Editorial Comment Issue 64
Many years ago, as a member of Zion’s League and living in the St. Louis, MO area, an event, though somewhat inconsequential at the moment, has given me the opportunity to reflect several times upon what happened and its lasting lesson learned – although not fully understood until these many years later.
In those days of carefree youth, we were a busy and active Zion’s League organization.
The St. Louis District was fortunate to have a husband and wife team, Glen and Zelmar Bond, be the district’s Youth Leaders. They were very much the outdoors family and, along with their three boys, all good friends of mine. They were always providing ways for any young person to be in the water or in the woods, learning from and enjoying the rich fellowship of those days.
On this particular day, while boating and swimming in the Meramec River, a group of us young men decided to swim from one side of the river to the other. It was not an especially long distance, but long enough to challenge the bravest of all of us young men. Somewhere midstream, I gave out. I simply couldn’t swim any farther. As I bobbed up and down in the water, I discovered that the bottom of the river was just deep enough that my head was about six inches from the surface of the water. Like a cork, I bobbed up and down, touching the riverbed with my feet, pushing off and surfacing for air – again and again – all the while slowly being drawn further downstream by the current.
Glen apparently noticed me in distress and brought his motorboat quickly along side of me, reached out, and took my hand. He asked me if I was all right. What a relief I felt. Someone’s hand in mine, getting ready to lift me out of my predicament. But he didn’t.
After a brief time, he asked if I could make it back to the riverbank. When I said I thought I could, he gave me a little push and I was off on my own again, now swimming back upstream and towards the campsite. It was a struggle, but I made it, on my own, with just a bit of help.
So, what have I learned from this? I suppose the greatest lesson was that, in our times of stress and trial, we often aren’t “removed” from the circumstances surrounding us, but must dig deep inside of ourselves to battle against the seemingly overpowering forces threatening to carry us away or destroy us. As Remnant Saints, these past fifteen years have not been easy ones. We have struggled against forces of the world, of Satan, and sometimes of our own making, in our effort to “swim across the river.” We have sometimes found the riverbed a bit deeper than we anticipated, the current a bit stronger than we thought, and our physical and spiritual strength weaker than we supposed. But the hand of God has always been there, reaching out to support and assist us when necessary.
He has not yet lifted us out of our difficult challenges, but He is always asking us if we are all right. He has then, many times, encouraged us to continue to swim forward, not to return to our former campsite that was comfortable and safe. Yes, He’s even thrown us a few life jackets when needed. Some of us He’s perhaps even taken the time to teach us to swim.
As we look at the rest of this 2015 year, do we find ourselves swimming strongly and decisively toward the Kingdom goal? Do we have the strength and desire to commit ourselves to never stopping, never faltering, in our singular purpose for this life? Yes, the river of life desires to take us from the far shore. The water is deep in places. We do get tired. We do get weak. But there is a hand out there reaching for us, a presence nearby that wants nothing more than to see us, stroke after stroke, make our way to that far, distant shore. Perhaps this will be the year of fulfillment for us. If not, shall we swim on, and on, and on?
Ralph W. Damon
For the First Presidency