Life is ‘race with clearly defined goal’

In the April 1988 general conference, President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency said that the Apostle Paul likened life to "a race with a clearly defined goal." President Monson quoted Paul's admonition to the saints at Corinth:

" `Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.' " (1 Cor. 9:24.)President Monson spoke of his boyhood days when he and friends made toy boats from the wood of a willow tree. Launched in the river, the boats would sometimes get caught in the swift currents of shallow water. They sailed serenely as they reached deeper water.

"The toy boats of childhood had no keel for stability, no rudder to provide direction, and no source of power," President Monson said. "Inevitably their destination was downstream – the path of least resistance.

"Unlike toy boats, we have been provided divine attributes to guide our journey. We enter mortality not to float with the moving currents of life, but with the power to think, to reason and to achieve.

"Our Heavenly Father did not launch us on our eternal voyage without providing the means whereby we could receive from Him guidance to ensure our safe return. Yes, I speak of prayer. I speak, too, of the whisperings from that still, small voice within each of us; and I do not overlook the holy scriptures, written by mariners who successfully sailed the seas we too must cross.

"At some period in our mortal mission, there appears the faltering step, the wan smile, the pain of sickness – even the fading of summer, the approach of autumn, the chill of winter, and the experience we call death.

"Every thoughtful person has asked himself the question best phrased by Job of old: `If a man die, shall he live again?' (Job 14:14). Try as we may to put the question out of our thoughts, it always returns. Death comes to all mankind. It comes to the aged as they walk on faltering feet. Its summons is heard by those who have scarcely reached midway in life's journey, and often it hushes the laughter of little children.

"But what of an existence beyond death? Is death the end of all? Such a question was asked of me by a young husband and father who lay dying. I turned to the Book of Mormon and, from the book of Alma, read to him these words:

" `Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection – Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.

" `And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.' " (Alma 40:11-12).