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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Staying Afloat

By: Elder Dallas S. Archibald

The brightest part of the flame of the pine logs had mellowed into glowing coals as Rob stared into the fire. The heat was strong enough to scorch his face and shins, yet the mountain air chilled his back and shoulders. His dad was sitting on a large rock on the other side of the fire, but neither had spoken for some time. Rob was lost in memories of many other times like this and wondering when the next opportunity would come, if ever.

Every year for six years, Rob and his dad had spent at least one week in the summer on a camping and fishing trip. Last year they had boated to the far end of Yellowstone Lake and camped with the bears. It would have been great to go there again, but Rob wanted to return to the first spot his dad had taken him when he was 12 years old.

As they parked the car and began their hike up the trail, the early morning sky was just beginning to show signs of light. The packs were heavy because of a few extras which would make the camp a little more comfortable. Still, they were experienced enough to know what they could and couldn’t do without. The ten-and-a-half mile hike along a cold rushing mountain stream brought them finally to a small lake nestled in a valley cradled at the edge of the timberline of the upper curvature of the mountain.

The natural beauty was breathtaking and the fishing was superb, but as the hypnotic effect of the glowing coals relaxed strained and tired muscles, Rob meditated on the real reason he wanted to come to this spot. At about this same time of night at a similar fire in the same fire pit six years before, he had asked his father,

“Dad, in the celestial kingdom will we be able to go fishing together?”

In just a few words of profound wisdom, his father had responded, “If it is still important to you, then I’m sure it will be possible.”

Over those six years, Rob had recognized some changes in himself. Although these times with his father continued to be important and he was always ready to go when someone said “fishing,” he had learned that fishing was for relaxation and not really a key desire of his heart. In institute classes during his first year of college, a strengthened testimony of the gospel began burning within him and he knew that as soon as possible after his 19th birthday he needed to be leaving on a mission. The words were clear in his mind and seemed to ring out within his soul: “For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who … is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” (Mosiah 5:13). Nevertheless there were some fears, down deep inside of him, about his ability to do the work.

Time has a way of rearranging priorities. Rob was very aware of that, and sensing the end of an era, he had wanted to come back to this place.

His dad spoke, breaking the silence of the night. “The evening fishing was really something, wasn’t it, son?”
“Yeah,” responded Rob instantly. “I never believed that I would be catching two fish at a time. But when I tied the second gray hackle yellow on the line, I had to keep my hands inside the float to keep the fish from getting it before the knot was finished. It was like being able to walk on water and get right out there where the fish were biting.”

With a slight chuckle, his dad commented, “Now you sound like the Apostle Peter. You must have had a lot of faith that those fish were going to give you the thrill of a lifetime.”

Rob didn’t speak for some time and the still of the night began to inch its way back around the edges of the glow of the campfire which silhouetted the forms of the father and son.

“Dad?” Rob’s voice was full of question.


“Tell me about Peter. How did he walk on water?”

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