Friend to Friend: Staying on Course


Ronald T. Halverson
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3).

Staying on Course

As a boy in Ogden, Utah, I loved to go to the movies with my brothers on Saturdays. We were each given a dime, and we walked to the nearby theater for a double-feature movie. One of our favorite stars was a cowboy actor named Tom Mix. After the movies, we walked home.

One Saturday, my brother Phil lagged behind, and I arrived home first. “Where’s your younger brother?” my mother asked. A little later, we found out that Phil had been hit by a car while he was crossing a street on the way home. He was hurt very seriously. His skull was fractured, and when we first saw him, his eyes were swollen to several times their normal size.

Our stake president came to the hospital, and he and my father gave Phil a blessing. Then we all prayed. As we did, a calm feeling came over my dad, and he knew that Phil would live. When the doctor arrived, he immediately told the nurses to lower my brother’s head. That decision went against how such injuries are treated, but it saved his life. Years later, we learned that his brain sac had ruptured—had his head not been lowered, he would have died. Although he was in a coma for months, one day he squeezed my dad’s hand and we knew that Phil could hear us. His recovery was very long and slow, but he had no lasting mental or physical problems from that terrible accident. I know that this happened because of the power of the priesthood.

I learned a lot about the gospel from my mother. I would come home from Primary and ask her questions. She would be preparing dinner or making sweet rolls, and I’d sit in the doorway while she talked to me. She taught me about the temple. She taught me how to keep my life clean and pure so that I could go there someday. She helped me understand that this was not something I had to do, but something I would want to do so I could be close to the Lord. Ever since those days, my quest in life has been to know God and draw close to Him.

One of the things that will help you be close to the Lord is prayer. My first memory of learning to pray was kneeling on my bed with my arms around my mother. She’d listen to me pour out my thoughts and feelings to Heavenly Father. I hope that you will always pray for guidance, night and morning. Then be observant, because those prayers will be answered.

When I was about eight years old, my dad bought each of us boys a six-month-old horse. We started riding them when they were young. We rode them in the Ogden Pioneer Days parade.

When I was a few years older, Dad sometimes took us into the mountain canyons on horseback. One day, I needed to return home before the others for some reason. I had never done this alone before. When I came to one fork in the trail, I did not know which way to go. But I knew that Heavenly Father knew. So I got off my horse and knelt in prayer. After I got back on my horse, something inside me said, “Give the horse his rein and let him go where he wants.” I did that, and in about fifteen minutes, I came into a clearing and could see the way to go.

From the time I was about ten, I milked a cow every day and worked in a large garden and with horses and other animals. But when I got to high school, I decided to learn to fly airplanes. So I took an aeronautics class and I learned about the weather and how to read maps. I learned about a flight simulator, a device that lets you practice flying without actually being in an airplane.

I really love flying, and learning to fly has taught me something important about how to get safely back home to Heavenly Father. There are several ways to fly an airplane. Many years ago, pilots had to guide their airplanes using their own eyes to watch for landmarks on the ground. They could not fly on cloudy days because they could not see the ground. During World War I, pilots flying at night would look for bonfires on the ground below as signals to them where to fly.

A second way to fly an airplane is to use a compass to stay on a certain course. If your course is off by only two or three degrees, however, you will be many miles off course by the end of your journey.

The third way to fly—and the safest and best way—is to communicate with air traffic controllers. Using radar, they can watch your path and the paths of other airplanes. They know if you are heading in an unsafe direction and can guide you to stay on course.

How can you keep your life on the course that will take you home to Heavenly Father? You can do this by staying in constant contact with Him through prayer. He can see things that you cannot see. And if you will stay in constant contact with Him, He will lovingly lead you back home.

[photo] As a missionary to Norway

[photo] At four years of age

[photo] Riding with Phil (left)

[photo] With his family

[photo] Holding the A in the top row at a ward birthday celebration

[photo] With Phil (left) and his parents in New York, New York, on their way to meet his older brother, Dale, coming home from serving a mission in Norway

[photo] With his bride, Linda