Saturday, January 18, 2014

President's Weekly Letter #69

The Turning Point

Every competition has a turning point.  In Nederlands we say, “Elke wedstrijd heeft een keer punt.”  In any game, in any sport, in any activity; there is a moment when the win is secured.      After a game has concluded, after the dust has settled and after the seemingly mortal combat of the participants on both sides has ended, that turning point will stand out.  It will be a play or an event during the game that turned the tide to determine the eventual winner.  Finding the turning point applies not only in competition but to most activities we take part in during our lives, such as a mission.

For years, I participated in the alumni basketball tournament in Fillmore, Utah which was held each year between Christmas and New Years in the Millard High School gymnasium.  People who played high school or any basketball at Millard were either in town visiting relatives or would come to town to participate in this popular, annual tournament.  Teams were formed chronologically via graduating class, from the most recent graduated to the oldest who still played.  In the older ages, Classes were combined to field the teams.  The last year that I played was in about 2007.  Due to a lack of players, just to organize the Oldies team, we included a player from a Class 10 years younger than me.  (He was the only one who could still shoot far enough to make a 3 pointer.)  We also allowed ‘move-ins’ to create teams to make the tournament more interesting. (In Fillmore, anyone living there but not born there is a ‘move-in’ for their whole life.) Competition is keen and it turns out to be 4 days of exhausting basketball.

I find high school basketball fascinating.  When I played we learned fundamentals.  We drilled and practiced until the fundamentals came naturally as if we were miraculously born playing that way.  Our offense was always structured and precise but lethal unless someone could simply out score us or find a way to keep us from doing our stuff.  The Oldies team consisted of players who were disciplined.  Most players today are caught up with Labron and others, who can overpower the opponent with their one-on-one, athletic skills.  Today kids practice to try to do what their hero does.  That is a big mistake.

As it turned out the Oldies could still play basketball, run the floor and score the ball.  Believe it or not, the fundamentals – pick and roll, give and go, penetrate and dish, etc. – still work in basketball.  In the championship game, we were playing a group of kids who had graduated 4 or 5 years ago.  They were all great athletes and many had played organized ball after high school.  We trailed the whole first half but had gradually worked back to 2 points behind at the break.  We took the first possession starting the second half, went down the floor and made a 3 point shot, yep, by our youngest player.  That put us 1 point ahead.  It was the turning point of the competition.  I could see the panic in the other players’ eyes, as they thought, “These guys are ahead; I am being humiliated by old men.”  They began attempting 3’s and individuals tried to take over the game with one-on-one maneuvers.  We ruthlessly kept carving them up with the pick and roll.  It was a beautiful thing.  And it proved once again that old age and treachery can win-out over youth and athleticism.

There are turning points in the scriptures. For example, the Savior made a statement early in his ministry that I could argue was His turning point, He said, “…Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19)  Look at what happened after this statement; it was the beginning of the end.

59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
60 … At the last came two false witnesses,
61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. (Matt 26:59-61)

39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,
40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. (Matt 27:39-40)

62 … the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. (Matt 27:62-64)

Consider the whole history of the Nephites.  I could argue that a statement by an angel early in 1Nephi was the turning point of that civilization, “…Know ye not that the Lord hath chosen him [Nephi] to be a ruler over you, and this because of your iniquities?…” (1 Nephi 3:29)  From that turning point, the Lamanites made continual war over their incorrect idea of this issue.  For example, the statement by Ammoron, who is later slain by Teancum, to Moroni while negotiating for prisoners and a century later Giddianhi’s statement to Lachoneus.  It is a curiosity to me why God’s children are so consumed, beginning in the council in heaven extending to today, with who gets to be in charge:

“17 … your fathers did wrong their brethren, insomuch that they did rob them of their right to the government when it rightly belonged unto them.” (Alma 54:17)

10 … that this my people may recover their rights and government, who have dissented away from you because of your wickedness in retaining from them their rights of government...” (3 Nephi 3:10)

Well, the question at the end of the day is, what will the turning point be for your mission or any other event in your life for that matter?  You are writing every day the story of your mission.  Will the story be filled with achievement, success and satisfaction or regrets, unhappiness and empty memories that are not treasures?  In that future day, when you think back on it, there will be an event or moment that you will look back on and say; from that point on my mission was different.

Christ said to his disciples, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” (Luke 5:4)  This is a great metaphor and key to abundant living.  We should not live in the safe shallow waters of less effort and less risk.  Living and operating in the deep means thinking and working big; making a splash.  Adam was told that he would earn his bread by the sweat of his brow for his own sake.  Work is a blessing that expands your skill, stretches your abilities and allows you to achieve with satisfaction.  Launch into the deep and your nets will metaphorically be filled as the disciples’ nets were filled.

Make today your turning point.  Do not wait for some future event that may or may not occur or not be noticed.  We believe we were ordained in the pre-existence to do this work at this time.  After all the eternities, you are here now on this short opportunity to complete your calling.  I encourage you will step up and really put forth your best effort in all aspects of the work.
President Robinson

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