“Lost Horizons,” Ensign, Aug. 1999, 2
A popular novel of some years ago was titled Lost Horizons. If I can, I should like to issue a challenge to Saints everywhere to broaden their vision, rather than limit it, so that there will be no “lost horizons” for members of the Lord’s true Church. Rossiter Raymond has indicated that a horizon is nothing save the limit of our own sight, and unfortunately the first range of hills that encircle the scanty vale creates the horizon for the majority of its inhabitants.
One of my friends had a son graduate with an advanced degree from Harvard University; his other son has an advanced degree from Stanford University. My friend began his illustrious career as a paperboy of a great newspaper of which he later served as president. He also worked for the railroad. He had all the advantages of knowing the blessings of adversity. I asked him with sincere pondering, “I wonder if your sons are as well educated as you were at their age?”
I am very grateful to have had a father who did not overindulge his sons, except with love and moral support. I think I have a special appreciation for many things because of having worked in a canning factory and having caught the hot cans as they came from the capper, for the munificent sum of 25 cents per hour. One of the by-products of the job was to have the flesh of the hands peel off from the moisture and the heat of the cans. It also involved a 10-mile bicycle ride every day to and from work.
One of the most remarkable families I have known is that of Brother and Sister Alexander R. Curtis, who used to run the coal yard in the Sugar House area of Salt Lake City. This family produced many bishops, stake presidents, mission presidents, and regional representatives of the Twelve, as well as a temple president and General Authority. One of their descendants, President A. Ray Curtis, when asked to what he attributed his success, answered that it was the coal shovel his father put in his hands when he was a boy. There are some advantages if we have to work and struggle and deny ourselves. The lean times very well could be the most beneficial times in our lives.
We are indebted to Henry Ward Beecher for the marvelous thought that “affliction comes to us all, not to make us sad, but sober; not to make us sorry, but to make us wise; not to make us despondent, but by its darkness to refresh us as the night refreshes the day. … It is trial that proves one thing weak and another strong. A cobweb is as good as the mightiest cable when there is no strain upon it.”
When one marvels at the surpassing craftsmanship so evident in so many places in the Salt Lake Temple, one cannot help but wonder if one of the lost horizons in our generation is excellence in personal performance. The Apostle Paul counseled the Philippians well: “Approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ” (Philip. 1:10).
The challenge for us to follow a “more excellent way” appears in two significant scriptures. In writing to the Corinthians, Paul states, “Covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way” (1 Cor. 12:31). In Ether, Moroni writes, “In the gift of his Son hath God prepared a more excellent way” (Ether 12:11). One takes no offense in the pride of Michelangelo, who carved across the bodice of the Pietà this reminder to all who gaze upon the exquisite and sublime work of art: “Michelangelo Buonarroti of Florence made this.”
One of the horizons that can profitably be expanded in all of us is spiritual excellence. I would surmise that all who are members of this great Church have a desire to see the face of the Savior. This is an available blessing, for He has said, “It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am” (D&C 93:1). Too few of us catch sight of this horizon as we fail to avail ourselves of God’s promises.
Another lost horizon of spiritual excellence is that of personal integrity, or just plain honesty in one’s dealings. First-grade honesty is far more important than a knowledge of logarithms or the periodic tables of the elements of the earth.
The element in the final test is that of being true to one’s own being. Shakespeare, speaking through Polonius in Hamlet, said,
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
(act 1, scene 3, lines 78–80)
May I mention three other horizons that we hope are never lost to the individual Saints.
First is confidence in ourselves. Some time ago one of the Twelve sat with a group of former recipients of a special scholarship from the universities of Utah. Each recounted what the scholarship had meant to his or her life. Invariably appreciation was expressed for the money itself because of the great need, but quite often appreciation was also expressed for the self-confidence that receiving the recognition had given the student. Excellence comes into being riding on the confidence one has in self.
The second lost horizon may be in physical soundness. More than a strengthening of muscles, there comes a strengthening of resolve, self-discipline, and carriage when one participates in athletic endeavors. My brother Gus and I occasionally would have to walk the five miles from our high school to the area where we lived, after having participated in a football scrimmage or training for a track meet. To many this seemed foolish, but there was a certain satisfaction in having persevered in an overwhelming physical challenge.
The third horizon that I hope is not lost is that of service. I speak of service to others, service to our callings, service to our profession, and service to our community and country. Most of our expanding horizons involve service and dedication. Members of the Church should be the leaven of the world, and if we are not serving the world, how can we provide the yeast?
We do not always choose for ourselves the horizons in life where we will render service. The word of the Lord came unto Jonah, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh” (Jonah 1:2). You will recall that Jonah recoiled from that idea; he went to Joppa, then on to Tarshish, to get away from the presence of the Lord (see Jonah 1:3). He found that the Lord had other ideas for him, and three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish that swallowed him changed his mind about a number of things (see Jonah 1:17–3:3).
I bear my testimony to the divinity of this work and to the reality of Jesus of Nazareth, our Divine Redeemer, who should be our constant companion as we seek out and discover formerly lost horizons.
Some Points of Emphasis
You may wish to make these points in your home teaching discussions:
The times when we are working and struggling to reach new horizons can be the most beneficial in our lives.
Individual new horizons may be:
confidence in ourselves.
service to others, in our callings, in our professions, and in our community and country.
We will better succeed in reaching our horizons if we make the Lord Jesus Christ and His teachings our constant companions.
Relate your feelings about the need for new horizons in our lives and the power that can come to us by making the Lord and His teachings our great source of strength.
Are there some scriptures or quotations in this article that the family might read aloud and discuss?
Would this discussion be better after a previsit chat with the head of the house? Is there a message from the bishop or quorum leader?