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Lesson in the Desert

This past weekend my family and I--along with my brother Devin and his wife Marissa--climbed, explored, and wondered at the magnificent splendor of the sandstone fins and arches in and around Arches National Park.  In addition to enjoying the sun, the sand, and all that this incredible area has to offer, in the midst of frustration and adversity, I learned a lesson that Heavenly Father had in store for me.

After some great hiking late Friday afternoon, we returned to the campsite, ready to get dinner cooking.  The plan was to grill shishkabobs, but to my consternation, the winds had begun to whip up.  Perhaps that's an understatement.  Seemingly gale-force winds had completely blown over a neighbor's tent and our 4-man REI tent was flirting with the same fate.  The constant battering of the desert wind was disrupted only by intermittent gusts that blinded eyes and sandblasted any exposed skin.  Needless to say, our Weber gas grill would not stay lit and the sticks of raw pork and beef that Lisa had prepared sat on the table in the sun and wind waiting for me to figure out some way to cook them, or to waste them.

I was frustrated.  I didn't know what to do.  I wanted to be happy and enjoy our experience, but instead, I was short of temper and testy.  How I would much rather have been at a condo where we could have comfortably cooked a meal with no concern for inclement weather.  I thought of punting, and going back into Moab for dinner, but it was about a 25-mile trip one-way and we had just come from spending $60 at a restaurant for lunch.  Defeated and at a loss for anything else to do, I gathered the family and asked Jackson to say a prayer that the winds would be calmed.

In the midst of my frustration and indecision, our next-campsite neighbors arrived back to find their campsite in disarray.  I ran to help them fetch their tent that had blown away--despite being loaded down with their luggage, sleeping bags, etc.--and carry/drag it back to their campsite.  I helped them search in the blowing sand for their tent stakes so they could try, again, to anchor it as much as possible to the shifting sands. 

It was about this time that my mind was opened to a lesson that I believe Heavenly Father had for me, if I would but pay enough attention to see it.  The words of Helaman to his sons popped into my mind:

"And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."  (Helaman 5:12)

Ammon taught something similar.  Speaking of those converts who had been brought into the fold of God, he said: "...neither shall they be harrowed up by the whirlwinds; but when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds withersoever the enemy listeth to carry them."  (Alma 26:6)

There are numerous other similar references, but perhaps none is more apropos than the words of the Savior to the Nephites: "...whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the .... winds beat upon them." (3 Nephi 11:40)

Our tents were certainly "built" upon a sandy foundation, and when the winds beat upon them, they were buffeted and driven about.  The lesson of having my life anchored to a solid foundation, the rock of our Reedemer, who is Christ, sunk deep into my mind.  If I am living such that I am anchored to that Rock, then I will be protected.  I will be strong and able to withstand the mighty winds which surely are and will be sent forth by the devil.  If, however, my foundation is not built upon the Rock, but upon a sandy foundation, I will be vulnerable and will be driven about in the face of the winds.  How thankful I am for repentance and for a new day so that with the Savior's help, I can pick up the tent that is my life and again anchor it to a solid foundation.

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1 Comment about "Lesson in the Desert"

said this on 13 Jun 2008 9:01:57 PM CDT
Thanks for your example. This imagery of rock vs. sand is one of the most vivid in scripture. Imagine being in a tornado or hurricane (whirlwind) and having nothing but sand to hang on to. Now imagine being in that same storm, this time surrounded by a solid rock building. I'll take the rock any day. It is tempting to set our sights on the sandy trophies of wealth, fame, ease, and sin. But, in the end, there is nothing to hang on to. Faith and trust in Christ is our only hope for peace in this world, and joy in the world to come. Great post!

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