As anyone knows who has been camping, it takes a lot of work to kindle a fire and to keep it burning brightly, especially when confronted with the challenges of wind or rain. Likewise, it takes constant spiritual effort to kindle and maintain the fire of faith in the face of criticism and doubt. Just as blocking wind or rain alone cannot kindle a fire, it is impossible to kindle the fire of faith by responding to criticism and doubt alone. Elder M. Russell Ballard related an interesting story to demonstrate this point:
When I was a mission president, a fine elder came to me. I asked, ‘How can I help you?’
‘President,’ he said, ‘I think I’m losing my testimony.’
I asked him how that could be possible.
‘For the first time I have read some anti-Mormon literature,’ he said. ‘I have some questions, and nobody will answer them for me. I am confused, and I think I am losing my testimony.’
I asked him what his questions were, and he told me. They were the standard anti-Church issues, but I wanted a little time to gather materials so I could provide meaningful answers. So we set up an appointment ten days later, at which time I told him I would answer every one of his questions. As he started to leave, I stopped him. ‘Elder, you’ve asked me several questions here today,’ I said. ‘Now I have one for you.’
‘How long has it been since you’ve read from the Book of Mormon?’ I asked.
His eyes dropped. He looked at the floor for a while. Then he looked at me. ‘It’s been a long time, President,’ he confessed.
‘All right,’ I said. ‘You have given me my assignment. It’s only fair that I give you yours. I want you to promise me that you will read in the Book of Mormon for at least one hour every day between now and our next appointment.’ He agreed that he would do that.
Ten days later he returned to my office, and I was ready. I pulled out my papers to start answering his questions. But he stopped me.
‘President,’ he said, ‘that isn’t going to be necessary.’ Then he explained, ‘I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.’
‘Well, that’s great,’ I said. ‘But you’re going to get answers to your questions anyway. I worked a long time on this, so you just sit there and listen.’
And so I answered all of those questions, and then asked, ‘Elder, what have you learned from this?’ And he said, ‘Give the Lord equal time.’
(M. Russell Ballard, How to Find Safety and Peace)