Lately, there have been a number of times when I feel like I’ve “toiled all the night” on one worthy goal or another and had nothing to show for it. Similar to how Christ’s disciples felt in Luke chapter 5 when they fished all night and “caught nothing.”
But, at Christ’s word, the disciples let down their nets one more time, and immediately “they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake” (Luke 5:6).
Such stories of faith lead me to wonder, “Okay, how can I raise my faith in Christ to the extent that, metaphorically, my net can suddenly be filled with more fish than it can hold?”
I brainstormed several answers to this question, but then when I asked my husband for his opinion on the subject, he gave me an answer that made me realize I should scrap all my other answers. His answer was this:
Have faith in Christ in this exact moment.
Often, when I realize that an increased faith in Christ could make all the difference in my current situation, my next thought is something like, “Oh, if only I’d gone to bed earlier last night, then I would have woken up earlier, then I could have put God first by doing my scripture study and focused prayers first thing in the morning (before my kids got up), and then I’d have the Spirit more right now, and my faith tank would be more full, and then my faith would qualify me to see more miracles right now . . . but since this day is already a lost cause, maybe my best bet is to start thinking and preparing for how I can have more faith tomorrow . . .” and on and on and on. I’m always focused on the past or the future, never focused enough on the present—on right now.
But you know what? On the day of the fish miracle, I’m willing to bet Peter didn’t do his scripture study that morning (based on how he described himself as a “sinful man” in Luke 5:8). And even if Peter did, I can think of another man who definitely didn’t: Alma the Younger.
In the Book of Mormon, Alma the Younger was a rebellious and unbelieving young man who was suddenly warned by an angel that he must repent or be destroyed. For three days, Alma’s soul was wracked with torment, harrowed up in the memory of his sins. But then he remembered his father had spoken of a Savior who would take away the sins of the world.
Alma related, “Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more” (Alma 36:18–10).
Wow, that’s pretty simple. The moment my mind catches hold on a thought about Christ, I can call out for help. Or, like the fishermen, the very moment I hear or recall a simple sentence of Christ’s words, I should “let down [my] net.”
Perhaps sometimes I forget the order of the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, as listed in Article of Faith number four: “First, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance.”
Faith in Christ is first, and repentance is second. So if I feel like I have to do some repenting first, instead of immediately exercising faith in Christ, no wonder I get stuck.
In short, I need to stop making my faith in Christ so complicated. The past is gone; focus on right now.
Yes, right now.