The Gate

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“The Gate,” Ensign, Feb. 1996, 60–61

The Gate

One cold morning during a February snowstorm, I arose at 4:00 A.M. to tend to the stock before going to work. My father had recently passed away, and overnight the responsibility for the small farm fell to me. I was also completing my own education, serving in a bishopric, and commuting more than 120 miles a day to work. My days dragged on in a seemingly never-ending cycle of heavy responsibilities to be shouldered in the cold and wet weather.

The cattle to be fed were some distance from our home, but because of the excessive snowfall and poor visibility, I trudged through the snow in a drain ditch to avoid cars on the road. Sloshing through mud and broken ice, I stumbled several times, so that by the time I arrived at the feedlot I was soaked from head to toe, splattered with mud, my clothes frozen stiff. I was already late because of the walk, so I had to hurry or miss my ride to work.

I tugged on the gate of the feedlot, but it was frozen solid. I struggled for several minutes to free it. After beating, prying, pushing, and pulling at it, I knew I was defeated. I didn’t have time to walk back to the house, yet the cattle had to be fed. I can’t go on, I thought. I just can’t do it all any longer.

As I stood there looking at the cold, hungry animals, I thought of my father, who had struggled with these same problems for years without complaint. I felt inferior to him and wondered if he was disappointed in me. Other pioneer ancestors came to mind, with all the burdens they must have faced, and I wondered if I could ever be equal to my heritage. I fell to my knees, and there in the slush I tearfully asked to be forgiven for my weakness and pleaded for help from my Father in Heaven to continue doing what was necessary for my family.

As I prayed, a sweet, calming peace entered me. I knew I was loved and appreciated and that all I had to do was to endure.

I stood up quietly and walked to the frozen gate. With one small tug, it swung open. My prayer had been heard. I knew then that Father in Heaven loved me and that a way would be provided for me to carry on with all my responsibilities.

Years later I still reflect on those few moments at the old feedlot gate. It belongs to someone else now, but its lessons still endure.

Illustrated by Robert McKay