In Alma 32, Alma compares faith to a seed which grows into a tree, giving delicious fruit. In his Teaching with Power video which covers this section, Ben Wilcox posed some insightful questions about our own experiences of faith, which I’m going to share here, along with some of my answers. As you read them, you could consider what your own answers to these questions are. Writing them down would be an excellent way to confirm your faith and feel uplifted and grateful – as well as to see spaces for growth. I know it did that for me.
If you could visualise the state of your faith as a tree, what would it look like?
I’m actually not going to share my answer here, as I think this one is better answered privately. So just the question this time.
Have you ever observed one of the four observations of faith (as it relates to the effects of faith in the Gospel and Christ)?
This question refers to the four aspects of how faith is experienced or observed that Alma describes in verse 28 (and onwards), which are in green below.
Swelling/emotional: I feel a deep emotional response and connection to the Gospel. I love it. It feels good inside, and I have feelings of joy, excitement, love, comfort, hope and completeness associated with it. I’ve felt ‘burning in the bosom’, a ‘rightness’ and intuitive, deep-seated feeling and knowing in my gut (which is the ‘second’, or emotional, brain). I’ve had the physical response of raised hairs or shivering sensations when something gels with what my spirit knows – a resonance like when singers in a choir hit a perfect note together (the feeling you get singing in that choir). And I have often felt comforted, supported, loved, or accepted when I’ve needed very badly to feel that and have asked heaven for help. These are encompassing, completely-‘enough’ feelings for what I need at the time.
Enlarges your soul/changes you into a better person/develops your character: Well, this is a long-term thing! And I’m speaking subjectively, of course. But, yes; it definitely gives me wisdom and motivates me to try to restrain baser impulses, do right things, and persevere. I have a reason to try to be better, all the time. I think it has made me better than I would be without having gone through the processes of discipleship to this point. I can see the development of my soul over my lifetime so far, despite my weaknesses which remain.
Enlightens my understanding: definitely! All the time. In many, many ways. My understanding has been continually enlightened over my life, as I’ve studied scriptures, participated in classes, listened to talks and General Conference, sung music, prayed, and pondered. I am continually being taught things by the Holy Spirit, seeing more to a concept or truth, and having my thoughts clarified. I love experiencing this aspect of the Gospel.
Is delicious to you: Absolutely! I love the Gospel; I love how it feels and what it does; I love learning more within it. Not only does it do me good; it’s also a constantly-expanding universe of knowledge, light, goodness and wonder. It makes me happy, hopeful, fulfilled, not alone, and sure; and gives me the method for becoming a being full of light, goodness, truth, knowledge and love. It makes sense, it feels good, and it’s true. The fruit of this tree truly brings me joy and is delicious, as Alma testified.
These are not the only ways that I’ve experienced the testimony of the Holy Spirit regarding the Gospel, the goodness of God, and eternal things. I would say that some fall outside these four observations of how exercising faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings results.
What do you think? Do you have similar answers, or additional or different experiences? It would be encouraging and interesting to hear these from others.