There is so much good in our midst. We have family and friends that set good examples for us. Bounty is prevalent and available to all men. The gospel has been restored in its fullness and as such provides a sure way to resolving our challenges today, tomorrow, and throughout eternity.
All of us just have to look to realize this truth and in faith have eyes to see and ears to hear. Do you believe that?
According to Elder Kim B. Clark of the Seventy, we do not have to be perfect, but we need to be good and getting better. Building the kingdom of God is our primary purpose.
But life is hard, I know. There are obstacles and burdens and temptations. Costs are high and price dear to pay. But like a summer storm, what we understand and experience is a fraction of the whole that is impelling the showers before us.
That was very apparent to me as a young man growing up in Southern Utah. When cloudbursts happened on occasion, these natural phenomena transformed the hills, rocks, and cliffs all around our remote little town into beautiful cascading waterfalls. This was both a surprise and an awe-inspiring experience for me.
The hard ground and impenetrable sandstone diverted the rainfall into the crevices in the rock. The drops of rain collected together and ran down the face of the mammoth stone walls. Soon this water joined to fill tributaries, run into small canyons, and eventually combined into rushing rivers of water that would cascade off the high red-rock cliffs. Many of these waterfalls descended 800 feet or more.
Sometimes their streams would evaporate into mist before the falling water reached the rocks below. Others would slam into the ground and cause great movement of earth and debris. Whatever the outcome, fortunately for me the experience was memorable, awe-inspiring, and exciting. But I realize this same natural spectacle could be devastating to others unprepared for its arrival.
I have seen great walls of water devastate everything in their path and destroy the fauna and flora and structures of any kind in the area. Though people could try and prepare for events of this nature, sometimes the storms caught visitors unaware. The Narrows website at Zions National Park includes the following warning:
|Flash floods, often caused by storms miles away, are a real danger and can be life threatening.
During a flash flood, the water level rises quickly, within minutes or even seconds. A flash flood can rush down a canyon in a wall of water 12 feet high or more.Know the weather and flash flood potential forecasts before starting your trip. If bad weather threatens, do not enter a narrow canyon.
Flash floods occur even during periods of low flash flood potential. When the National Weather Service states that there is a 30 percent chance of rain, they are not stating that there is a 30 percent chance that it will rain. They are stating that 30 percent of the forecast area will be affected by measurable precipitation. Continuously evaluate weather conditions. If bad weather threatens, avoid traveling in a slot canyon.
Watch for these indications of a possible flash flood:
If you observe any of these signs, seek higher ground immediately. Even climbing a few feet may save your life. Remain on high ground until conditions improve. Water levels usually drop within 24 hours. Flash floods do occur in the park during periods of low flash flood potential. A moderate or higher flash flood potential should be a serious cause for concern.
Just as we cannot always forecast the effects of weather, we cannot judge the burdens of others. There is only One who can do that. Nevertheless, King Mosiah imparted guidelines to help us navigate this foreign territory with confidence, and the Church today offers many ways for us to serve and impart of our substance to fellow travelers along the roads of life. And even when we can’t, the mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ lifts us when we stumble.
Gratefully, we have been given guidelines (commandments if you will) to protect and help us through life’s difficult moments. A favorite analogy of mine is given by Brad Wilcox (Brad Wilcox – Don’t go Bungee Jumping without the cord) He talks about the importance of the harness that fastens the bungee cord to the participant. One would be sorely mistaken to say “Oh this harness is too confining. I can’t jump with this fastened to me,” while the harness and cord are actually what makes bungee jumping possible and keeps the participants safe and alive.
“But it is so restrictive. I want to be free.” It is easy to see the significance when we consider the implications of bungee jumping without a cord or harness or jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. This reasoning sounds crazy to us and is not something any of us would consider or seriously entertain. Yet this principle has the same effect when choosing to keep the commandments. Floundering throughout life recklessly without direction is as ludicrous as bungee jumping or parachuting without the proper safety mechanisms.
That’s why our Heavenly Father has given us commandments, guidance, and ordinances that we might have the direction we need so we can return to him and reach our potentials as his sons and daughters. Yet on occasion we may be dishonest or lazy or guilty and think there is no consequence to our poor decisions. There is always a consequence, and whether bungee jumping, camping in Southern Utah, or living life in any other situation, circumstance or surrounding – we can learn a lot from following good examples and listening to those who know from experience.
Often good examples have faced similar circumstances, and we can see how their good choices cast light on our impending decisions—if we take time to look and see. So many good men and women and children all around us, set an example, buoy us up, and give us encouragement despite significant challenges. A wonderful example of this is the apostle Paul. Just doing a cursory study of his life, I learned he was imprisoned dozens of times and suffered continuously as he preached Christ.
Life IS hard, but the hope we have in Jesus Christ is greater. Paul knew that and because of this knowledge, he changed his focus and spent his life serving the Lord. In very difficult circumstances, he continued to be faithful. And whether or not he knew it then, his example changed history. His efforts helped the struggling church in the meridian of time and his influence changed the face of Christianity throughout the world in that day and continues to impact seekers of light today.
Some may argue that he was an exception and out-of-the-ordinary. I agree that his life was anything but ordinary, but an exception he was not. Many of those that stand for Christ are ridiculed and mocked. Yet he taught that by faith, all things are possible, and we are all compensated for diligently seeking the Savior Jesus Christ and witnessing of him. By faith, our righteous desires are rewarded and our suffering is hallowed for our gain. We have many examples of people who are faithful like Paul and true to their word.
That’s not to say we won’t have challenging circumstances, difficulties, and face hardship. We most assuredly will. But the difficulties we meet will come to be cherished, if we let the power of God work within us to change our hearts and gratefully receive the perfect brightness of hope we have through Jesus Christ.
The gift and power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is available to us all in the midst of our challenges at the very moment of our greatest need. But because he loves us and wants what is best for us, he allows circumstances where we struggle. Just as we push our limits when we exercise and strive to do our best, life gives us opportunities to enhance our commitment and gain strength by overcoming difficult circumstances. We can do hard things. He expects that of us.
It’s not a punishment when our trainer helping us exercise asks us to do one more rep and push our limits. In fact, we often pat him on the back and thank him for encouraging us and helping us go the distance. We appreciate his services to keep encouraging us to do better than we did yesterday and go the extra mile—consistently endure to the end—especially when the going gets tough.
We will receive the righteous desires of our hearts. Life is a necessary test. Despite the good all around us, we have many challenges, as well. Some do not have family and friends that set good examples. Unemployment, accidents, loss, and deprivation are also prevalent for some. Yet, the answer to all our woes is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our watchword. Because his gospel has been restored in its fullness, we receive of many blessings the Lord has in store for us.
Whether they come in this life or the next, they come. We are led by a prophet of God, and the Church encourages, helps, and inspires us through difficulties. As such, the gospel of Jesus Christ provides a sure way to resolving our individual challenges today, tomorrow, and throughout eternity. Without him, salvation is not possible. With him, our salvation and exaltation is assured, if we do our best to follow him and pursue righteous intentions.
Christ set an example for us and promises our success if we follow him. We can receive the righteous desires of our hearts. Life is a necessary test.
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. John 17:24
If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor. John 12:26
But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also. D&C 132:23
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. John 14:3
I know for myself that God is real. His influence has changed my life and altered its outcome. His handiwork has been apparent during my time here on earth in the eyes of my wife and family and as a result of my experiences and challenges.
Because of the great examples all around me, I have personally seen the effects of his mercy and love for decades.
To see, all I really had to do was look.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.