One Who Moves Forward

I was asked to speak in sacrament last week. Posting the results here so that I may return and learn from it again at some future date.

Having just celebrated Pioneer Day and with the upcoming Pioneer Trek for our youth, we turn our thoughts back in time to those that made it possible for us to be sitting here today, the ones that have gone before us in life. Webster's Dictionary defines the word pioneer as "To go before, to prepare or open a way for others to follow". Being the oldest of eight children in my family, I naturally had several 'pioneer' moments growing up. The earliest one when I left my siblings at home to play while I went off to start school. Then the day I was Baptized comes to mind, after that learning to drive, requesting my patriarchal blessing, getting married, and to even the most recent distinct pioneer moment when we had to let my Dad go and it was time to leave the hospital. After living for 5 days in the waiting room of the thoracic intensive care unit in Salt Lake City, Craig and I were the first to leave. I distinctly remember the strange peace that settled over me as we picked up our things and walked out into the daylight. Moving forward that day definitely felt like a huge Pioneer moment.

In the recent April General Conference Elder L. Whitney Clayton spoke of a young 7 year old girl who survived a plane crash that took the lives of the rest of her family. After calling out and realizing she was the only one left, she courageously set off barefoot across the hills of Kentucky in search of help. Stumbling through the darkness she spotted a light in the distance. With cuts and scrapes and a broken wrist she fought her way through the rough countryside toward that light where a man took her into his care and helped her to the hospital for further care and healing. Having a little orange haired 7 year old myself, I am in awe of the strength of this young girl and her innate desire to move forward despite all that she had been through. She took courage in the fact that no matter how bad things were, her rescue would be found in the light. At some time or another, all of us will have to traverse our own spiritual wilderness and undertake our own rugged emotional journey. However dark and seemingly hopeless these moments might feel, if we choose to look for it, a light beckons us giving us the hope of rescue and relief. That light has forever been and will continue to shine from Jesus Christ, the Savior of all mankind.

In Doctrine and Covenants it states "O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day."
Being the theme for this year, our youth are coming to know the words of this scripture well. What their leaders, and parents, hope is that these words will fuse within them and become part of who they are as they learn and grow in testimony and in life. I have witnessed many of them reaching out in kindness and in service on their own which tells me this is taking place.
Like the word pioneer, embark suggests to the mind a new journey. A way of leaving something behind and moving forward. Naturally when our paths ahead are unwanted or unknown it is easy to allow our fears, worries and doubts overtake our ability to see any light ahead. Corrie Ten Boom once said "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength."

There is a scriptural account in Mark chapter 9 of a father who, in desperation for his afflicted son, sought for a miraculous healing from Jesus. With anguish the father pleads to Jesus:

"If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us, and help us.

"Jesus said unto him, if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

"And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief."

What we can learn from this account is eloquently described by Elder Holland:
"Without hesitation the father asserts his strength first, [with his declaration of "Lord I believe]" and only then acknowledges his limitation [with "help thou mine unbelief"]. In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is very limited."
There will always come moments in life when the resolution of a question, problem or troubling time will not immediately be given. Elder Holland encourages us, almost pleading with us to "hold fast to what you already know and [stay] strong until additional knowledge comes. Do not start your quest for faith by saying how much you do not have, leading as it were with your "unbelief." I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have."

In a clever movie released by DreamWorks, there is a story of a prehistoric family and their adventures as they are forced to embark on a journey when their cave, that has always shielded them from danger, is destroyed. In attempt to influence the family for what he thought was best, the father tells the bedtime story of a bear who listened to her father and lived her life in a cave of routine and darkness and fear. In regard to life in a cave, the daughter's response is accurate to the folly of this plan, she emphatically states "That wasn't living-it was just not dying".
Keeping our faith merely alive is very important, but tends to leave our feet planted in a spot that stunts our growth. If the little 7 year old girl had remained at the sight of the plane crash, she would have perished eventually, along with her family. Instead she gave everything she had, all her heart, might, mind, and strength to her desire and belief that moving forward would bring her what she needed. She had her own 'pioneer' moment.

In preparing this talk I asked myself these questions: What is a pioneer in my day, here and now? Am I a pioneer? Have I embarked in the service of God? Do I serve God with all of my heart, might, mind and strength?
The answer that came to me is that a pioneer is one that embarks on their journey with whatever amount of faith they do have, giving it all in the process despite the heartaches, cuts and scrapes, fears and worries. A pioneer is one who moves forward. In doing so we are paving the way for others. In our daily devotion to God and following His Son we mark the way for future generations through our children, or in service to our co-workers, neighbors and friends. As we traverse our own rough countryside trail we gain experience that is beneficial to our salvation and may even prove to be of help and use for another. As we live life in the light of Christ's gospel, we are being a pioneer.

"Whether we are young in years of age or young in years of membership or young in years of faith" may we all focus on the saving light of our Savior and press forward in our own pioneer trek, leading with whatever amount of faith we have. 
Choose to embark. Choose to move forward. Don't stay in the cave. Jesus Christ will help you on your way. He will heal your tired heart and broken spirit. I have felt this in my own life. I know that He lives. I close in that sacred name, even Jesus Christ, amen.


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