Last Sunday a great lesson on preparedness was taught in my Relief Society by our Stake Relief Society Presidency. One of the presidency members told us that they had decided it would be a great experience for our ward Relief Society if we all ran a marathon together, so…they had signed us all up for one the following week.Obviously, she wasn’t serious. But she made a great point and set up the rest of her remarks, on the parable of the Ten Virgins, very well.
How many women in the room, she asked, felt like they would be prepared to run a marathon just one week from then? Very few of us had ever even run one before. Out of the group, I was probably the best prepared, but even I didn’t feel ready. Perhaps I could have run a full marathon yesterday, rather than just my 20 mile training run, but it certainly would not have been pleasant. If we trained really hard could we get prepared in so short a time? How about, she asked, if you had run a marathon six months ago…could you do it again today without any interim training? Well I did run a marathon six months ago, and the answer is most certainly NO. Preparing for a marathon requires intensive training over a long period of time, and the old adage use it or lose it most definitely applies to running. Finally, she asked if you could “borrow” someone else’s ability, training, fitness, whatever…you get the point. Of course not, only you can train your own body to run a marathon.
I am of course familiar with the parable of the Ten Virgins, and have heard it taught in a variety of ways, but this particular analogy really struck me (I’m sure simply because I am a runner and am in fact currently training for a marathon). Not only can I not rely on borrowed oil (testimony; spiritual preparedness) when I meet the Savior, but neither can I rely simply on my past preparedness. That’s the part that really hit me…and again, I have always known this, but I think we all need to be reminded of these things periodically. I think it is just the absoluteness of the situation that struck me. If I haven’t been constantly training, even I’ve run a marathon less than a year ago, it would be absolutely impossible for me run one today. A few of the people I run with, they’re referred to as the “crazy runners,” basically keep themselves in constant marathon training mode…because they run upwards of five or six marathons a year. These guys and gals are running with the first five virgins, per say. I want to run, spiritually, with them; I need to keep myself in constant spiritual training mode, because I “know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13).
I can look back to different times in my life when I was living with a greater portion of His spirit, when my testimony burned just a little brighter. But then there are times when it has waned, not disappeared…just dimmed a little. It’s as if I have always been training sufficient to run a half marathon with just a week’s notice, but only at certain times have I been adequately prepared for a full one. I need to take my spiritual running up a notch and keep it there. This lesson couldn’t have come with better timing, for it was just last Sunday that I began my reading challenge. It is going very well so far, and I have already felt a greater abundance of the Spirit in my life as a result.
- Disclaimer: This analogy only goes so far. My marathon prepardness goal refers to the spiritual, not the physical. I by no means intend to condition myself to run half a dozen marathons every year for the rest of my life. After all, I’m not crazy.