Bearing The Cross!



One of the more memorable experiences I had as a young man in the church was a canoe trip during the summer of 1971. That summer the young men of the ward took a trip to the lakes of Minnesota. There at the Charles L. Sommers Wilderness Canoe Base began a week of great beauty. I still remember the still crystal blue lakes, flying eagles, and beautiful lakeside stops. But what I remember most was a week of hard work and sparse food. The still lake waters are memorable, but with the stillness comes the job of hard canoeing to cross it. Because we were gone for an entire week we had to carry all provisions. Food, tents, cooking supplies and extra clothes were packed into all the canoes. The real work was not packing all the supplies on the canoe, but “forging” from one lake to the other. Forging is a mighty undertaking. It involves landing at the edge of one lake, then hiking to the next lake with the canoe on your back. Each time we forged we had to go up a small mountain, then go down the other side to another lake. Carrying the canoes was hard enough but carrying all the supplies as well made for a slow and excruciating transition. On top of the hard work was the limited supply of food. You can imagine that when you carry a week of food supply for 20 men and boys, you take no more than is “needed.” For me, and the other young men, the rationing of food brought us close to rebellion. Never has food tasted so sweet as it did that week.

Because of that experience I have taken note as to how often the Lord has required great sacrifice in “crossing and forging” of his people. The examples are many. Per the commandment of the Lord, Abraham had to forge and cross the mighty Euphrates to reach the land of Canaan. Moses lead the Israelites to cross the parted Red Sea and Joshua was asked to lead the Lord’s people across the river Jordan. In our time, the mighty Mississippi River stood in the way of our modern-day exodus to the west. And how can we forget the Jaredites and the family of Lehi crossing an ocean to get to this continent!

With such rich examples of “crossing and forging” in our history, it makes you wonder why the Lord has required it so often of his people. One answer is found in the Scriptures: “My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom” (D&C 136:31)

I am convinced that the Lord presents us with opportunities to “cross and forge” so that we might stretch and reach our potential. It may not be easy, but nothing that builds character ever is! I hated the hard work of that canoe trip in Minnesota, but the callous were soon gone while the sweet memories and character building lessons have endured. Bearing and crossing the everyday challenges that are placed before us while maintaining a testimony of Jesus Christ,  are certainly an intricate part of who we are or who we would like to become!

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