Vince Lombardi once said: "Fatigue makes cowards of us all," and let me add that Mr. Lombardi's counsel is true whether that fatigue has spiritual, physical, or emotional causes at its root. We've all felt it from time to time. We know it will pass, though we often can't dispel it in the moment of our need. This weekend, peace came in beautiful music, through sweet association with old friends, and in messages of hope and empowerment.
The words and stories weren't new. Perhaps it was my state of mind that made them fresh, or perhaps it was the evocative delivery that made them ring so true. In either case, they slingshot-ed me out of my foxhole, injecting optimism back in my heart. Every message was wonderful, (probably a sign that I had succeeded in adjusting my attitude for good reception), but a few closing points made by our visiting Church authority, really resonated with me--
1. "Yet if Thou wilt, I'll drink it up."
2. Sometimes we need the faith to do the impossible.
3. Get out of the boat!
Point one comes directly from the fourth verse of LDS hymn 191, "Behold the Great Redeemer Die," the point being, hard things will come.
In the September 2009 Ensign article titled, "Lessons From Liberty Jail," Elder Jeffrey R. Holland warns us with painful honesty, "In one way or another, great or small, dramatic or incidental, every one of us is going to spend a little time in Liberty Jail—spiritually speaking. We will face things we do not want to face for reasons that may not be our fault. Indeed, we may face difficult circumstances for reasons that were absolutely right and proper, reasons that came because we were trying to keep the commandments of the Lord."
God knows us. He knows what we're going through. He can and will consecrate them for our good, but what these events do to us, or for us, relies in large part, on how we handle our circumstances. Will we drink them up, or choke on them? Some of these experiences will make us better, wiser, stronger, more compassionate, more grateful, they'll move us onto a new path, open a new door we wouldn't have seen with our own half-closed eyes. In short, follow God, drink it up, and become more holy.
How do we do that? That's point two--having the faith to do the impossible. Now faith to do the impossible isn't a license to be reckless or irresponsible, but to follow inspiration, to leap further than you believed you could, past the light and a step into the darkness. It means to stretch muscles--spiritual and physical--beyond your comfort because He asked you to, and because like all proud fathers, He's at the finish line cheering you on.
And where do we begin? By getting out of the boat. Remember Peter? For a second, he believed he could do the impossible, and though he eventually faltered, what did he learn about Jesus, about himself, and about his relationship to divinity because of the few seconds when he did not fear? And it all began because he had the courage and faith to simply get out of the boat.
That's my motto this week--to get out of the boat! My boats are many. They pen me in and keep me . . . safe? Perhaps, but they also limit me and define my boundaries. I want to be unbounded and filled with possibilities.
What are your boats? What keeps you bounded? Weak faith? Fear of failure? Age? Lack of education? An over-scheduled life? What if none of those things had any power to define you? What would you try? What would you become? So long as our ears are tuned to His voice, we have no fear to walk, even on water. Peter did it, even if just for a few steps. But first, we have to have the courage to get out of the boat.
(Painting, "Fishermen at Sea" by Joseph Mallord William Turner)