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President Uchtdorf: ‘Fourth Floor, Last Door’

President Uchtdorf: ‘Fourth Floor, Last Door’

During the women’s session of the 186th Semiannual General Conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke of faith — what it is, what it can and cannot do, and “what we must do to activate the power of faith in our lives.”

What faith is

“Faith,” President Uchtdorf said, “is a strong conviction about something we believe — a conviction so strong that it moves us to do things that we otherwise might not do.”

He said non-believers ask how anyone can be certain of what they cannot see.

“What they fail to understand is that there are more ways to see than with our eyes; more ways to feel than with our hands, more ways to hear than with our ears,” President Uchtdorf said.

He said it’s something like the experience of a young girl who pointed out the sound of songbirds to her grandmother, who told the child she couldn’t hear so well. The little girl told her grandmother to “listen harder!”

“There are lessons in this story for both the nonbeliever and the believer,” President Uchtdorf said. “Just because we can’t hear something doesn’t mean there is nothing to hear. Two people can listen to the same message or read the same scripture, and one might feel the witness of the Spirit, while the other doesn’t.”

For anyone who wants to increase faith, perhaps telling them to listen differently is better than telling them to listen harder, President Uchtdorf said. “The Apostle Paul encourages us to seek the voice that speaks to our spirit, not just to our ears” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

The power and limits of faith

President Uchtdorf said sometimes it is not easy to develop faith in spiritual things while living in a physical world. But it is worth the effort, because the power of faith can be profound.

“Faith is powerful, and often it does result in miracles. But no matter how much faith we have, there are two things faith cannot do. For one, it cannot violate another person’s agency,” he said.

He spoke of a woman who prayed for years that her wayward daughter would return to the fold of Christ and felt discouraged that her prayers had seemingly gone unanswered. She needed to understand that, as painful as it might be for Heavenly Father, He will not force anyone to choose the path of righteousness.

“The second thing faith cannot do is force our will upon God,” President Uchtdorf said. “We cannot force God to comply with our desires — no matter how right we think we are or how sincerely we pray.”

Trust and faith

President Uchtdorf said, “The purpose of faith is not to change God’s will but to empower us to act on God’s will. Faith is trust — trust that God sees what we cannot, and that He knows what we do not. Sometimes, trusting our own vision and judgment is not enough.”

He spoke of his experience as an airline pilot. On days when he had to fly into thick fog or clouds and could see only a few feet ahead he relied on instruments that told him where he was and where he was headed. He listened to the voice of air traffic control and followed the guidance of someone with more accurate information than he had, someone he could not see but whom he had learned to trust in order to arrive safely at his destination.

Just keep knocking

“Those who are impatient, uncommitted, or careless may find faith to be elusive,” President Uchtdorf said. “Those who are easily discouraged or distracted may hardly experience it. Faith comes to the humble, the diligent, the enduring. It comes to those who pay the price of faithfulness.”

He spoke of two young missionaries serving in Europe in an area where there were few convert baptisms. They had the attitude that if no one listened to their message, it would not be because they had not given their best effort.

One day, they knocked on each door on the first floor of a four-story apartment building. No one would listen to them. They knocked on doors on the second and third floors, with the same result. They moved on to the fourth floor, where, at the last door, a young girl opened the door and then pleaded with her widowed mother to listen to them. The missionaries gave the mother a copy of the Book of Mormon, which she finished reading in a few days. She and her daughters were soon baptized.

The young woman who pleaded with her mother to listen to the missionaries is now President Uchtdorf’s wife, Harriet.

It shall be opened unto you

“In our search for enduring faith, in our quest to connect with God and His purposes, let us remember the Lord’s promise: ‘Knock, and it shall be opened unto you’ (Matthew 7:7).

“Will we give up after knocking on a door or two? A floor or two? …

“God ‘rewards those who earnestly seek him’ (Hebrews 11:6), but that reward is not usually behind the first door. We need to keep knocking. Sisters, don’t give up. Seek God with all your heart. Exercise faith. Walk in righteousness.”

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