Elder Ammon Burdge 11/20 “Man’s extremity is God’s Opportunity”

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It is often said there are storms raging constantly around us. I firmly believe this to be so. There are many types of people in this world, but I would like to highlight just two: those who fear or even hide from such storms, clinging for dear life wondering when it will end, and the others who openly welcome the fiercest tempests with their faith emblazoned proudly upon their chests. I pray constantly to be the latter.

I have exactly one week left in the CCM and I have come to realize that the storms and threatening seas surrounding all of us are blessings from the Lord. The howling wind, the crashing waves, the terrible threatenings of thunder and the ceaseless cracks of lightning are given to us by a Loving God to propel us forward to greatness. In the second chapter of Ether, the Savior commands the Brother of Jared to build barges that his people may continue onward to the promised land. The Lord states:

“24. For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth. 25. And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. …”

In Ether, the great deep is literally an ocean. However, in my life there are many trials which have great depth. I find comfort that the Lord is always watching over me and He has prepared a way for me to navigate these treacherous seas. On our ships we have sails of faith. Our Redeemer has sent winds that our faith may carry us on to our promised land. Elder John Groberg once explained that true sailors do not fear storms, for they bring the life of a mariner’s movement: wind. We are given opportunities to move forward and progress, propelled through monstrous storms.

While on his mission to the pacific islands, Elder Groberg was travelling with a few other men in a sailboat to an island where a family was faithfully waiting to hear the gospel.During their journey, the wind died out and the entire sea went calm. They prayed for wind, individually and as a group, for wind to bring them to their destination; none came. Without wind they would surely be stuck forever on the still glass of sea and the family would never hear the gospel. At such a moment, Satan certainly may have whispered to their hearts, ” You fools. Don’t you realize you are in my power? These waters belong to me. I am preventing your movement and blocking the wind. So long as you are on my ocean, you will not go forth.” As they continued to pray, wind did not greet their sails. Finally, an older man let down a small life boat, tossed in a couple oars and said to Elder Groberg, “Get in. Today I will be the Lord’s wind.”

Sometimes we feel we are not progressing, that we are stuck on an unchanging sea. We pray for the Lord to bring forth a little wind so that we can serve and grow. At such times the adversary, always at the ready, attempts to pollute our minds and claim that he is responsible for thwarting our progression. However, if we patiently pause and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit of the Lord, we will realize that it is our Redeemer holding back the wind. He is waiting for us to act that we may grow. There are times when our Father in Heaven, who created us and knows us perfectly, provides for us opportunities to row ourselves to shore with the strength He has already granted us. He is waiting for us to act. 2 Nephi 2:13-14 teaches us:

“…And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away. And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.”

We were created by God to act. The Eternal Father did not create us so that we could wait idly for His wind. He expects us to act and propel ourselves towards Him, rowing if necessary. One of my favorite hymns is #208 Brillan rayos de clemencia (Brightly Beams our Father’s Mercy). The hymn describes many sailors striving and enduring a great storm, trying to make their way to the safety of the Lord’s harbor and all the night long they are searching for the lighthouse to direct their way. Because of the faithfulness of my parents, I have been able to make my way across the treacherous sea, always watching for the lights they provide from the shore. Now at the shore, I am a missionary. The hymn speaks of two lights at the lighthouse, a higher light and a lower light. When the two are lined up, the sailors know they are following the right course. As missionaries we travel and teach in pairs. It is our duty to line up our lights that we may shine them before the world, to bring all people to the shore.

I love this sacred duty that I hold. I am forever grateful for the opportunity I have had to study the gospel and spanish here at the Mexico MTC. I know, unshakably, that it is by faith and by action that we can navigate these treacherous storms, ever watchful of the lighthouse, and forever having our faith emblazoned upon our countenances.

With faith and love,

Elder Burdge

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