“Want to come sliding after school?” “Sure,” I said. I was seven years old and the newest boy at Garnet Hill School in Glasgow, Scotland. I wasn’t sure what sliding meant, but I was eager to make friends.
Soon we stood by an iron fence. Beyond it, a steep concrete slope fell away between high walls to the base of a building. The slope had been polished like glass by countless children’s leather-soled shoes, making it smooth and slippery—perfect for sliding.
I was a little afraid as I followed my new friends over the fence. I knew that we were trespassing. But I quickly forgot my fear as I hunkered down and pushed off on my first thrilling, wind-whistling, world-blurring slide. Getting back up the slippery slope was a lot harder. I had to push away from the building, run as fast as I could, and grab the iron fence when I reached the top to keep from sliding backward.
Sliding and climbing, I lost all track of time until the rain started falling. We took shelter against the building at the foot of the slope, waiting for the rain to stop. Soon it started getting dark. “I’ve got to go home,” I said. “Mum and Dad will be worried.”
But I made it only halfway up the slope before sliding back down. The rain had made the concrete slipperier than ever. After several desperate tries, we all gave up. We were trapped! The night grew darker as rain continued to drizzle. We didn’t dare call for help, because we were afraid we’d get in trouble for being there. Huddled at the bottom of the slide, cold and fearful, we began to cry.
After what seemed like a long time, a beam of light shone down on us and we heard the gruff voice of the local bobby, or police officer: “Get on up here!”
“We can’t! It’s too slippery!” a quavering voice answered.
Climbing over the fence, the bobby took hold of the iron fence with one hand and leaned down as far as he could. One at a time we scrambled halfway up the slope and grabbed his outstretched hand. After pulling us all to safety, he gave us a friendly scolding and sent us hurrying home to our parents.
When I later joined the Church, my childhood rescue helped me understand the Savior’s role in the plan of salvation. We cannot return to our Father in Heaven on our own. Our sins lie between us and Heavenly Father like a steep slope that we cannot climb. But a loving Savior extends His hand to rescue us from sin, just as the bobby reached down to save us from the slick concrete. But the bobby reached down only so far. We had to do our part by climbing up as far as we possibly could. Likewise, we must repent of our sins and do our very best to keep the commandments. The Savior does the rest.
The relief I felt in going home to my parents was only a small taste of the joy we can feel in being rescued by the Savior and returning to our Heavenly Father.
“To you is extended the peace and renewal of repentance available through the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Personal Purity,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 78.