Sunday, May 18, 2014

Choices, Consequences, and Powers Beyond Our Control.

Our speaker in church today was riveting. With his permission,  I'm going to share the main point of his talk on Choices.

Every summer for one week, Kyle's family would visit a resort on a huge lake in Canada. The resort had all kinds of boating equipment available for use, and the  kids took full advantage of the opportunity to get out onto the water.

One day, Kyle went with his eight year old brother, and his ten year old brother, and borrowed a large plastic kayak type of boat. Kyle was twelve. They took this boat out across the wide, deep lake, and found a spot to go explore on the opposite shore. Each end of the boat had a rope attached to it, and the boys used one of these ropes to secure the boat on the shoreline. They simply tied it to a decent sized rock to prevent it from floating away.

After playing on the shore, the boys climbed back in their boat and paddled out into the water. For some reason, they decided to keep the rock attached, and they dragged it out with them till it was suspended underwater beneath their boat.

Something about that arrangement tickled their imagination to no end, and they played with a rock on the end of a rope for a while, till it slipped out of the loop and sunk to the bottom. They looked at each other and reasoned "if a big rock at the end of a rope is big fun, a bigger rock would be bigger fun!"

So back to shore they went. This time they selected a very large rock that took quite a bit of effort to move around. They secured the rope around it and went back out into deeper water. After some fun and splashing, pulling the rope and imagining the rock dangling below them, the rock slipped out of its knots and disappeared.

Again, the boys considered. "If a big rock was big fun, and a huge rock was huge fun, an enormous rock would be enormous fun!"

Back to shore they went. This time the rock was almost too big for the three of them to move. It was more of a boulder than a rock. They secured the rope around it tightly, and after much heaving and pushing, loosened it from the surrounding dirt and, paddling mightily, slowly dragged it into deeper waters.

This time they were amazed to see the massive rock pulled the front end of the boat to just an inch or two above the water line. The ten year old sat near the front, while the eight year old was seated in the rear with a life jacket on. Kyle was in the middle.

As they approached the center of the lake, which was tremendously deep, Kyle decided to use the rope on the rear of the boat to keep his youngest brother safe. He tied it tightly to his brother's life jacket.

At one point, though, the ten year old stood up to move around for some reason. His motion disturbed the balance enough that the front end dipped forward just a bit, and the back end lifted up just a bit.

That change in surface area and displacement was all it took for disaster to strike. The boat, pulled by the incredible weight of the boulder below, instantly flipped into a vertical position. Kyle was launched into the air. In one of those terrifying slow-motion-replay moments of life, he was able to see the boat disappear below the surface lighting fast, pulling his brother down after.

At this point in the story, the speaker paused to share some scriptures. He must have been a TV producer or something. Luckily, I'll not take any longer than this sentence to return to the story.

Kyle swam back to the spot where he last saw his brother. To his shock, and relief, he could see his brother only about 15 feet underwater, struggling against his life jacket, but slowly rising upwards. Kyle dove and swam with his might, trying to raise his brother.

Finally, they broke the surface, gasping for air. The combined buoyancy of the life jacket and the boat were just barely enough to overcome the weight of the rock. But as soon as the jacket reached the surface, the rock would rise no higher. If the rock had been but a few pounds heavier, Kyle's brother would have been lost.

A passing vacationer in a motorboat had seen the accident and quickly arrived. He dove in and cut the rope with a knife, freeing Kyle's brother and sending the plastic kayak to the bottom of the lake.

As he shared this story on the stand today, he was quite emotional. "I think about that day all the time," he said. "We were messing with forces beyond our understanding."

All of our choices have consequences. And some of those consequences are eternal in nature. Think about Alma the Younger, who, perhaps sick and tired of his father's unbelievable religion, went about trying to destroy it. He was messing with forces beyond his understanding, and soon found himself facing a crisis he had not imagined possible, and for which he was woefully unprepared.

All of us will someday face the consequences of our choices. Some come now, and some don't come till an unexpected wave or shift in the balance sends us plummeting into danger.

The safety the gospel offers is a tremendous gift. I'm not suggesting that every commandment supplies us with safety against some danger of the world. But I do firmly believe that a real strength pours into our lives when we live the gospel. That strength helps us get through the hard times, and to not only endure trials, but be improved by them as well.

I love this gospel, and the safety for the soul that it offers.