Wrestling with the Lord in Lake Simcoe

Wrestling with the Lord in Lake Simcoe

From Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul

Wrestling with the Lord in Lake Simcoe

But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.

Ps. 66:19

It was amidst the waves of Lake Simcoe that I first learned how to pray for a result and obtain it.

Before becoming an independent branch, the Korean group from our stake in Toronto held an annual family and friends campout on the second-to-last long weekend of the summer. My wife is native South Korean and one of the first Korean members of the Church to live in Toronto, so, naturally, we attended whenever we could.

Let there be no mistake: This is not an adventure story. This wasn’t wilderness camp by any means. In the public campground at Lake Simcoe, well-paved roads lead to carefully cropped fields surrounded by controlled tree growth, providing several spaces for individual and group campsites. There is running water and electricity at the camp. Brother Park always strung up somanywires for lights, rice cookers and radios that the area around his tents looked more like a Christmas display than a campsite.

Camp activities were well planned. Sunday included church services and gospel-centered fun. The last day of camp included group competitions and sports. Among the more spontaneous events over the weekend were hiking, crawfish hunting and swimming.

One year a group of us were swimming on Saturday afternoon. The campground had a large beach with demarcated swimming areas of various depths. On that day the beach was crowded; the sun was warm and the water refreshing. Waves lapped steadily. Children and adults who were laughing, leaping and splashing seemed to cover every inch of sand and water.

I was out in the water some distance with my children, David and Hannah, and our friends, Alma (an Iranian-born member who always tagged along with the Korean group) and his son David, when we heard that one of the boys had lost his glasses in the water. Apparently the glasses had been in the pocket of his trunks until just a few minutes earlier.

Had it not also been pathetic, it would have been humorous to see us all carefully charting every inch of the swimming area to see if we could find the glasses. But with the number of people swimming and the constant flow of the current, the glasses would have been quickly carried off or sifted deep under the churning sand. Our efforts seemed unpromising.

I had lost a pair of glasses in a lake once, and I sympathized with the boy. It would be expensive for his family to replace them, and the loss would limit his enjoyment of the weekend. So we kept searching.

As we searched, most of us were uttering simple, silent prayers that we might find his glasses; still, our efforts seemed to be to no avail.

It occurred to me then that I ought to pray harder and really mean it. I closed my eyes and said, “Heavenly Father, surely you can help us find these glasses. Please show me where they are.” Images of the areas we had already searched passed through my mind, but I felt certain about none of them. I continued, “Father, you have parted the Red Sea and guided people safely through. Surely, this is a small thing to ask.”

I began to feel in my imagination somewhat like the Old Testament patriarchs who would, as the scriptures say, “wrestle” with the Lord to obtain His blessing. At the very least, I was reasoning with Him, trying to give Him all the reasons I could think of that it should be a simple thing for Him to grant this request.

I continued to pray in that manner for several minutes, recommencing my prayer at least five times—and, each time after I finished a prayer, waiting for some kind of answer. Strangely, while I was actively searching for the glasses I felt more and more feeble and uncertain—but while I prayed I felt only bolder, more confident and more faithful.

Finally, at the conclusion of what I think was the fifth prayer, I saw a clear image in my mind of the large podium in the swimming area that marks where the “deep end” begins. I felt that it was possible the glasses were there. I turned immediately and walked toward it. One, two, three steps, and suddenly something hard and thin was under my feet. I grappled at it gently with my toes, then bent down and picked it up. There were the boy’s glasses. They had been barely covered by the sand, but ready to slip away forever. I lifted them first gingerly and then triumphantly, and thankfully held them overhead.

This was a minor miracle on any scale, but the experience illustrated to me how the exertions of our faith can qualify us for the miracles we desire. I have since had other occasions to seek the Lord’s help in more serious matters. I now have a better understanding of how willingly He answers, how ready He is to give us the good things that we desire, and how fervently He wants us to try our faith and exert our wills to approach and obtain His grace.

Michael Clifton

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