I heard a fantastic talk two weeks ago in Stake Conference from a member who had struggled with getting overwhelmed by the numerous challenges she had faced in recent years.  She noted that her son had chastised her for some of her negative talk.  She defensively replied that she was just “being realistic”.  In his youthful wisdom, he emphatically said that she could be realistic, but she had to talk with faith.  That hit me.

Is faith at odds with being realistic?

I thought about the happiest moments in my life. Those moments were, not surprisingly, when I was the most hopeful.  I was busier than usual and had the biggest dreams and plans underway.  I’m sure many people thought I was delusional.  A few of those moments included: planning to apply and attend MIT when I was just a small town Utah kid, learning to speak Chinese and going to China to serve, and training for a swim from Catalina Island to California mainland.  When planning for and subsequently working on the Arabian Peninsula, there were friends of my wife who noted that my ambitions were a little crazy because “normal” people don’t take jobs in the Middle East.  I appreciate that my wife shared my sense of adventure.

While not every dream or aspiration is realized, I believe that we accomplish a lot in the pursuit of these plans.  We can’t do great things without a belief that it is possible.  That belief is the essence of faith.  I also know that faith- as a principle- is true whether you believe in God or not.

So whether it is called corny things like Positive Mental Attitude, Beginning with the end in mind, daydreaming, or simply “vision”- the principle of faith is creating a reality in your mind before it is realized.  Faith is principle of power and action.  When training or working on goals, seeing the future achievement of those goals in your head is a strong motivator when it gets tough.  I think that vision is the essence of faith.  I think that is why faith is so attached to hope.  Personally, I think it is good to have a few “unreasonable” goals.

An admission.  A couple of years ago, the realities of some missed expectations and a few setbacks caused me to disproportionately focus on past failures, concentrate on the negative possibilities for the future, and think more about what could have been than the potential for success to come.  Like the woman in conference, I realized the need for a little course adjustment.  This world has a enough critics, enough realists…we need more dreamers.  We need more faith.  We need more people who smile and live with a conviction that anything is possible with God’s help despite the realities of here and now.

This is a public reclamation of my faith.  So here’s to some big goals in 2013- and God willing, becoming a better instrument in His hands for good.

Living Prophets

If you heard a prophet, like the populations described in ancient scripture, how would you respond?  
Would you be angry?  
Would you follow his counsel?
Would you simply dismiss him as a nut?

You didn’t have to live centuries ago to find out. Men who are inspired by God speak to us today.