Imagine that you are about to go explore the Artic. As you step off the plane into the frigid Arctic winds, you realize that you do not have a coat, boots, nor any other necessary item for survival in this harsh environment.
None of us is so foolish as to travel to somewhere as unforgiving as the Artic without so much as a coat to protect us from the elements. Yet how many of us, week in and week out, go through our days without taking the time to plan and prepare for the unforgiving forces that attack ourselves and our families on a daily basis?
The above imagery struck me strongly when President M. Russell Ballard shared it as an analogy to our preparation for facing this life’s challenges. He said:
It is such a logical thing to prepare for danger or discomfort in the natural world. Mountain climbers are very careful to pack the proper gear. Arctic explorers do not wait until the blasts of subzero winds strike them to decide what clothing they need. So why don’t we do the same in our spiritual lives? Remember: “It is better to prepare and prevent than it is to repair and repent.” [Quote by President Ezra Taft Benson]
Oh, my dear brothers and sisters, this is the day of your probation. Do not waste this time away. Plan and prepare and then do.
Missionaries take one day a week to set goals and write out a plan for their week to help them accomplish their goals. This is a pattern used by many successful individuals. Displayed on our fridge, we have an old, yellowed newspaper clipping. Written on it are statements by Randal A. Wright, author and founder of Achieving Your Life Mission’s website.
Self-discipline is a rigorous process that requires dedication and commitment.
Self-discipline is how people get to be achievers.
Nothing can be accomplished without a desire to do it and the self-discipline to put forth hard work.
Scheduling time to plan and then carrying through on those plans do not come naturally to me. I love to write out lists of things I want to do! My childhood journals are full of such lists:
- Learn sign language
- Learn to make artisanal breads
- Write a book
- Visit the Taj Mahal in India
However wonderful I am at writing lists of things I want to do, I lack follow-through! I struggle with the smaller steps that make these larger goals possible. I struggle with the daily actions that would make achieving these large goals even possible.
Occasionally, I will take the time to sit down, pick a larger goal, and break it down into smaller goals. ONLY when I have actually put these smaller goals onto my calendar and then daily follow-through have I achieved these few goals.
These steps actually worked when I trained for, and successfully completed, my first half marathon. However, running a race is not the most important priority in my life—successfully completing this time of probation we call life is my first priority. How often am I sitting down to consider that goal? How often do I break down that goal into its multitude of smaller goals and put those onto the calendar so that they are a part of my daily life?
In the same talk by President Ballard, he describes the spiritual armor we need for this life.
I like to think of this spiritual armor not as a solid piece of metal molded to fit the body but more like chain mail. Chain mail consists of dozens of tiny pieces of steel fastened together to allow the user greater flexibility without losing protection. I say that because it has been my experience that there is not one great and grand thing we can do to arm ourselves spiritually. True spiritual power lies in numerous smaller acts woven together in a fabric of spiritual fortification that protects and shields from all evil.
It is a common expression to talk about the “chinks” in a person’s armor. The definition of the word chink is “a small cleft, slit, or fissure.” Should an arrow strike exactly one of the chinks in one’s armor, a fatal wound can result.
You need to find a time and place where you can be alone with Heavenly Father and pour out your heart to Him, that you might add strength and power to your spiritual lives. Every honest and sincere prayer adds another piece to chain-mail armor.
In addition to prayer, we have scripture study, fasting, temple attendance, family history work, missionary work, serving & ministering to others … There is simply no end to the good we can do if we but take the time to stop and prioritize our time according to our main goal in this life: to become like our Savior.
Growing up all over the world gave Emlee Taylor an opportunity to see the incredible differences the Lord created in humanity; and even better, the passions we all share as members of the human race: love for family, faith, & a desire to make a difference. Emlee lives life with passion—focusing her time now on raising four children and teaching them to recognize truth and to live true to that truth, regardless of others’ expectations. Emlee is passionately in love with her bestest friend and husband of more than 20 years.