Ship at sea returning to port

Navigating the Oceans of Life

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In April 2023, Tim Shaddock embarked on a thrilling adventure, setting sail from La Paz, Mexico, with his loyal companion Bella, bound for French Polynesia. The morning was a picture of serenity, with clear skies and calm seas mirroring Tim’s infectious optimism and eagerness for the journey ahead. With his trusty catamaran and a well-stocked supply of essentials, Tim was ready to test his sailing skills and forge a deep connection with the vast ocean.

However, the tranquility was shattered by an unexpected and ferocious storm that descended upon the sea a few weeks into his voyage. The winds howled, and the waves rose to towering heights, mercilessly pummeling his boat. The catamaran’s electronics and navigation systems were severely damaged, leaving Tim disoriented and struggling to regain control. The storm’s fury left him and Bella adrift in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, with their means of communication and navigation severely limited.

Tim and Bella confronted a series of daunting survival challenges for two grueling months. They relied on their ingenuity, collecting rainwater to quench their thirst and catching fish to sustain themselves. Tim sought refuge under a makeshift canopy during the day to shield himself from the scorching sun, conserve energy, and stave off dehydration. The situation grew increasingly dire as the days stretched into weeks, with no sign of rescue in the vast expanse of the ocean.

Their miraculous rescue came as a beacon of hope when a helicopter accompanying a tuna trawler spotted their damaged catamaran. In a display of true heroism, the crew rescued Tim and Bella, finding them in surprisingly good health despite their prolonged ordeal. Tim’s overwhelming relief and gratitude for the rescue were palpable as he acknowledged the combination of luck, skill, and determination that had kept them alive during the two months adrift.

As we undertake our journeys in life, we often leave the harbor with the best intentions and high expectations for where we are going.  We leave with provisions and spiritual GPS devices in tune and ready to direct us.  However, the waves and storms of the seas of life can affect us in much the same way Tim was affected in this story.  Let’s discuss some of the storms you may face in your journeys.

The Storms of Unchecked Doubt

The first type of storm I wish to discuss is the Storm of Unchecked Doubt. This storm is like a hurricane that starts small and can travel miles before gaining strength. Then, overnight, it booms into a category-five hurricane capable of destroying even the most devout Christians in its path.

This type of storm likely affected Judas Iscariot’s journey with Jesus Christ. Initially, Jesus chose Judas as one of the twelve disciples, indicating that he showed promise and dedication. As a follower of Christ, Judas witnessed numerous miracles, listened to profound teachings, and participated in the mission to spread the gospel. However, over time, his perspective began to shift.

While we will never know what led Judas to his end, Jesus knew him well and sent him out to minister in his name with the other apostles.  This tells us that Judas was not always disloyal, nor did he likely start with the goal of betraying Christ.

Judas likely had preconceived notions about the Messiah and how He would liberate Israel. Many Jews at the time expected a political savior who would overthrow Roman rule and restore Israel’s former glory. Judas may have grown disillusioned as Jesus’ ministry unfolded, focusing on spiritual salvation rather than political rebellion. The gap between his expectations and Jesus’ actions could have planted seeds of doubt and disappointment.

This disillusionment and doubt festered, leading Judas to question Jesus’ identity and mission. His faith wavered, and he began to entertain thoughts that diverged from the teachings he had once embraced. Eventually, these doubts led him down a dark path. Influenced by his discontent and possibly by greed, Judas agreed to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, a decision that would have catastrophic consequences.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas’s betrayal came to fruition. He led the chief priests and Pharisees to Jesus, identifying Him with a kiss. This act of treachery set in motion the events leading to Jesus’ crucifixion. Judas’s journey from a committed disciple to a betrayer is a powerful reminder of how unchecked doubts and unmet expectations can lead one astray.

Many young members of the Church today are questioning their faith. The adversary is sowing the seeds of doubt, and perhaps even someone reading this article right now feels the pressure from doubt. They see the bad things in the world and question what kind of loving Heavenly Father would allow them to happen. Or, perhaps, they have failed to see the hand of God in their lives and doubt His existence.

Often, these doubts start as small questions that nag at our existence until the pain of hearing them repeated in our ears leads us off course. Elder F. Enzio Busche provided wonderful advice in a BYU devotional on May 14, 1996: “On the road toward salvation, let questions arise but never doubts. If something is wrong, God will give you clarity but never doubts.”

When these questions arise in our lives, as they inevitably will, we need to keep them from becoming doubts.  Questions seek to fill the gaps in our knowledge and are great tools in discipleship, but doubts will cause you to revisit the things you know to be true with suspicion. You must identify and tune out these doubts by reconfirming what you know and how you know it. Strengthen your faith by continually seeking answers through prayer, scripture study, and the guidance of the Holy Ghost. By doing so, you can navigate Unchecked Doubts’ storms and continue your voyage.

The Waves of Complacency

Another significant spiritual danger we must consider are the Waves of Complacency. Like gentle waves on the ocean, we can be rocked into a sense of Complacency that can subtly erode our spiritual foundation, much like how a calm sea can suddenly give way to treacherous currents if we are not vigilant. The life of David from the Old Testament provides a profound example of how complacency can lead even the most faithful into grave sin and sorrow.

David’s early life is marked by remarkable faith and reliance on God. As a young shepherd, he bravely faced the giant Goliath, declaring his victory in the name of the Lord (1 Samuel 17:45-47). His rise to kingship was characterized by devotion and righteousness, uniting Israel and bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. His psalms reflect a deep, personal relationship with God, filled with praise and supplication.

However, David fell victim to complacency at the height of his power. In 2 Samuel 11, David remained in Jerusalem when kings typically led their armies into battle. This decision marked the beginning of his moral decline. One evening, from his rooftop, he saw Bathsheba bathing. Overcome by temptation, he summoned her and committed adultery. To conceal his sin, he orchestrated the death of her husband, Uriah. This series of actions revealed a significant lapse in David’s spiritual vigilance and integrity, born out of complacency and the misuse of his power.

David’s decision to stay behind during the battle season shows how complacency can make us vulnerable to temptation. When we are not actively engaged in our spiritual duties, we become more susceptible to sin. By shirking his responsibilities as king, David placed himself in a position where temptation could easily overtake him. In our lives, neglecting our spiritual responsibilities—such as prayer, scripture study, and service—can lead us into situations where we are more likely to fall.

David’s sins had severe consequences, both personally and for his kingdom. The death of Uriah, the death of the child born from his adultery, and the subsequent turmoil within his family illustrate how far-reaching the effects of complacency and sin can be. David’s sincere repentance, captured in Psalm 51, shows the importance of recognizing our sins, seeking forgiveness, and returning to God. His plea for a “clean heart” and a “right spirit” (Psalm 51:10) is a model for how we should respond when we falter.

In our lives, the waves of complacency can manifest in various ways. We might become comfortable in our routines, neglecting the spiritual practices that keep us close to God. We might assume that our past righteousness will carry us through, forgetting that maintaining a relationship with God requires constant effort. Just as David needed to stay vigilant and engaged in his kingly duties, we must stay spiritually active and aware. Regular self-assessment, repentance, and a commitment to living the gospel can help us avoid the pitfalls of complacency. By doing so, we can ensure that we remain on the path to salvation, continually seeking and relying on God’s guidance and strength.

The Storm of Suffering and Trials

Finally, I want to write about the Storms of Suffering and Trials.  These storms are the hurricanes of life that often hit us suddenly and without warning.  They can leave us reeling in pain and willing to compromise our faith.  These challenges can test our faith and resilience, requiring us to rely on God for strength and deliverance. 

One profound example of enduring such storms is the story of Alma the Younger and his people in the Book of Mormon.

Alma the Younger and his followers had fled from the wicked King Noah and established a peaceful community in the land of Helam. Their trials began abruptly when they were discovered by the Lamanites, who placed them in bondage. The Lamanites were led by Amulon, a former priest of King Noah, who harbored a deep resentment towards Alma and his people. This unexpected captivity brought severe trials, including heavy physical labor and spiritual oppression. Amulon forbade them from praying, adding to their suffering by denying them the comfort and guidance of direct communication with God.

Despite these harsh conditions, Alma and his people continued to pray silently, maintaining their faith and patience. Their suffering was prolonged, and their deliverance did not come quickly. They endured this harsh captivity for an extended period before the Lord miraculously delivered them. Through divine intervention, including the miraculous deep sleep that fell upon their Lamanite guards, Alma and his people were able to escape and return to safety in Zarahemla (Mosiah 23-24).

This story of Alma and his followers illustrates the importance of enduring faith and patience during severe trials. Their unwavering trust in God, even when forbidden to pray openly, highlights the power of silent, persistent faith. The miraculous nature of their deliverance underscores the truth that God hears our prayers and can provide a way out of our difficulties, often in unexpected and profound ways.

Today, we may encounter sudden and severe trials that test our faith and resilience. These could be health crises, financial difficulties, loss of loved ones, or other personal hardships. Like Alma and his people, we must maintain our faith and trust in God’s plan, even when immediate relief seems distant. Through prayer, scripture study, and the support of our faith community, we can find the strength to endure.

The story of Alma and his people serves as a powerful reminder that suffering and trials, though challenging, can lead to greater spiritual growth and deeper reliance on God. As we navigate our own storms, we can take comfort in the knowledge that God is aware of our struggles and will provide deliverance in His own time and way. By enduring faithfully, we can emerge stronger and more refined, ready to continue our journey with renewed strength and faith.


Like you, I have been tossed in life’s tumultuous waves. There have been times earlier in my life when this led me away from the church and its gospel truths. If we are not careful, it is easy to stray from our course and get stuck waiting for rescue.  We may not even see that our lives are in danger.

I invite you to check your navigational equipment by praying daily for direction from the Lord, then pack spare parts to repair it when needed by constantly reading your scriptures.  The journey will not be easy, but with care and preparation, we can fit our ships to remain on course and arrive safely back in the harbor of Our Heavenly Father’s arms. 

That you be ever vigilant and anchored in the truths of the gospel is my humble prayer for you, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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