Life is full of ups and downs, joys and difficulties. I was touched to the point of tears this morning after reading a blog post about a faithful and courageous father and mother who are doing their best to cope with the passing of their newborn son.
It certainly leads us to ponder just how temporary life can be, and how we should make the most of each day. I am impressed by the thoughts of Gary E. Stevenson:
I first share the story of Noelle Pikus-Pace. In Noelle’s event, the skeleton, athletes build momentum as they sprint and then plunge headfirst on a small sled. With their faces inches above the ground, they race down a winding, icy track at speeds that top 90 miles (145 km) an hour.
Remarkably, years of preparation would be considered either a success or a disappointment based on what happened in the space of four intense 60-second runs.
Noelle’s previous 2006 Olympic dreams were dashed when a terrible accident left her with a broken leg. In the 2010 Olympics her dreams fell short again when just over one-tenth of a second kept her from the medal stand.2
Can you imagine the anxiety she felt as she waited to begin her first run in the 2014 Olympics? Years of preparation would culminate in only a sliver of time. Four minutes total. She spent years preparing for those four minutes and would spend a lifetime afterward reflecting on them.
Noelle’s final runs were virtually flawless! We will never forget her leap into the stands to embrace her family after crossing the finish line, exclaiming, “We did it!” Years of preparation had paid off. We saw her Young Women medallion around her neck as the silver medal was placed there beside it.3
It may seem unfair that Noelle’s entire Olympic dreams hinged on what she did during just four brief minutes. But she knew it, and that is why she prepared so diligently. She sensed the magnitude, the urgency of her four minutes, and what they would mean for the rest of her life.
We also remember Christopher Fogt, a member of the team that won the bronze medal in the four-man bobsled race. While he could have given up after a devastating crash in the 2010 Olympics, he chose to persevere. After a fantastic, redemptive run, he won the prize he so diligently sought.4
Now, consider how your pathway to eternal life is similar to these athletes’ “four-minute performance.” In the presence of a loving Heavenly Father, you trained and prepared to come to earth for a brief moment and, well, perform. This life is your four minutes. While you are here, your actions will determine whether you win the prize of eternal life.
In a sense, your four minutes have already begun. The clock is ticking. The words of the Apostle Paul seem so fitting: to run the race, that you may obtain the prize.6
In the same way that certain steps are essential in the very brief performance of an Olympic athlete—jumps or maneuvers for ice skaters and snowboarders, negotiating the turns of a bobsled run, or carving through the gates of a downhill slalom course—so it is in our lives, where certain things are absolutely essential—checkpoints which move us through our spiritual performance on earth.
My young friends, wherever you are in your “four-minute performance,” I urge you to ponder, “What do I need to do next to ensure my medal?” Whatever it may be, do it now. Don’t wait. Your four minutes will pass quickly, and you’ll have eternity to think about what you did in this life.8
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “I already blew it. My four minutes are already a disaster. I may as well give up.” If so, stop thinking that, and never think it again. The miracle of the Atonement can make up for imperfections in our performance.Remember, you are not alone. The Savior has promised that He will not leave you comfortless.11 You also have family, friends, and [others] who are cheering you on.
I am particularly mindful of the blessing it is to be a mother during my "four minutes." I loved the opportunity on Mother's Day to talk with our daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and each of our children, including those who live far away. It brought a feeling of pure joy.
It seems like time slips away with lightning speed. When our children were young, some people told me to enjoy our children when they were little because they would grow up too fast. I found it hard to believe then. Now I wish I would have listened more to what they had said.
One thing our children haven't outgrown is a tasty snack idea my sister shared with us. It is called "Tortilla Pizza" and can be found in my cookbook. It is a great after-school/pre-dinner snack. I hope you enjoy it!
Top a tortilla with spaghetti sauce, pepperoni or bacon pieces, cheese, and other desired toppings. Put another tortilla on top and fry in small amount of olive oil on both sides until lightly browned and cheese is melted. Cut into pie-shaped pieces and serve warm.