Skiing with his grandson, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf fell and found himself unable to get up.
“I began to wonder what it would take to rescue me,” related President Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, in his priesthood session address. “That was when my grandson came to my side. I told him what had happened, but he didn’t seem very interested in my explanations of why I couldn’t get up. He looked me in the eyes, reached out, took my hand, and in a firm tone said, ‘Opa, you can do it now!’
“Instantly I stood.
“I am still shaking my head over this. What had seemed impossible only a moment before immediately became reality, because a 12-year-old boy reached out to me and said, ‘You can do it now!’ To me it was an infusion of confidence, enthusiasm and strength.”
Drawing a lesson from the experience, President Uchtdorf said to the priesthood session congregation that there may be times in one’s life when rising up and continuing on may seem beyond one’s ability.
“Sometimes we just need someone to look us in the eyes, take our hand and say, ‘You can do it now!’” he remarked.
He said he has watched men filled with potential and grace disengage from the work of building the kingdom of God because they had failed a time or two.
“No one likes to fail,” he said. “And we particularly don’t like it when others – especially those we love – see us fail. We want to be respected and esteemed. We want to be champions. But we mortals do not become champions without effort and discipline or without making mistakes.”
He added, “Brethren, our destiny is not determined by the number of times we stumble but by the number of times we rise up, dust ourselves off and move forward.”
President Uchtdorf remarked that prophets have repeatedly emphasized over the centuries that mankind can repent, change course and get back on the path of true discipleship.
“That does not mean that we should be comfortable with our weaknesses, mistakes or sins. No,” he said. “And there is an important difference between the sorrow for sin that leads to repentance and the sorrow that leads to despair.”
When guilt leads to self-loathing, it impedes rather than promotes repentance, he said.
“Let us rise up and become men of God. We have a champion, a Savior, who walked through the valley of the shadow of death on our behalf. He gave Himself a ransom for our sins. No one has ever had greater love than this – Jesus Christ, the Lamb without blemish, willingly laid Himself on the altar of sacrifice and paid the price for our sins to the ‘uttermost farthing.’”
A method of the adversary to prevent one from progressing “is to confuse us about who we really are and what we really desire,” President Uchtdorf observed.
“We want to spend time with our children, but we also want to engage in our favorite manly hobbies. We want to lose weight, but we also want to enjoy the foods we crave. We want to become Christlike, but we also want to give the guy who cut us off in traffic a piece of our mind.”
Another of the adversary’s methods, he said, “is to make us see the commandments as things that have been forced upon us. I suppose it is human nature to resist anything that does not appear to be our own idea in the first place.”
He added, “If we see healthy eating and exercise as something only our doctor expects of us, we will likely fail. If we see these things and choices as who we are and who we want to become, we have a greater chance of staying the course and succeeding.”
Similarly, those who see home teaching as only the stake president’s goal may place a lower value on doing it than if they desire to do it to become more Christlike and minister to others, President Uchtdorf said.
“It is a great source of spiritual power to live lives of integrity and righteousness and to keep our eyes on where we want to be in the eternities,” President Uchtdorf declared. “Even if we can see this divine destination only with the eye of faith, it will help us to stay the course.”
He urged, “My dear brethren, my dear friends, there will be times when you think you cannot continue on. Please trust the Savior and His love. With faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the power and hope of the restored gospel, you will be able to walk tall and continue on.”
Acknowledging that the path at times will be difficult, President Uchtdorf promised in the name of the Lord: “Rise up and follow in the footsteps of our Redeemer and Savior, and one day you will look back and be filled with eternal gratitude that you chose to trust the Atonement and its power to lift you up and give you strength.”