Howard W. Hunter, in the April General Conference of 1978, referenced a 1969 article published in the Church’s then Improvement Era magazine. The story tells of a young, unsuccessful quarterback on the football team of a small high school. He was the fourth string in his position, and had lost hope by the final game of the year, as he had never been called into a game. So, he pulled off his shoes and made himself comfortable on the bench to watch his buddies play. To everyone’s surprise, the Coach was heard midway through the game calling for this young man to go play for a possession. Unprepared and unsure what to do, the boy strapped his helmet on and ran out to the huddle, his feet white-stockinged and shoeless. The play was called and immediately forgotten by the startled quarterback, resulting in a hard to watch loss of yards. He later said, “No one expected me to make a touchdown. Even running the wrong way was understandable. But there was no excuse for a quarterback without shoes.”
As we all stray from our normal routines, and adjust to a sort of quarantined lifestyle, I wonder if we can’t learn from this regretful quarterback. It may seem that time away from school, recreational activities, or church (at least in their typical locations), could be constituted as a time for us to take a break. Whether it be physical, intellectual, social, or spiritual in nature, surely some have taken the opportunity to slack off. With 24 hours in a day and our usual activities replaced with nothing but screens and couches, it is only natural to be idle. This is okay, to an extent, but I’d like to just offer an important thought from Brother Hunter.
He invited that we “keep our gospel shoes on, to believe in the opportunities that lie ahead.”
We cannot know what lies ahead, but we can believe in the hope that our Lord will figuratively put us in the game at some point. Abraham Lincoln, when losing election after election, kept his shoes on and put it simply, “I will prepare, and perhaps my chance will come.” So prepare and stay ready.