Follow the Prophets

The golden question I found hiding in Elder Kearon’s ‘relentless pursuit’ talk

Screenshot (372).png
Things change when we know who we are running to and who we are running from.
Getty Images

After a nerve-wracking experience on a trail run, I see both Elder Patrick Kearon’s April 2024 conference talk and my personal dedication to God in a new light.

For the past month, I’ve been training for a 5K race. I’ve run one before, but it’s been a hot minute, filled with a few broken bones and not-a-few bowls of ice cream. Training has been slow, but I’ve been steady.

A few weeks ago, I went for my first long run in years. I parked my car at the beginning of the trail and started my warm-up walk. My goal was to run three miles.

I walked quickly, not only to get my heart rate up but to get past a shady (and I don’t mean sans sun) part of the trail about 50 feet from the parking lot. I’d been warned that people with nefarious intentions often ducked into that section of trees just off the trail. I’d never personally seen anyone go in or out of there, but whenever I ran, I was always on alert, just in case.

After about half a mile, I turned on my music and started my run, waving to the families, cyclists, and runners along the trail. About a quarter of a mile further, I passed another parking lot to my left. My ministering sister, Angie, lived in the house right across the street.

I kept running, and as I reached one mile, my body told me it was most assuredly not ready to run three miles. And so, I turned around. About this time, the weather had started to turn. The clouds and light rain chased away other trail-goers. I was now running alone. But I wasn’t afraid. I’d actually run alone on that trail many times before.

At the end of the two miles, I gladly stopped running and started my cool-down walk. As I walked, I checked my pace. I’d just run two thirteen-minute miles, which, for me, was fast and challenging. My tired legs and lungs thanked me for not trying to run three. The end of the trail, where my car was parked, is now about 200 feet away—but that’s when I see him. A man at the end of the trail, wearing all black, walking toward me.

I tell myself it’s fine. I’m fine and keep walking … until the man turned and casually disappeared into that grove of trees.

The self-talk continued. Yes, I am on the trail, alone. And the wooded area with the man in them is between me and my car, now only 150 feet away. But it would be fine, right? Totally fine.

But then, a feeling inside—no, a voice—quietly said six very loud words: “Turn around. Call Angie. And run.”

I immediately turned away from the man and began running.

I called Angie, who thankfully was home and immediately offered to walk across the street and meet me on the trail. I hung up and looked behind me. Still no sign of the man in black, so I slowed down to a walk, feeling a bit silly. I was being paranoid, wasn’t I? I should have just run to my car rather than backtracking to Angie’s.

I walked a few more seconds toward Angie’s house, then looked back again. That’s when the man poked his head out of the trees and then started walking more briskly in my direction.

I didn’t need a feeling or voice to tell me to run this time. I. Ran.

Angie’s house was further than I’d realized—over half a mile from where I was. I was tired, my legs hurt, my lungs burned. But I ran.

I looked back again to see the man still there. He was, seemingly, keeping up with my pace.

I turned to see Angie ahead of me now. Relief filled my soul. There she was, waiting. I wasn’t alone. I would be okay.

I looked back at the man, still coming my way. I turned forward again to Angie, who was walking toward me. I ran faster. As I neared her, she stretched her arms open wide, and I fell into them with joy.

I don’t know if that man on the trail had ill intentions. But the experience did teach me something with profound spiritual implications:

Things change when we know who we are running to and who we are running from.

I was exhausted after my initial run. But, when I realized I was in danger, I was able to muster stamina I didn’t think I had.

And when I saw the person in front of me who could save me, I ran with a strength and intensity I didn’t have before.

This reminded me of a stunning truth Elder Kearon shared in his recent general conference address, “God’s Intent is to Bring You Home”:

“My friends, my fellow disciples on the road of mortal life, our Father’s beautiful plan, even His ‘fabulous’ plan, is designed to bring you home, not to keep you out. No one has built a roadblock and stationed someone there to turn you around and send you away. In fact, it is the exact opposite. God is in relentless pursuit of you. He wants all of His children to choose to return to Him, and He employs every possible measure to bring you back.”

▶ You may also like: 9 of our favorite quotes from Elder Kearon’s first talk as an Apostle

On our road of mortal life, God truly is in relentless pursuit of us. He’s given us the gospel, a restored Church with His authority to provide and receive lifesaving (literally) covenants and ordinances, scriptures, modern-day prophets, and a community of Saints to travel with. He’s even given us a direct line to Him through the Spirit. He has done and will continue to do everything in His power to help us, change us, and bring us home without infringing on our personal agency.

The whispering of the Spirit on the trail was one small evidence of His love, care, and pursuit of me. But, the experience made me consider the imperative and powerful inverse question of Elder Kearon’s statement: Am I in relentless pursuit of God and His Son?

After I returned safely home, I checked my running stats again. I’d initially run two miles at a 13-minute-mile pace, and I was tapped out. I knew I couldn’t run more than two miles. But when I saw the precarious predicament I was in—when I was in perceived danger and running to the one who represented love and safety—I ran over nearly half of a mile at a 10-minute-mile pace to safety. I can’t remember the last time I ran that fast for that long. And that was after I thought I’d done all I could do, given all I had.

“The intent of the Father’s plan,” Elder Kearon so beautifully explained, “is in fact your redemption, your being rescued through the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ, freed from the captivity of sin and death.”

I wonder if we realized the precarious spiritual position we are each in right now, would we run faster and harder to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ? If we knew we were in danger and They were the only ones who could rescue us, would we be relentless in our pursuit of Their presence and Their power?

I know that when my focus is Them, I can muster hope when sorrow tells me it’s gone. I can tap into a spiritual intensity that doubts and fears try to smother. I don’t have to run faster than I have strength, but I know They will give me the strength to run to Them.

I wonder if this is what King Benjamin meant when he taught his people how to come to Christ and said, “See that all these things are done in wisdom and in order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize” (Mosiah 4:27, emphasis added).

It is expedient that we are diligent or relentless in our pursuit of Them. And so, I will relentlessly pursue Them in prayer, in the chapel pew, during the sacrament, in the temple, and in my scriptures. When the self-talk comes that says I’m fine, that I can leave my scriptures alone for a while, that missing one or two weeks of church isn’t a big deal, or that I’m sleepy and prayer can wait until tomorrow, I will remind myself that in every moment of my life, I am in need of being rescued. And I will run to Them.

Here is perhaps the most beautiful thing: They will always be there, giving me the strength I need, helping me to see all the wonderful and hard and good things I can do as They come to me, with open perfect arms and hearts, willing and wanting to pull me in.

To pull us in.


▶ You may also like: Why you doubt yourself—and the spiritual key to steady confidence

Get the April 2024 General Conference Addresses, Journal Edition

The General Conference Addresses, Journal Edition has all the text of the April 2024 general conference addresses in one spiral-bound paperback. Extra-wide, lined margins give you space to document the insights you receive. Create an enduring record to make the inspired teachings of general conference an ongoing part of your gospel learning.

Journals will begin shipping in May.

Stay in the loop!
Enter your email to receive updates on our LDS Living content