"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."
Whenever I approach this campus, there is something special that stirs within my soul. There is always a freshness, an air of growth and of development. A feeling of significant activity is in the air. There is almost an aroma of new beginnings, of goals made and in the process of being attained, of maturing careers, and of powerfully developing spirits.
(In Mark 9) This is one of the greatest New Testament accounts we have probing the complexity of faith and the degrees one experiences in its development. The man's inital faith, by his own admission, is limited. But he has some faith. He did, after all, approach the disciples but, of course, met dissapointment there. With whatever remaining faith he has, he turns to Jesus and says, "If thou canst do any thing," please help us, hoping perhaps Jeus might be able to succeed where all others have failed.
Christ, ever the teacher, seizes on the man's very language and limited faith and turns it back on him "If thou canst believe," Christ says, "all things are possible to him that believeth." In that very instant, in the length of time it takes to have that two-sentence exchange, this man's understanding begins to be enlightened. The look in the Savior's eye or he tone of His voice or the majesty of His bearing or simily the words He spoke -something touches this man spiritually and an inexorable change begins. Up to that moment he had thought that everything depended on others -doctors, soothsayers, priests, the disciples, or, here at the very last, Jesus. Only now, in this exchange, does he grasp that a great deal of the answer to his quest rests upon his own shoulders, or, more accurately, in his own soul.
At one point, Terman and heis fieldworkers go and visit everyone from the A and C groups and rate their personalities and manner. What they found is everything you would expect to find if you were comparing chidren raised in an atmosphere of natural growth. The As were juded to be much more alert, poised, attractive, and well dressed. In fact, the scores on those four dimensions are so diffrent as to make you think you are looking at two different species of humans. You aren't, of course. You're simply seeing the difference between those schooled by their families to present their best face to the world, and those denied that expereince.
The Terman results are deeply distressing. Let's not forget how highly gifted the C group was. Ifyou had met them at five or six year of age, you would have been overwhelmed by their curiosity and mental agility and sparkle. They were true outliers. The plain truth of the Terman study, however, is that in the end almost none of the genius children from the lowest social and economic class ended up making a name for themselves.
What did the Cs lack, though? Not something expensive or impossible to find; not something encoded in DNA or hardwired into the circuits of their brains. They lacked something that could have been given to them if we'd only known they needed it: a community around them that prepared them properly for the world.
Intelligence is eternal and exists upon a self-existent principle. It is a spirit from age to age and there is no creation about it. All the minds and spirits that God ever sent into the world are susceptible of enlargement.
From what sources, then, can we borrow strength without building weakness? Only from the sources that build the internal capacity to deal with whatever the situation calls for. For instance, a surgeon borrows strength fro his developed skill and knowledge; a mile runner from his disciplined body, strong legs, powerful lungs; a missionary from his developed capacity to love and teach and testify.
In other words, we ask the question: What is it that the situation demands? What strength, what skill, what knowledge, what attitude? Obviously the possessions, the appearances, or the credentials of the surgeon, the athlete, or the missionary are only symbols of what is needed and are therefore worthless and deceiving without the substance.
But when we borrow strenth from divine sources and eternal principals, the very nature of the borrowing demands our living better, and we thus build strength inside.
"Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life..." (John 6:27.)
In all of life there are stages, or processes, of growth and development. We know and accept this fact of process in the area of physical things, but understanding it in emotional area, in human relations, and even in the spiritual area, is less common and more difficult. And even though we may have this understanding, to accept it and to work on that basis is even less common and more difficult. Things in the physical area are seen, and constant evidence is supplied; but things in the other areas are largely unseen, and evidence is not as direct or as plain. Therefore, we sometimes look for a shortcut, preferring to skip some of these vital steps in order to save the time and effort and still reap the reward.
We will not attain a state of perfection in this life, but we can and should press forward with faith in Christ along the strait and narrow path and make steady progress toward our eternal destiny. The Lord’s pattern for spiritual development is “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30). Small, steady, incremental spiritual improvements are the steps the Lord would have us take. Preparing to walk guiltless before God is one of the primary purposes of mortality and the pursuit of a lifetime; it does not result from sporadic spurts of intense spiritual activity.
I witness that the Savior will strengthen and assist us to make sustained, paced progress. The example in the Book of Mormon of “many, exceedingly great many” (Alma 13:12) in the ancient Church who were pure and spotless before God is a source of encouragement and comfort to me. I suspect those members of the ancient Church were ordinary men and women just like you and me. These individuals could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence, and they “were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God” (v. 12). And these principles and this process of spiritual progress apply to each of us equally and always.