Conquering Mountains – Ward Conference January 9, 2011
In the June of my last year of undergraduate studies at BYU I was at a crossroads in my life. There was much I needed to pray about so I determined to make it different from my day to day prayers and I put I put much thought and consideration into the place where I would pray and the preparations I would make to ready myself for it.
I had decided that a particular mountain peak several miles up the canyon behind my home would be a place where I would feel closer to Heavenly Father. There were many things that I did not anticipate and had I known what was in store for me and how my life might be threatened I probably would have done things differently.
What I did know was that even though I wanted to fast it was not a good idea to go without water on a hike of this magnitude so I chose to drink plenty of water and I set out on my journey. I of course told my mother where I was going and what time I expected to be home. The hike was only 6 miles each way but what I had not anticipated was the amount of snow pack still present even with summer about to begin.
Within the first mile I had to take a slight deviation from the trail because the heavy spring run off had washed it out. With my goal in mind and a quick detour I safely got around the problem area and was again on my way. About 3 miles into it and about 8000 feet above sea level the snow was increasingly present in the shaded areas. By the time I’d put 5 miles behind me I was starting to feel fatigued and began to question the wisdom of my trek.
I’d come this far and was not about to turn back even though the last mile and the remaining 800 vertical feet would prove the most daunting and dangerous I was committed to go on.
My boots and pant legs were wet from the snow I’d already encountered but the snow this high up was crusted over making it impossible to know just how deep it was. I felt that if I stayed on top of the crust I could make good time getting to the peak spending some time in prayer and meditation with the Lord that I wanted to and then making the return trip.
It soon became apparent that I had underestimated this as well. On the steeper parts I seemed to slide back one step for every two forward. Although it was progress it was arduous and time consuming not to mention it was draining me of what little energy I had stored from meals of the previous day.
At one point I broke through the crust up to my arm pits in snow and quickly scrambled to get myself out, cutting my bare arms on the icy snow. With the goal now in site I pressed on and found myself finally at the peak where I had intended on supplicating my Heavenly Father for guidance in my life. Frankly at this point the only thing on my mind was to ask that my life be preserved and that I make it safely home again. I sat down and pulled my scriptures from my pack and discovered a Tootsie Pop sucker in the bottom of the pack. No doubt forgotten there months earlier to provide the dose of sugar that would get me off that mountain. I took out the camera and took a couple of haggard self portraits as thoughts of search and rescue finding me frozen there days later flooded my mind. I then opened the scriptures and read from Enos 4th verse.
And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.
With the sugar now in my blood stream I was feeling more alert and keenly aware that I needed to get home before the temperature started to drop. I spotted a good walking stick repacked my things and headed straight down the mountain. Using the stick as a rudder I was able to lean back and essentially ski down the steep slope that had taken me almost an hour to climb in a matter of minutes.
With a spring returned to my step I made my way home eager to see my family and have something to eat.
Had this experience been my wrestle with God? What was I to learn from all of this. I did not come down from the salt river range like Moses did from Sinai. My hair was not streaked with grey (that didn’t start til I received my present calling ;o)
What I learned is that we need to always be prepared for the unexpected.
We need to have constant nourishment in this case physically but more importantly spiritually. What may seem a simple task may prove to be more challenging than we had anticipated but we have it within us as children of God to overcome.
We will undoubtedly make mistakes and similar to when I broke through the crust in this world we live in we may almost be swallowed up by all that wrong in it and as we struggle to dig our way out of all we may be cut and bleed and in many cases have scars even after the healing has taken place.
Our Heavenly Father has given us things to help us along the way. Our friends and families are like walking sticks that will help bear us up and give us stability.
The scriptures are both a map and a compass that is we follow will lead us to eternity.
And sometimes when we least expect it, when all seems lost, we will find just that little something extra in the bottom of our packs that will give us what we need to get us home.
Throughout that summer I hiked quite a bit and by August I took on Mount Timpanogas and made the hike with relative ease. This only happened because I had conditioned myself over time.
President Heber J Grant said, "That which we persist in doing becomes easy to do, not that the nature of the task has changed, but that our capacity to do has increased."
This is true of all the mountains we must face in our lives and I promise each of you that you will conquer if you put yourself to the task.
I know that God Lives.
I know that he loves us.
I know that he wants us to make it home safely
I know that he sent his son Jesus Christ to make that possible.
In closing I share with you 2 Nephi 31:20
20Wherefore, ye must press forward with a asteadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of bhope, and a clove of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and dendure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eeternal life.
21And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the away; and there is bnone other way nor cname given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the ddoctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the eFather, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is fone God, without end. Amen.