Viewpoint: Stay in the Boat

Contributed By the Church News

  • 8 March 2015

Just as a river guide stressed the importance of staying in the boat on a rafting trip, members can find safety from the storms of life by staying strong in the Church and “staying in the boat.”

Article Highlights

  • As trials come in life, the safest place to be is in the Church—just as a river guide’s rule for those in his raft is to “stay in the boat.”

“Most of us experience periods in our lives where the tranquil waters of life are appreciated. At other times, we encounter white-water rapids that are metaphorically comparable to those found in the 14-mile stretch through Cataract Canyon.” —Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve

In the late 1930s, a man passing through a town in the southeastern United States met a pair of Mormon missionaries on a street corner. He wasn’t interested in their message, but he was interested in the missionaries. He wanted to know who they were, where they were from, and where they were going.

During the conversation, he learned that the elders walked from town to town and planned, eventually, to go to a community near his parents’ home. He gave them directions to his parents’ home. He told them that even if they didn’t want to listen to their message his parents would invite them to share a meal.

Several days later, the elders found the home, introduced themselves, and were welcomed in for a hearty meal and the offer of a place to spend the night. The next day, the elders were invited to stay longer. The missionaries taught the gospel to the mother and father and, eventually, to seven adult children. The mother and six of the children and some of their spouses joined the Church. Over the years, the home out in the country became a stopping-off place for missionaries who traveled through the area. It was a place where they could get their clothes washed and mended, their shoes repaired, and where they could rest.

The nearest unit of the Church was more than 60 miles away. For many years, the family’s only contact with the Church was when various pairs of elders stopped at the home. Eventually, a small branch of the Church was established about 10 miles from the parents’ home. Finally, family members could attend Church meetings.

One researching the family’s history might expect to find stories of stalwart pioneers who helped establish the Church in their part of the country. However, only the mother, one son, and two daughters remained active in the Church.

About 20 years after the family joined the Church, anti-Mormon stories began circulating; some were published in newspapers near their home. Friends and neighbors believed the stories more than what the family tried to tell them about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Thus began the falling away from the Church among members of that family.

Descendants of family members who left the Church number in the hundreds. They are fine people and good neighbors in their communities. Most are active in their churches and do much good. Yet how much richer would their lives be had their grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents remained faithful Latter-day Saints, thereby bringing untold blessings of the gospel to their lives.

In 3 Nephi 1:29, we read of many children who were “led away by some who were Zoramites, by their lyings and their flattering words.”

Some critics of the Church today employ the tactics of the Zoramites: they employ lies and flattery to draw members and others away from the truth.

During last October’s general conference, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told of a friend who took his son on a trip with others down the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon, famous for its 14 miles of white-water rapids.

Elder Ballard said: “At the beginning of the trip, one of the experienced river guides reviewed important safety instructions, emphasizing three rules that would ensure the group’s safe travel through the rapids. ‘Rule number one: stay in the boat! Rule number two: always wear a life jacket! Rule number three: always hold on with both hands!’ He then said again, with even more emphasis, ‘Above all, remember rule number one: stay in the boat!’

“This adventure reminds me of our mortal journey,” Elder Ballard said. “Most of us experience periods in our lives where the tranquil waters of life are appreciated. At other times, we encounter white-water rapids that are metaphorically comparable to those found in the 14-mile stretch through Cataract Canyon—challenges that may include physical and mental health issues, the death of a loved one, dashed dreams and hopes, and—for some—even a crisis of faith when faced with life’s problems, questions, and doubts.”

Elder Ballard quoted Brigham Young: “We are on the old ship Zion. … [God] is at the helm and will stay there. … All is right, sing Hallelujah, for the Lord is here. He dictates, guides and directs. If the people will have implicit confidence in their God, never forsake their covenants nor their God, He will guide us right” (“Remarks,” Deseret News, Nov. 18, 1857, 291).

President Thomas S. Monson said: “It is impossible to stand upright when one plants his roots in the shifting sands of popular opinion and approval. Needed is the courage of a Daniel, an Abinadi, a Moroni, or a Joseph Smith in order for us to hold strong and fast to that which we know is right. They had the courage to do not that which was easy but that which was right.

“We will all face fear, experience ridicule, and meet opposition. Let us—all of us—have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval. Courage becomes a living and an attractive virtue when it is regarded not only as a willingness to die manfully but also as the determination to live decently. As we move forward, striving to live as we should, we will surely receive help from the Lord and can find comfort in His words. I love His promise recorded in the book of Joshua:

“‘I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. …

“‘… Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest’ (Joshua 1:5, 9)” (“Be Strong and of a Good Courage,” Apr. 2014 general conference).

May we all have the courage of our convictions that we might be swayed more by the truths of the Lord than the lies of others.