Come, Follow Me

As my ward hiked through the woods to a secluded campsite during a stake campout for priests, I learned a valuable lesson. We had lost the trail, and after hiking many miles through brush, trees, and even streams, we were tired, cold, hungry, and wet.

Our bishop took the lead, and I was second in the line. We had only three flashlights for our group of 12 people, and it was a very difficult hike. However, I found that as long as I stayed right behind the bishop, I was safe and would not get lost from our group. All I could look at were his footsteps right in front of me. If I looked out at the dark wilderness, I would lose my footing and trip.

The bishop’s pace was quick and tiring, but he knew in which direction to move, and I trusted him. It was in this dark wilderness that I learned my lesson.

In a world of many challenges, we must follow directly behind the Savior or we will lose the true path. If we look away from His footsteps, we will more easily make mistakes and hurt ourselves. But if we stay with His quick and powerful stride and follow His example, the Savior will lead us to our eternal destination and warm us with His glorious love. How grateful I am that we have the Savior, who invites us all to “Come, follow me.”

Blessings from Hard Times

When I was 12, my dad lost his job. Money was tight, and I was embarrassed that my family was poor, and I was jealous of my friends’ clothes and toys.

I was really stressed out and even depressed at times because I let jealousy get the best of me. Our family fasted and prayed so my dad could find another job. Our family began to change, especially my dad. He wasn’t stressed. He was happy and spent more time with us, and he read his scriptures more. It changed the whole mood in our home, and my dad became more in tune with the Spirit.

Sometimes it takes a trial for someone to become a better person. If you take trials the right way, you will be greatly blessed. It took about a year for my dad to find a new job, but we were so grateful Heavenly Father answered our prayers.

Will I Ever Be Like Nephi?

I remember having a particularly difficult time at one point during my mission to Cleveland, Ohio. I wondered why I wasn’t seeing the same tangible success other missionaries in my area seemed to be having. My own weakness was foremost in my mind as I pondered the dilemma. I couldn’t help but think that I was doing something wrong, though I couldn’t pinpoint what it was. I counseled with the Lord many times about the situation and also turned to the scriptures. One morning in my study of the Book of Mormon, I came across a verse that was the answer to my prayers and added strength to my testimony.

“Wherefore, I, Nephi, did strive to keep the commandments of the Lord, and I did exhort my brethren to faithfulness and diligence” (1 Nephi 17:15).

I had always thought of Nephi as a great prophet who never made any mistakes. I admired Nephi, but I felt I would never be as great as he was. However, when I read this verse written by Nephi, I realized that he was mortal and imperfect also. He didn’t write, “I, Nephi, kept all the commandments perfectly all the time.” Rather, he wrote that he “did strive to keep the commandments of the Lord.”

That simple verse touched me. Suddenly I realized that I am no different from Nephi or any other great prophet or missionary. We’ve been given the same commandments, and they will be judged on how well they improved their time on earth just as I will be. I don’t have to be perfect; I only have to strive to keep the commandments and do the very best I can with the abilities I have been given. In the end, when I come up short of perfection, it will be the Lord’s grace that will make up for the rest. Through this otherwise simple verse, I gained a greater testimony of the scriptures as communication from Heavenly Father.

Service and Change

One day while running some errands, I saw a homeless man in front of the bank. I had seen him there before, and I had always tried to make sure that I smiled and said hello. Although I didn’t usually give him money, I wanted him to know that I’m not trying to avoid him and that I recognized him as a real person. When I got out of the car, I went to put change in the meter, but all I had was a “loonie” (Canadian dollar coin) and a bunch of pennies.

As I stood there and pushed the pennies around, making sure there wasn’t a nickel or dime, I heard the homeless man ask, “Do you have change?”

I told him I didn’t, not even for the meter. Then he surprised me by saying, “Oh, here. I’m sure I have a dime for you.”

I had just tried to shake off this homeless man because I didn’t have any change for him, and then he handed me a dime. But his gift was more than monetary. He also gave me a change of heart. His simple act was charity and service in its truest form. A homeless man begging for change gave his change to someone who needed it more at the moment. I thanked him and then, even though he wasn’t expecting it, gave him my loonie.

Illustration by Gregg Thorkelsen; photograph by Christina Smith