“Staying Centered,” New Era, Nov. 1999, 44
“I can fly,” laughed Carlos as he went spiraling into the cool Idaho evening. He landed in the playground sand and rolled like a movie stuntman.
He brushed himself off and ran back to the merry-go-round, but it was spinning too fast to get back on. The four of us, all college roommates, had the thing moving so fast that I was afraid it would spin off its braces and take flight. I guessed we’d break out of the earth’s gravitational pull somewhere near Boise, and I’d never get home for Christmas.
“Is there a point to this?” I yelled at Dave, who was leading our family home evening activity that night.
“Yep. And remember, I buy pizza for whoever stays on the longest,” he called from his position in the middle of the twirling merry-go-round.
Our roommate Brad, however, was standing near the edge of the contraption, and I could see his grip was not that secure. From the ground Carlos saw too and began spinning us until we were moving at particle-accelerator velocity. Finally, Brad slipped and was sucked off like he’d just opened the door of a flying 747. He crashed right into Carlos. The two of them landed on the sand in an awkward heap.
“Okay, I win,” I yelled. “Now stop this thing before I throw up.”
We eventually slowed the ride, and Dave gathered us on one of the park benches to give us his lesson.
“Anyone know why I put us through this merry-go-round exercise tonight?” he asked.
“Mental instability?” Brad guessed.
“A sadistic streak?” I asked. My world was still spinning.
“Thanks, but wrong. Did you notice why Carlos and Brad flew off?” Dave asked.
“Yeah, because you took the middle,” said Brad.
“Actually, there was room for all of us,” Dave added.
“Yeah, but it’s not as wild a ride in the middle,” I added.
“True,” said Dave, “there are greater risks on the outside—which is my point tonight. It’s safer when we are in the center—on the merry-go-round and in the Church.
“You’ll find that when you move away from the teachings of the Savior and the prophets, you find yourself taking risks you know you shouldn’t. And then you can suddenly find yourself far away from the Church. And it can be really hard to get back on the ride again once you’re off. Right, Carlos?”
Carlos nodded and brushed a few flecks of sand off his jacket.
Dave opened his scriptures and read from Moroni 10:32 [Moro. 10:32]. “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”
Dave closed the scriptures. “Being a member of the Church is the greatest blessing in the world,” he said. “This scripture reminds us that if we come unto Christ and do all He has asked of us, we won’t be led astray. And if we stay centered on Him, following the teachings of the Church and the prophets, we won’t be tempted to take the risks that will throw us off the path that leads home.”
I have never forgotten Dave’s lesson. Every year the world seems to move faster and the distractions and temptations are greater, but I know if I stay centered I will avoid the greatest risks.
As Dave reminded me, by staying close to Christ I can overcome anything.