Most of the time Fish Lake is as smooth as glass, but it can become extremely rough when strong winds come up. Some of my most enjoyable days as a young man were spent fishing with my father and family on Fish Lake in central Utah. We would get up early in the morning, before the sun rose, and guide our boat to the other side of the lake. There we would troll for trout along a beautiful, pine-covered bank. Generally, we would head back to camp around ten o’clock in the morning for breakfast.
One day I was manning the controls of the outboard motor as we started back across the water. A sudden, strong wind turned the mirror-calm water angry and boiling. The roiling waves pushed the boat into a frenzied zigzag course, and I could not hold it steady. My father moved toward me and asked if he should take over. I immediately turned the controls over to him, and within minutes he was steering straight across the lake toward the shore. Our family was astounded and asked our father how he could do this so quickly. He then taught us a great tool for steering a straight course. He pointed out two tall pine trees across the lake near our campsite. He said that by aligning the boat with two large pine trees, he was able to dock near our camp. The trees were a sure marker to guide us to our safe harbor.
Everyone’s life is sometimes battered by the winds and waves of temptations, setbacks, and disappointments. However, we can find a straight course to safe harbors if we align our lives with Jesus Christ and with a loving Father in Heaven. Just as the Savior follows his Father, we can follow the Savior.
No matter what life brings, the Savior always remains our loving friend. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “We are the spirit offspring of our Father in heaven, and in His infinite wisdom He has provided His Only Begotten Son—in the flesh, our elder brother and friend, Jesus—to lead us back home” (That My Family Should Partake, 96). His friendship brings so much to our lives. He is God the Son, our Elder Brother. His words, his life, and his Atonement provide a clear course that will guide us back to our Father’s safe harbor, to true peace and joy. The course to safety becomes clearer as we align our friendship and love more completely with his. So the key question for you and me is, “How can I be a true friend of the Savior?”
The answer comes when we more fully understand the nature of true and eternal friendships.
First, friendship must be built on a solid foundation. Friendships fused together with sin crumble; friendships cemented with spiritual virtue last an eternity.
When my children Mark and Carolyn were six and seven years old, respectively, they met a neighborhood playmate, Dana. Dana became a great friend, and through that childhood friendship, Dana and her mother became interested in the Church. Dana began attending Church services and Primary on a regular basis. Shortly after she was eight years of age, she was baptized. To this day, that friendship has strongly endured because its foundation in gospel principles was secure. There is nothing that provides a surer basis for true friendship than sharing the gospel truths with others.
Second, you help and strengthen your friendship with the Savior when you obey his admonition to “Love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:39). Your individual acts of kindness emulate those of your Eternal Friend.
The Savior gives us one of the most beautiful examples of divine friendship in these words: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:35–40).
Third, friends give freely to each other. The Father gave us his Son, and the Savior gave his life for us. In turn, we offer the gift of our lives when we become more like him through our own righteous living.
Fourth, friends talk frequently to each other. With all the tools at our fingertips today—telephones, computers, e-mail, faxes, and good old-fashioned face-to-face talking—it is hard to imagine a solid friendship without regular, meaningful communication. We build our friendship with the Savior when we use the communication tools he has given us. In his name, we should have consistent, sincere, private conversations with our Father in Heaven through prayer. These prayers should share our sincere hopes and aspirations, express our thanksgiving for his blessings, and ask for guidance and strength.
Fifth, friends give each other a sense of peace and security. Speaking to his Apostles, Jesus teaches us again by saying: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
Shortly after I returned from my Swiss-Austrian mission, I was called up to serve in the U. S. Army. Soon I found myself on the troop ship USS Breckenridge bound for Korea. And because of my particular assignment, no one from my training unit was aboard that same ship. I felt very much alone among 600 complete strangers, and I was extremely concerned about the real possibility that I would soon be engaged in combat.
At times like that, one realizes the tremendous importance of close friends and comrades who can look after and protect each other, if the need arises.
Aboard that ship one day, a scripture that I had used as a missionary came to my mind which provided a sense of peace and security that I did not find anywhere else. That scripture is an invitation from the Savior to all of us: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30).
How can we be a friend of the Savior? These five elements of friendship will help qualify us to be a true friend to the Savior. But above all, we can strive to follow the Savior’s own answer: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).