Seeing with an Eye of Faith: Visualize Your Desired Future

A remarkable phrase shows up a number of times in the Book of Mormon. It involves “looking forward” with an “eye of faith” to a desired result in the future. The idea is that if there is something that you sincerely desire, you should use your inner “eye,” or your imagination, and picture yourself as already being there or having what you want.  Through your faith that it is possible, you can begin to see yourself as having already reached your goal.

In the book of Alma 5:15-16, Alma preaches to the people about the goal of being received into heaven when their life on Earth is over.  In order to direct them toward that goal, he asks them if they can imagine how things will be at that future time when they finally get there. As they “look forward with an eye of faith,” what kind of outcome do they see? He asks:

15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality … to stand before God …?

 16 I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?

What Alma is trying to have his audience do is to visualize their own future in minute detail. They are to imagine being resurrected and raised to stand before God.  They are to imagine themselves hearing the approving voice of the Lord accepting them into heaven — reaching their ultimate goal.  He suggests that if they try to visualize this scene and what they envision is only negative, then perhaps they need to find that balance in their lives so that the way they are living is in alignment with a positive outcome and then exercise their faith so that they are now headed in this more desirable direction.

In a later discourse, Alma brings up this concept again in a similar way.  He essentially teaches that when we accept a new teaching (“the word”) and apply it in our lives, we need to use our “eye of faith” in order to follow it through to the end where we can see the result of how that teaching has improved our life.  He compares this process to planting a seed (the word/teaching) in our hearts and helping it to grow until it grows into a beautiful tree from which we can pluck delicious fruit.  He states in Alma 32:40-41:

40 And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.

 41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.

Alma warns that we need to be constantly visualizing the end goal — that figurative fruit that we desire to receive.  If we do not continue looking forward to and working towards that fruit, we can never “pluck” it.

I want to share one more passage on this idea.  This one is from the book of Ether and describes people who have already achieved their desired goal and declares that it is because they had used that “eye of faith” to visualize the outcome that they were able to achieve what they did.  The goal of these people was to see their Lord, their Savior, even before He came into this world.  Ether 12:19 says:

19 And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad. 

I think what we should understand from this is the idea that these people had envisioned seeing Christ in their mind in such vivid detail and with such great faith that someday they would see Him that what they hoped for soon became a reality for them.  They had seen it in their mind first and then it actually happened.

creative visualizationI like to relate these ideas to a concept known as creative visualization. In the most basic sense, creative visualization is a process of using your imagination to picture a desired outcome — to conceptualize in your mind something that you want to have happen to you in the near or distant future.  If we can picture our goal, our desired result, in our mind so vividly that we can see ourselves there in that situation as if it were already real, then we are well on our way to achieving that goal. (Read more about creative visualization here.)

Beyond merely being able to imagine achieving the goal, we need to make this visualization a regular practice.  If you regularly take time to sit down and let yourself picture the achievement of the goal — imagining the process, how it will happen, who you are with, how you will feel when you achieve it — in the most minute details, you are, in a sense, creating your own future.

We are told that God created all things in two phases — spiritually (we could, perhaps, say mentally) and then physically.  The physical things that we see and feel around us are based on an original mental blueprint.  The exercise of faith causes the mental to become a physical reality.

I want to share here a story of how I was able to use visualization to overcome a foot injury in order to participate in championship track meets during my senior year of high school. As it was my last year of high school, I naturally wanted my senior Track and Field season to be my best ever — I had many goals that I wanted to achieve, including winning both the United Kingdom and Central European championships (I went to high school in England) for the 800 meter race.   Unfortunately, after having an excellent, undefeated season, I injured a bone in my foot a couple of weeks before the first of the championship races.  I was devastated!  My hopes were dashed!  The doctors told me that I would not be able to run for the rest of the season.  I didn’t know what to do and assumed that I would have to give up on my goals.

That is when my dad taught me how to visualize.  In combination with prayer and great care, my dad suggested that every day, at least a couple of times per day, I should sit in my bed, close my eyes, and imagine that my foot was getting better.  He had me imagine that there were little workmen inside my body that could go down to the injured bone in my foot and work on it until it was completely healed.  And so I did that — every day I would vividly imagine these little workers zooming down en masse and fixing my foot.  And honestly, my foot really did heal!  Before the championship race, I was up and running again.  I went on to win the UK championship, and then the Central European championship.  My foot never gave me a problem throughout the rest of that season.  I was truly amazed at how well this had worked.24-05-2008 20;01;49

Beyond that, I feel that my championship victories were also partially the result of additional visualizations that I did at that time.  Again, according to my dad’s instructions, I would regularly imagine myself winning the championship race.  I would close my eyes and see myself at the starting line.  I would imagine exactly how I wanted the race to go — how close I would be to the front of the pack, where I would be after the first lap, and how powerful my kick would be in the final stretch.  I imagine who I would be running against and how I would react if someone tried to pass me up.  I would imagine every detail of the race from the beginning to the end and, of course, imagine myself victorious when the race was done.  The incredible thing is that the races would almost always work out just as I had imagine them!  I would get that burst of energy right at the end just as I had envisioned it and felt it in my visualization sessions.

To me, this is one way in which we can exercise our faith.  We can practice “seeing” what we hope to happen in the future that we desire.  To the degree that we truly believe it can happen to us and visualize it actually happening, we can achieve what we desire from life. I believe this works for both religious and “secular” goals.  I always make sure to accompany these visualizations with prayer because I believe that we don’t achieve these things on our own, but that God gives us according to our desires.  He recognizes our sincere desires and helps us obtain them when we look forward with that eye of faith.

 

 

13 thoughts on “Seeing with an Eye of Faith: Visualize Your Desired Future

  1. I have had great success using creative visualization to arrive at where I am today. I love your new blog post. It was on a very important topic. With that said, it is hard to visualize without information, and I wish I had more information about what it is like in the spirit world where I will soon be going. Visualizing the resurrection is somewhat easier because I will have a body, and I will be in the physical presence of the Father and the Son at least in some fashion. But the spirit world is very mysterious to me. I have too many unanswered questions.
    What is it like to have no physical body? Will I eat and sleep as I do here? Will I travel, and if so how? How will I find my friends and family on the other side? Will I read books, or is there some other way of obtaining information? Will I have a house, or is there no need for a house when there is no physical body that needs to be sheltered? Will I be able to spy on those still in mortality? I have often heard others talking about those spirit beings who are watching us. Sounds like a violation of privacy rights to me. Just because God can see me twenty-four seven doesn’t mean I want my grandma doing the same. I know there will be plenty of work for me to do, and I won’t have the health problems that keep getting in the way here. But will there also be recreation? What? Movies? Sports? Computer games? I want to visualize, but some of the helpful information is missing.

    Thank you for writing this. Years ago I read Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz. It was about using ones imagination to visualize the realization of goals. I knew then that it was a correct principle. And I visualized in my twenties being an old man surrounded by loving family, a wife of many years who adored me, and children and grandchildren who loved me and kept me from ever being lonely in my old age. My son says that I am a “cult leader” to my posterity, and it fills me with joy to know that I have been a good influence in their lives. But that was not difficult to visualize. I saw it in the lives of my grandfathers before me. Mortality I know pretty well. The spirit world not so much. And the spirit world is our immediate destination. Many of us will be there quite a while before our turn for resurrection arrives. How do you visualize life in the spirit world?

  2. I really enjoyed your post. I hadn’t realized how much the visualization aspect of faith was present in the Book of Mormon. Good catch. It’s a new way of thinking about faith. Its not just Deepak Chopra, it’s Alma!

  3. Some of my most spiritual moments are when I visualize meeting the Savior. I imagine Him giving me a hug and telling me, “well done, good and faithful servant!” If I keep on imagining this as the goal, I feel it is more likely to actually happen that way (although obviously I realize there are no guarantees).

  4. John W.if you want to learn about the spirit world, I highly recommend the following books by a couple of members of the church who had NDE, best books on the subject I have ever read: Visions of Glory by John Pontius and The Message by Lance Richardson. Visions of Glory completely blew my mind, gave me more hope and understanding about the spirit world and what kind of extraordinary beings we really are, but we hardly know.

  5. John — thanks for your comments regarding the Spirit World. Wow, I had never really thought about trying to visualize that stage of our existence. I tend to see visualization as helping you to reach some kind of desired outcome — and I see resurrection as fitting because we want to end up with a celestial resurrection instead of other alternatives. I guess I see the Spirit World as not so much of a destination, but rather a kind of waiting room or layover on our way to the final destination. It’s kind of a default situation — everyone’s going to end up there. But I guess you could visualize how you want it to be — and that you want to be in Paradise rather than Spirit Prison, you want to be with family rather than being alone, etc.

    I agree with C. Lopez that there are some great materials out there on Near-Death Experiences that give some very specific details of what people have experienced when they have temporarily passed into the spirit realm. There is a great book called “Life Everlasting” and also one by Brent Top, dean of Religious Education at BYU, called “Beyond Death’s Door.” I have read “Visions of Glory” and agree that it is amazing, but I have my reservations about that one and some others. Reading through some of these can help you visualize more clearly what the Spirit World will be like.

  6. Nate — yeah, isn’t that amazing! It’s right there in the text. Maybe somebody should tell Deepak about it! :)

    Geoff — that’s awesome! And in doing that, I think you’re right in line with the Brother of Jared and the others it talks about in Ether 12. If you keep up that thinking, I’m sure you will one day find out that what you imagined will indeed happen — and it will very likely be even better than you imagined!

  7. Before I place much credence on NDE stories, I would like a true prophet to explain how they fit into the Plan of Happiness, perhaps supported by a few scriptural references, conference talks, etc. I have long wondered why the New Testament story of Lazarus did not include such material. I would love to believe these stories, but there is a passage in the Book of Mormon that says:


    These are the words of Lehi in 2 Nephi 1:14:
    “Awake! and arise from the dust, and hear the words of a trembling parent, whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent bgrave, from whence no traveler can return; a few more days and I go the way of all the earth.”

    I am skeptical and place NDE stories alongside UFO stories as more or less the same sort of thing. It seems to me if they were real, they would be part of my religious faith. Of course, as always, if I learn more, perhaps have a NDE of my own, I will amend my attitude.

  8. JWR: Only the *limbs* (along with the torso, I presume) are laid down in the grave. Lehi doesn’t mention the spirit going to the grave. And from what I understand, the spirit separates from the body at the time of death, not the time of burial. Therefore the spirit never goes into the grave, and therefore the spirit never *returns* from the grave.

    The physical body does indeed *emerge* from the grave at the resurrection. However, it does not *return* to mortality, but goes on to immortality. And since the physical body was not immortal to begin with, it’s transition to immortality is not a *return* either.

    Hence, Lehi doesn’t address the issue of the port-mortal *spirit* interacting with mortals at all.

    I recall that BY once mentioned that the spirit world is actually located on, or includes the earth, that is, the physical space occupied by mortals. He rhetorically asked “Where is the spirit world?” And replied, “It is here, among us.”

  9. I know where the spirit world is. I feel like I know what Lehi was saying and like most things it can be interpreted several ways. I do not disbelieve in NDE, I just don’t believe it. If it were important for me to believe it, it would be taught by the Church. And our time in the spirit world is only temporary. That is true. But we have no idea how long we will have to live there before we are resurrected, so I’m just assuming that my next stop after I die will be long before my resurrection regardless of whether I go to spirit prison or paradise. I’m taking things one step at a time. I’m not going to count my chickens before they are hatched. First I have to get to paradise. As I read Lehi’s words to his family, he was talking about no traveler returning to mortality from the spirit world, Jesus Christ accepted of course.

  10. Well, even Jesus Christ didn’t return to mortality from the spirit world. There were two or three in the New Testament, but if any of them had NDEs it did not get into the Biblical record.

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