act for myself and have power to choose more light. If we continue to choose light amongst the darkness, we will grow in that light until we are perfected in it.
That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.D&C 50: 24
Perhaps this is a definition of faith – to yield to light not yet in our possession. Light from God, that is sent to us, and that we actively and intentionally receive, that exists outside of the realm of our current light of understanding.
So, the light you now possess is faith. It is faith because it enables you to receive more. The more light you have, the more you are capacitated to receive more. The less light you have, the more difficult it is to act on light to receive more because of the oppression, chaos, and confusion the darkness within us produces.
Doubt, fear, darkness, confusion, chaos – these are all products of the darkness within. But we also always have light. It is through identifying that light within, and acting in it, and choosing to yield to light outside of us, that we exercise faith to displace darkness and to receive greater and greater light. This is how we become full of faith (light).
Consider the diagram above. The light you possess is the degree of faith you possess. Notice there is a boundary between the light and the darkness where three things are happening. There is light within the sphere, darkness beyond the sphere, but there is also light from God that comes through the darkness and presents itself on the outer boundary of your possessed light.
This is where the act of faith occurs. This is where we exercise faith. It is when we yield to light that we do not yet possess. When we do this, our outer boundary expands and we become more full of light.
Unfortunately, the opposite things can happen as well. Both darkness and light can be found on the outer boundary. If we choose to yield to darkness instead of light then the darkness in us increases and our light fades. We begin to lose light and our understanding becomes distorted. Our inner world grows in deception and chaos.
If we have just a particle of light we have potential to be a being full of all light. Just like a mustard seed, one little particle of light within us has the potential of filling the universe. And this little particle of light is the spark of God. It gives us a place to act. No matter how much darkness we feel, or how much darkness our past has produced, searching out a particle of light within us and giving attention to it, and using it to seek out more light of God, in mercy and grace we can grow in the principle of intelligence until we receive all that the Father has.
Sometimes our circumstances force us to this place and confront the unknown. This will always be a natural part of mortality. But if we choose to go to that place, and humble ourselves before God and his light, and learn how to live on the boundary of our faith by our own free will and choice, it enables God to compound the infusion of light and truth in much faster ways than we can imagine. When we take initiative to go to the outer boundary of our faith and are diligent in seeking greater light and truth, he opens doors for us and endows us with his intelligence. We then are liberated from the darkness of this world and are brought into the light of God.