Come Listen to a Prophet’s Voice: The Race


Thomas S. Monson
From an April 1987 general conference address.

The Race

Each of us must face difficult tasks. President Monson teaches that we have help along the way.

In [everyone’s] conscience lies that spirit, that determination to measure up to the stature of true potential. But the way is rugged, and the course is [challenging]. So discovered John Helander from Göteborg, Sweden. John is handicapped, in that it is difficult for him to coordinate his motions.

At a youth conference in Kungsbacka, Sweden, John took part in a running race. He had no chance to win. Rather, his was the opportunity to be humiliated.

What a race it was! Struggling, surging, pressing, the runners bolted far beyond John. There was wonderment among the spectators. Who was this runner who lagged so far behind? The participants on their second lap of this two-lap race passed John while he was but halfway through the first lap. Tension mounted as the runners pressed toward the tape. Who would win? Who would place second? Then came the final burst of speed; the tape was broken. The crowd cheered; the winner was proclaimed.

The race was over—or was it? Who is this contestant who continues to run when the race is ended? He crosses the finish line on but his first lap. Doesn’t the foolish lad know he has lost? Ever onward he struggles, the only participant now on the track. Every eye is on this valiant runner. He makes the final turn and moves toward the finish line. There is awe; there is admiration. As John approaches the finish line, the audience, as one, rises to its feet. Stumbling, falling, exhausted but victorious, John Helander breaks the newly tightened tape. The cheering echoes for miles.

Each of us is a runner in the race of life. But you and I do not run alone. That vast audience of family, friends, and leaders will cheer our courage, will applaud our determination as we rise from our stumblings and pursue our goal. The race of life is not for sprinters running on a level track. The course is marked by pitfalls and checkered with obstacles. We take confidence from the hymn:

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, … omnipotent hand.

(“How Firm a Foundation,” Hymns, no. 85)

Let us shed any thought of failure. Let us discard any habit that may hinder. Let us seek; let us obtain the prize prepared for all, even exaltation in the celestial kingdom of God.

[illustration] Illustrated by Michael T. Malm