All the water in the world,

However hard it tried,

Could never sink the smallest ship

Unless it gets inside.

And all the evil in the world,

The blackest kind of sin,

Can never hurt you the least bit

Unless you let it in.


A few years ago, a couple good friends and I were given a 35-foot sailboat. We had a little experience sailing and were excited to sail this larger boat. So, one windy day, two of us set out from a marina at Lake Anna to try out our new toy. Within a few minutes of leaving the dock, we knew something was terribly wrong. The boat wouldn’t respond to the rudder, but instead was blown aimlessly by the strong wind. After nearly running ashore and a strong gust almost capsizing us, we knew we had to change something. We stopped everything and did a quick analysis of the situation. To our surprise, we found that we had forgot to un-clip the mainsail’s boom when we had raised the sail. We undid this simple clip and had a great time sailing for the day.

We’ve all had experiences in life where we’ve figuratively almost run ashore or capsized. Or maybe we’re at a state in life where there is no “almost” about it … we’re stuck, or our boats are figuratively upside down in the water. It’s at these moments when we step back and realize (like my good friend and I did that day sailing) that we need to make some changes. Often, the changes are small things (like undoing that clip) that can have a powerful impact on our lives.

The beauty of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that change is always possible. Jesus said “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17). His Gospel is for those in a sinking boat as well as those that are cruising leisurely through life. I hope that nobody views our communities’ churches as retreats reserved for the perfect, but rather as hospitals for the diseased. If you’re in that moment when you’re looking at life and saying you need a change, please turn to Jesus Christ as your Savior and Redeemer. As the sign in one of our local churches says, “God allows U-turns.”

You might be asking yourself, “but what do I change?” or “What can you do to right the boat?” My friend and I were trying that day to break the natural laws that govern sailing. We were trying to sail without allowing the boom to move. Often, when life isn’t going right, it’s because we’re trying to break some of the natural laws that God has put into place. A religious term for this is sin, and the change is called repentance. But don’t let any of the negative connotations you might associate with these words cause a mental block here. Repentance isn’t something bad. Instead, it’s the blessing of figuratively unclipping that boom in our lives and living in accordance with God’s natural laws. If you’re not sure what these laws are, come to church with us and learn them.

I love the above anonymous poem. We’re all on a journey, sailing through life’s seas. Sometimes we’re riding high with the wind in our sails. And other times we’re struggling to make any kind of progress. But regardless of how life is going, please heed the Master of the wind and waves, and keep the weight of sin out of your boat.

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John Genho is president of the Fredericksburg Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a regional post that oversees seven congregations and about 3,000 members.

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