“The Big Run,” Friend, June 2005, 5
Each summer, seven-year-old Dennis helped Grandpa farm his fields, located three miles outside their hometown. Dennis loved everything about Grandpa and his farm. He marveled at the morning sun boiling up over dark hills, the liquid gold of sunset clouds, and the skill in Grandpa’s strong hands as he worked the land that meant so much to him.
Most of all, he marveled at Grandpa’s faith. Dennis could see it in his pale blue eyes that burned in his sunbaked face like fire whenever he spoke of Heavenly Father.
“Give us strength of body and spirit, dear Father, to do today that which we must,” Grandpa prayed one morning as Dennis and Grandma sat at the breakfast table with bowed heads. “Let us be of service, and let our faith be strong.” After breakfast Dennis and Grandpa climbed onto Grandpa’s tractor and set off down the lonely road to the farm.
After working a few hours, Grandpa stopped the tractor and gazed across the hilly landscape of his half-furrowed fields. “Well, son,” he said. “What do you think?”
Dennis wiped the sweat and dust from his face with the back of his hand. “I think I’m tired. There’s too much field, Grandpa. It seems to go on forever, and I’m afraid we’ll never get it done. Besides, it’s hot, and I think there’s enough dirt on me to plant a garden.”
Grandpa laughed and ruffled Dennis’s dusty hair. “You may be right, sprout. But to have a good harvest I’ve got to plow a good portion of earth. Half jobs yield half results, and half a crop just won’t do. Besides,” he added with a wink, “to put off work at my age could be fatal.” Grandpa chuckled and passed a canteen of cold lemonade to Dennis.
Dennis grinned and swallowed a few big gulps.
“You know,” Grandpa said as he squinted into the gold-brown haze of the late morning light, “President Joseph F. Smith once said, ‘We cannot give up; we must not lie down.’ He was talking about the courage of faith. He said, ‘Men who possess that divine quality go on.’”*
Dennis scrunched up his face until he looked like a dirt clod with eyes. “What’s ‘courage of faith,’ Grandpa?”
Grandpa mopped his forehead with a worn bandanna. “To go on. In our case, it means finishing these furrows no matter how hot and dirty the job, no matter how big the field. Especially when that old sun up there and the ache in my back tell me to quit right now.” He patted Dennis’s leg, raising a cloud of dust. “But your help takes the quit right out of it.”
Later, when the canteen was empty, Grandpa decided that it was time to refresh their water supply. He turned the tractor and began to drive it up the hill toward the nearby spring.
But he misjudged the steepness of the hill. Suddenly the front of the machine began to lift off the ground, tipping them backward. “Jump!” he yelled to Dennis as the tractor arched back.
Dennis leaped to safety. Grandpa tried to follow him, but it was too late. The tractor pitched over backward, pinning Grandpa beneath it. He screamed, his face twisted with pain. He turned his head toward Dennis, who stood frozen with horror. “You’ll have to go for help,” Grandpa gasped. “And be quick, son. Be quick!”
For a moment Dennis stood there, his heart drumming. Grandpa’s life depended on him! He took a deep breath and plunged down the hill. All he had were his short legs and the knowledge that help was three long, hot, dusty miles away.
He hit the bottom of the hill at a dead run. His throat and lungs burned as he started down the road that seemed to stretch out forever. His heart and head pounded. Dark thoughts beat at him in rhythm with the hammering of his feet on the hard-baked earth. “I’m only seven. I’m not a runner. I’m already tired. I can’t do it. I’m only seven. …”
Spilling into his thoughts like a flood of light came the words of a prophet: “We cannot give up; we must not lie down.” Then Grandpa’s prayer from that morning echoed through his mind: “Give us strength of body and spirit, dear Father, to do today that which we must.”
Hot tears filled Dennis’s eyes as he ran. “Help me, Heavenly Father,” he prayed aloud in ragged, winded gasps. “Help me to do what I must.”
A little while later, Dennis burst into his house, staggering with exhaustion. “Dad!” he croaked. “Grandpa needs help!” Within moments, help was on its way.
He had done it. He didn’t know how, but Heavenly Father had made it possible. And so had the courage of faith.
Grandpa was rushed to the hospital. His leg was badly mangled. He had to stay in the hospital for several weeks and was in bed for a year after that. But in time he healed completely. The doctor told the family that if it hadn’t been for Dennis’s big run, things probably would have turned out differently. And Dennis knew that if it hadn’t been for what Grandpa had said, he couldn’t have done it. The hug Grandpa gave Dennis when he was well enough made Dennis very glad that he had.
“Through faith, heaven itself can be moved in our behalf.”
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “One Step after Another,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 27.