As a young man I participated in athletics. I liked being part of the team and feeling the team spirit. I enjoyed the fellowship of the other players. The challenge was also part of the sport.
I wanted to be like my older brother Gus (Dr. A. F. Faust), who was a good athlete and competitor—very fast and strong. I did not have any exceptional ability, but I had a sound body and good eyesight. I found that if I trained hard and persevered, I could compete.
I believed in the promise of the Lord contained in the Word of Wisdom: “And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint” (D&C 89:18–20).
It has been many years since I competed, but I still remember the agony of getting in shape—the painful shin splints, the sore muscles, and the times when it seemed that my whole body ached. But it was all worthwhile when the day of the game or the race arrived. It felt good to be a competitor.
Father and my special Uncle Jim (after whom I was named) were almost always there to watch us. Father didn’t say much to us before or after, but he always seemed to favor our team and was proud to have his boys in the arena doing their best. Sometimes father used to speak a little loudly to the referee when he thought the referee was wrong. Even though he didn’t say so, I always knew that he was pulling for me.
One cool, crisp day we were scrimmaging on the football field at Granite High School in Salt Lake City. We were preparing for a big game on Friday afternoon. The farmers who had been harvesting their celery crops in the fields around the stadium came over to watch us. Earlier that afternoon the fastener on my helmet had broken, and I had difficulty keeping my helmet on. In every play as I was jostled, my helmet would fly off and go rolling away, and I would have to scurry around and find it before the next play. Coach Rex Sutherland would not let us play without helmets because it was too dangerous.
On one important play I received a slight jar and my helmet went rolling away, but the play was still moving and I was in the middle of it. I didn’t want to leave the action of the play and go find my helmet, so I continued to press hard to tackle the ball carrier on the other side. I put my head down to bore in and try to grab the ball carrier. One of the players who was running interference for the ball carrier hit me hard, and I went down and lost consciousness.
Imagine my embarrassment when I regained consciousness and found the players huddled around looking down at me while I was lying on my back on the ground. It seemed like not only the players, but also the spectators were wondering what was the matter with me. Coach Sutherland wanted to know, in a concerned voice, if I could move. I was a little sick to my stomach and unsteady, but I said in as strong a voice as I could muster that I was all right. Then I got up and found my helmet and headed for my position in the lineup for the next play.
That was the only time that I was ever knocked unconscious. It was my own fault. I had learned a great lesson—it is always important to keep your chin strap fastened so that your helmet is in place and you have protection.
In medieval times those who entered into combat wore protective helmets, breastplates, and often whole suits of steel armor. In our day we need a different kind of armor, spiritual armor. The Lord said, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God” (Eph. 6:13).
Spiritual armor not only protects against the many things that can knock us spiritually senseless, but also protects us physically and in many other ways. For instance, it can help us to have wise discernment in making all of the important decisions we have to make. We can also have special insights in choosing friends and associates. Through this protection we can have and enjoy an inner strength, peace, and calmness that will be constant and unfailing resources.
In addition, other unseen hosts may be available to us if we follow our prophet and other leaders. When the prophet Elisha was surrounded by a host of the Syrian army with a large number of horses and chariots, his servant who saw them was frightened by the host and said to the prophet, “How shall we do? …
“And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (2 Kgs. 6:15, 17.)
Concerned unseen hosts from the other side of the veil may be watching over us. Protection is available to all who desire it, seek it, and wrap it around themselves securely buckled, and not with a defective fastener like my football helmet.