In 1988, my father took two of my brothers and two of their friends on a trip to Lake Powell on our boat. It was tradition to take a yearly trip to Lake Powell and my parents were always willing allow us to invite friends. My brothers looked forward to these trips. Lake Powell is known for its beautiful red rock and blue water. If you wake up early enough, the water is “like glass”, as my brothers would say, and perfect for skiing.
They had been out on the boat much of the day, the five of them, enjoying the sun and the water. They noticed a storm in the distance and decided they better head back. You see, storms on Lake Powell come in hard and fast. They are unpredictable and can be devastating. On their way back to their own camp, they saw another boat in need of a tow, so they stopped and helped tow the boat to safety, but by that point it had started to get dark. The storm had begun.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
They knew they had to get to safety, and so they headed back towards their camp. As they did so it became totally dark. They couldn’t see anything. The waves were enormous, taller than my father, so they pulled the boat into a canyon with tall cliffs surrounding them. This is one of the beautiful things about Lake Powell. The canyon walls sometimes rise straight up out of the water for over 100 feet. This canyon protected them somewhat from the wind, but they couldn’t anchor to anything in the canyon as the walls went straight up, and the rocks below were too deep. They began to circle in a very small circle so the boat didn’t crash against the tall canyon walls.
The wind continued to blow, so they put up the boat cover over them. There was no break in the storm. My dad suddenly realized, “We cannot keep circling. We are going to run out of gas.”
At that point, they realized that they needed to see where they were and get their bearings so they knew how far they were from camp. As they got out the map they found they were in Last Chance Bay.
They decided to make a break for it, and headed out into the channel again. Immediately, the power of the storm overtook them. The wind tore the cover off the boat and the waves were overwhelming. They turned the boat around and returned to the safety of Last Chance Bay.
They decided to check their gear. They checked life jackets. They were one life jacket short. Five men, four life jackets, and a storm that would not abate.
In the midst of all this, my brother Grant said, “I think we better have a prayer.”
I do not know the words that were spoken in that prayer on the boat that day, but I imagine that in those very moments of darkness, a simple plea was sent up to heaven for safety — that all five of them would be protected. I imagine they prayed for a safe haven from the storm.
Shortly after the prayer, the storm seemed to subside for a moment. They put Grant out on the bow of the boat with a flashlight. He was to watch for rocks so they wouldn’t crash into any rocks. It was so dark they could only see a few feet in front of them. They left Last Chance Bay and started out into the channel again. As they left the bay, they saw a small light in the darkness. Even though they couldn’t see more than 10 feet in front of them, they could see the light in the distance. They knew they had to follow the light as it was their only point of guidance in the utter darkness of the storm.
They continued to drive in what seemed like slow motion, determined not to hit any rocks. The storm seemed to begin again. Waves continued crashing against the boat and the darkness was overwhelming.
Then, the light disappeared.
In that very moment, the boat came directly into a small inlet of sand. An island. They didn’t have to turn the wheel or seek it out, the boat was seemingly directed exactly to the point of safety. They anchored the boat and got out on an island about 30 by 30 feet: an island of sand that they never could have found on their own in that storm. They had to camp and stay there all night. They were wet, but they were safe.
Later, as they looked at the map, this was the only island in the entire bay. This was the only haven of safety within their reach. The island was so small that it didn’t even show on some of the maps.
I want to share with you some lessons I think we can all learn from this story as we each embark on our own individual journeys in this life.
We each journey through life. We need to make sure that we have the appropriate gear to make it through. Like the story of the 10 virgins from the New Testament, we must be vigilant and fill our lamps. Pray, but don’t just pray mechanically. Your Heavenly Father is there and is listening. He knows you and wants to have a deep relationship with you. Read your scriptures. Keep the Sabbath day holy. Love and serve others. The Lord needs servants who are prepared to stand in the midst of the storm.
As part of the preparation process, you must know who you are. Elder Bradley Foster recently stated: “We are engaged in a battle with the world. In the past, the world competed for our children’s energy and time. Today, it fights for their identity and mind…We must win this battle. Everything depends on it.”
Knowing that we are children of God is more important now than ever. We live in a world where evil is disguised as good, where standing up for what is right is challenged, and where the popular opinion is not always the righteous opinion.
The adversary knows that we are children of God. He knows it, and he wants each of us to get too busy, too distracted, too stressed or overwhelmed that we forget. He wants you to believe that you aren’t special, or beautiful, or valuable in God’s kingdom. That is a lie. Every person is a wanted and needed part in Heavenly Father’s plan. God loves you. You are His. Don’t ever forget who you are.
When the storms come, ask God for help.
In this story, my dad and brothers had done all they could in the storm to have a plan and find safety, but they came up short.
There will be times in each of our lives when we will face a storm and come up short. Perhaps, you may even find you are a life jacket short and the decisions ahead seem overwhelming. In these moments, don’t allow discouragement and fear to overtake you. As Elder Holland has said, “Don’t you quit. You keep walking, you keep trying, there is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon. Some come late. Some don’t come until heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in Good Things to Come.”
Turn to your Heavenly Father. In those very moments of utter darkness and turmoil, He will direct you. Perhaps, the storm will not abate. You may not see angels come down from heaven, or lightening strike down those who have hurt you. But, I testify to you, that a light will come into your mind and heart, and you will know what step you must take next.
Follow the light.
Follow that light. Hold onto it with all that you have, and do not allow the darkness to overcome you.
Before the Savior’s death on the earth, he gave us this direction: “While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. “ John 12:36
The interesting thing about light is that it can pierce even the very darkest times. You can see a light from miles away, even from the very Heavens.
Think of the symbol God Himself used to share with the world the birth of His only begotten Son. It was light. The Savior is the light of the world. That star symbolizes Him. The light symbolizes Christ in your life. Jesus Christ is the light of the world, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened.
As we face the storms of life, the Savior can be a neverending light in our lives.
Share your light with others.
Finally, the power of this experience with my dad and brothers would have had no effect on me if I had not known about it. As they shared this experience with me, I knew in my own heart that a miracle had occurred. God had spared the lives of my own father and four young men. Not only had He spared them, He taught them a powerful lesson about faith. When they shared this experience with me, my own faith grew. I hope that as I share this experience with you, your faith will grow.
My final point is this: we must not only have faith in Christ, we must share our experiences with others. You see, faith is contagious. It is glorifying and redeeming. And, sometimes when your life is seemingly filled with darkness and you have lost the light, the light of another will bring hope, comfort, and peace into our lives.
As President Thomas S. Monson stated recently in conference, we can be a light to others. That light within us will draw others closer to Christ. As the Savior said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
I know God answers prayers. It isn’t always in the way we want or expect, but He is there. He hears. He wants us to seek Him out and ask. Like that light at Last Chance Bay, God will provide a light in our minds and hearts that will give us a point of direction. We always have a place to turn.
So, go ahead. Embark on your journey. As you do, I hope that you each feel God’s light in your life today.