Saturday, October 9, 2010

Track Practice

I was thinking today about a principle that I was taught years ago my a friend, Kyle.  As a youth Kyle's father was a track coach at a Jr High School a few towns away from his home.  He and his friends decided to join their own track track team at their local school, in response to the gentle encouragement of his father.

When he went to practice his first day, he saw a circle cut into a grass field.  His coach explained that this circle was the size of a normal track, and that he had measured it out so that they could practice at their school instead of traveling each practice to the nearest track at the local high school.  Kyle and his friends decided to run together a relay, and timed their very first practice race.  Their coach was excited to see that their times were very good, and he expressed very energetically that he had just witnessed a bunch of naturals join his team.

As Kyle returned home each night of practice, his father was equally impressed and encouraging, for the times recorded by his son and his friends were already getting close to surpassing the times of his own team.  And soon they were.  As their first real race got closer, Kyle and his friends were confident that they would win, and they were, fueled by their excitement.

The day of the race came.  You can imagine their joy as yes, as the first runner took off down the track, he was far ahead of his opponents.  However, as he got farther along the race, the other boys were catching up, and even passed him at the finish line.  Each boy experienced a similar defeat, and they all went home that first race in last place.  Early the next day, the track coach returned to their practice field and measured the track he had cut into the grass, and quickly saw the reason of his teams' defeat: He had mis-measured, and his team had been practicing on a track an entire 60 yards shorter than a normal track.

And so it is with life.  This life is, as the scriptures say, a probationary time, a time to prepare to meet God.  This life is full of practice sessions, where we have opportunities to learn and grow.  Whenever we are the recipient of an unkind word, we prepare for meeting God by holding our own tongue, forgiving, and even serving that individual.  Whenever we have a trial to endure, we prepare for meeting God by keeping our patience and optimism without getting frustrated or upset.  Whenever we face a temptation, we prepare for meeting God by praying, getting out of the negative situation, and re-inviting the spirit into our lives.

Unfortunately, when we encounter these times we get to prepare, we will almost always be tempted to give a partial effort. To run, as Kyle did, a shorter race.  And when we give into that temptation, to not give all our heart, might, mind and strength to God, we end up as Kyle did. Loosing the race.  Not having the stamina to serve with our all when it really will be expected of us.

Let us remember to make the most of every moment of every day, and always give our all.  We don't want to reach the judgment bar of God, and realize that we are yet unprepared for the real work that begins beyond the veil.

-Elder Blackburn

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