My wife teases me because my memory is often found lacking, but I vividly remember a snow camp I participated in when I was a young scout. This particular camp was on Mt. Bachelor in the Oregon Cascade Mountains.
It was a beautiful crisp day with a cloudless sky and our Scout Troop had spent months preparing for this snow camp, learning how to cross country ski and build snow caves. We learned how to properly design and build the cave allowing for ventilation and drainage of the condensation. Following this design, our snow cave would keep us warm and dry. During our preparations we acquired the proper equipment and clothing and we were ready to go. Our scoutmaster had taught us well.
The day of the camp we were excited. We drove to the mountains and skied a couple of miles in to our site and began to set up camp, but instead of spending the time and putting forth the effort to create a proper snow cave, my friends and I decided we had a better idea. Instead of building the cave, which would keep us dry and warm, we dug a wide ditch, figuring we could lie safely below the cold blowing wind and we could enjoy sleeping comfortably under the beautiful mountain stars. Despite the good teaching and counsel we had received from our leader we had discovered a better way to camp in the snow.
By 5:00 PM the sky was nearly dark and the clouds began to move in. We were tired from all the snow playing and skiing we had done so we finished dinner and climbed into our sleeping bags. We could hear the wind blow harmlessly above us and we were comfortable in our ditch.
An hour or so later fear began to set in as we heard thunder and saw lightning flash across the sky, and then it happened. It rained. And not just a light sprinkle. It rained hard and steady. My comfortable little ditch became a small stream as the rainwater searched for a conduit to run off. My warm down sleeping bag was right in the middle of the stream. It quickly became soggy and cold, but I was determined I would endure and not let the others see how uncomfortable I was. I was not willing to give up my position in the ditch or accept defeat, but the night seemed to last forever. I remember being horrified when I heard snow mobilers come through the camp. I looked at my watch after what had felt like an eternity and realized it was only 9 PM. At that point I knew this was going to be a long and difficult night. I climbed out of my useless sleeping bag which felt like a pile of wet mashed potatos and my clothes were soaked. A couple of my friends were already up so I joined them around a camp stove warming our hands and trying to heat up water for hot chocolate.
After a couple of hours around the stove I was exhausted. I needed to find a place to lie down and get some rest but I knew my sleeping bag was useless so I quietly crawled into my wise scoutmasters snow cave where he, his sons and a couple of others were sleeping comfortably. There was not much space so I squeezed my way in and found some open ground and lay down to sleep on the cold snow in my wet clothes.
I don’t know how much time passed but I recall my scoutmaster waking me up. Apparently my chattering teeth and shaking body had awakened him and as a medical doctor he was concerned hypothermia had set in. Fortunately I survived the night because of his care.
When I was taught and counseled to build a snow cave, I never imagined it would rain, snow maybe, but not rain. I thought building my ditch was just as good, or better than a snow cave. Instead of following wise counsel and having a positive experience with this snow camp, I had to learn my lesson the hard way. I am reminded of the quotation, “an intelligent man learns from his mistakes but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”
We have numerous examples in our scriptures of individuals and even entire peoples who ignored the words of the prophets and were destroyed as a consequence. These people thought they knew a better way, or simply didn't care about the counsel that was given. Are we wise enough to learn from the mistakes of others and learn that we must follow the counsel of the prophets of God? Or are we doomed to learn our lessons the hard way, and hope that somehow we are saved from our own foolishness?
Finding Safety in Counsel (Henry B. Eyring- May ’97 Ensign)
“We are blessed to live in a time when the priesthood keys are on the earth. We are blessed to know where to look and how to listen for the voice that will fulfill the promise of the Lord that he will gather us to safety.”
“Sometimes we will receive counsel that we cannot understand or that seems not to apply to us, even after careful prayer and thought. Don’t discard the counsel, but hold it close.”
“When a prophet speaks, those with little faith may think that they hear only a wise man giving good advice. Then if his counsel seems comfortable and reasonable, squaring with what they want to do, they take it. If it does not, they consider it either faulty advice or they see their circumstances as justifying their being an exception to the counsel.”
“Having listening ears requires humility.”
If we have listening ears we will find safety in the counsel of our priesthood leaders and prophets. I hope others will not be as foolish as I was when I was a young scout, disregarding the counsel of my leader because I could not see the reason, or wisdom of the counsel. Even though I thought I was exempt from such counsel, it was meant as a protection for me. Likewise, the counsel of the prophets is meant for each of us. We are not exempt from obeying any commandment or counsel from our Father in Heaven. We will find safety as we heed the counsel of the prophets.