“Stop!” Friend, June 2005, 47
Mike and his younger brothers, Eric and Tom, liked to go hiking with their dad. Dad always said he knew the mountains like the back of his own hand. He had grown up walking the same paths with his own dad, who was a sheepherder. Dad was a teacher, but he still enjoyed getting out in the fresh air and sunshine of the mountains.
“When we come around this bend, you’ll see a little waterfall,” Dad might tell the boys. Or, “Be really quiet here, and you’ll be able to hear the wind whistle up in the cliffs.” He always seemed to know just what to watch or listen for. When Mike and his brothers did what Dad told them, they always found something new to love about the mountains.
But sometimes they just wanted to run, and Dad let them do it when it was safe. One summer day they were excited to reach the top of the trail—a high meadow filled with fresh green grass and flowers of just about every color. And so they took off running through the trees at top speed, even though they were tired from their morning’s hike. They wanted to burst onto that meadow like jackrabbits.
“Stop when you get to the meadow,” Dad called after them. “I’ll meet you there.” They ran ahead, each trying to get in front of the others. When they burst from the trees, neck and neck, butterflies flew up to avoid the running brothers.
The boys stopped a moment while their eyes got used to the light. Then they took off again, forgetting Dad’s instruction. They ran in circles through the deep grass, jumping and dodging, whooping and hollering and tagging each other. “You’re it, Tommy!”
“No, you’re it, Mike!”
Then Eric had an idea. “Let’s race all the way across the meadow!” Tom hesitated. They couldn’t see the far side of the clearing because a grassy hill obscured their view. But Mike wasn’t worried. “I think this is the same meadow we came to last summer,” he assured his brothers.
They gathered back at the trees. “Ready!” Eric shouted. “Set! GO!” The wind felt fresh and cool on Mike’s cheeks and in his hair, and the faster he ran, the more wind he got. Soon he was leading the race. He felt like he could run forever.
“STOP!” a voice bellowed like thunder behind them. All three boys stopped immediately. They turned and saw Dad running toward them from the edge of the meadow. “Come back here beside me,” Dad called, more gently this time. The boys obeyed. “Now, everybody hold hands,” he said. Eric and Tom held Dad’s hands, and Mike held Tom’s little hand. They walked together across the meadow. As they topped the little hill, Dad suddenly stopped.
Just a few paces ahead of them, a sheer cliff dropped down at least 20 or 30 feet. If they had been running, there was no way they could have seen it in time to stop.
“Whoa!” Eric gulped. “That’s pretty scary.”
“Yeah.” Tom shook his head. “Thanks, Dad.”
They turned away from the cliff. Eric and Tom ran back across the meadow, but Mike slipped his hand into Dad’s. “We could have died,” Mike said softly.
“Well, maybe. I’m sure glad you stopped running, even though I didn’t have time to explain. Sometimes we have to obey first and ask questions later!”
“Especially when someone else knows what’s coming, and you don’t,” Mike said.
Dad smiled. “You might find the same thing to be true at other times in your life. Maybe your mom or I, or a teacher, or perhaps the Holy Ghost will give you some instructions. You might not know why right away. But if you trust the person the instructions came from, obey anyway. Later you’ll understand why.”
Mike nodded. He couldn’t always know where cliffs were hidden, but he could always listen to those who knew more than he did.
“Obedience leads to true freedom.”
President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, “Obedience: The Path to Freedom,” Ensign, May 1999, 45.