During this period of indefinite length, Taylor told the team something powerful, explained Sister Michelle D. Craig. Taylor told them to “win the wait.”
“That phrase has stayed in my heart and mind since I heard it,” Sister Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, told Ensign College students in a devotional on Tuesday, March 14.
Rather than just passively wait for the end of the pandemic restrictions, the athletes could use the time to creatively train, improve and stretch themselves in new and different ways. And when the wait was over, they were prepared to compete — and win. And they did, winning the 2021 NCAA women’s championship.
Sister Craig said everyone is waiting for something: finishing school, a dream job, marriage, children, better health, healed relationships or any number of things.
“I bear testimony that in the waiting, Jesus Christ can be with us to strengthen, to sanctify, to purify and prepare — if we trust in Him,” Sister Craig said.
Growth happens in the waiting
Sister Craig shared another example of winning the wait. Principal Tabernacle organist Richard Elliott injured his left arm in an accident in August 2008. He wondered whether he would even resume his career.
While waiting weeks to use his arm again, he decided to focus on his organ pedaling footwork. He wrote an arrangement for “Go Tell It on the Mountain” in which he primarily used his feet for bass notes and the melody, gradually adding notes on the keyboard with his right hand, and then finally his left.
That Christmas he performed it in the Conference Center and received a standing ovation.
Sister Craig said Elliott won the wait, by putting into faithful practice the counsel from Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “If a desired blessing from God has not been received — yet — you do not need to go crazy, wondering what more you need to do. Instead, heed Joseph Smith’s counsel to ‘cheerfully do all things that lie in [your] power; and then … stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the … arm [of God] … revealed’” (“Abound with Blessings,” April 2019 general conference).
Waiting in the wilderness
Sister Craig said the scriptures are full of wilderness places where prophets and people of God have had to wait. It can feel like people have to wait and toil in the wilderness today.
“In these experiences, we learn to trust in Him and in His timing,” Sister Craig said.
Jesus Christ was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, and that’s where He drew closer to Heavenly Father.
Lehi’s vision began in a “dark and dreary wilderness” where he remained “for the space of many hours” (1 Nephi 8:4,8). But the Lord gave Lehi new sight and a broader perspective.
The children of Israel waited and wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. The Lord gave them a miracle of food on the ground. Exodus 16:15 says, “They said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was.”
Sister Craig said often people do not always understand what God is giving them — even though it might be something lifesaving, like manna, a representation of the bread of life.
“This is where faith in Jesus Christ comes in, which is a principle of action,” she said. “We gather up daily that which we don’t always understand, but that which can strengthen us. We look forward with an eye of faith. As our journey progresses, we can look back at our most challenging struggles and know that we were not left to wander alone.”
Binding to the Lord
Sister Craig said she has always loved Isaiah 40:31, which says: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
The Hebrew word for wait means “to bind together,” Sister Craig explained, and the Greek translation of the word wait can mean “to expect.”
“As we faithfully wait upon the Lord, binding ourselves to Him, we can expect miracles,” Sister Craig said.
Sister Craig told the students they are here on purpose and with a purpose. She asked them to be patient in the waiting and in the wilderness places — to work, repent and keep on trying. With consistent effort and with the power that comes from covenant making and covenant keeping, they can progress along the covenant path.
“I don’t know when all of my prayers will be answered — there are things I have been praying about for many many years. But this I do know, that our loving Heavenly Father fulfills all of His promises — they are sure,” she said.