Living by the scriptures

If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. — Isaiah 58:13-14

The past three years have kept me involved in humanitarian neurosurgery in East Africa. Many world-class runners were scheduled to compete in the Great Ethiopian Run on Nov. 30, 2003. I wanted to be among the 18,000 racing the 10 kilometers along the Addis Ababa streets lined by greenery and cheering spectators. There was no realistic hope of my competing with the likes of Haile Gebresalessie (Ethiopia) or Paul Tergat (Kenya). The specter of being one of the very few Caucasians — and one of the oldest, if not the very oldest — gave impetus to being in Africa's largest footrace.

My honoring Sunday as a day of worship presented a major obstacle to my entering that Sunday morning run. I rationalized that I might bring proselyting opportunities by being one of the runners. If I came in first in my age group — not unrealistic, considering the short average life-span in Ethiopia — I just might influence some runners or spectators in LDS lifestyles.

Then one morning, a few days before the race, I randomly opened my scriptures to Isaiah 58. Taking that chapter unto myself, as it says in 1 Nephi 19:23, was a moment of disappointment and a moment of truth. Isaiah spoke of fasting, avoidance of doing one's own thing, and honoring the Sabbath.

November 30 ended with memories of many good things that happened that day, including the dedication of Ethiopia's first chapel in Megenagna, which I would have missed had I followed my pride and not my conscience. Isaiah had spoken to me from out of the past, and I listened. — John R. Clark, Bloomington, Utah