COLUMN: Elevation and transformation

Published 7:35 pm Sunday, July 2, 2023

Along the Lakeshore Trail at Holliday Lake State Park, there are signs that caution hikers about upcoming creek crossings. Following a storm, these creeks can be almost impassable. Even during normal conditions, this area of the trail can be muddy and buggy. 

But at a certain point there is a climb up and out of this area, where hikers see an elevated view and may expect that the rest of the trail will be dry. 

However, the trail drops down again for another stretch of potentially muddy creek crossings, before finally rising to a higher elevation and continuing around the lake. 

As I hiked the trail a couple of weeks ago, I pondered how we sometimes have elevating experiences, drawing close to God, but then return to the muddy creek bottoms of our lives. 

Perhaps we connect with Heaven through repenting of a sin or a shortcoming, accessing the power of the Savior’s infinite Atonement. Perhaps we commit to more diligent discipleship after reading an inspiring passage of scripture or hearing the words of living prophets and apostles. 

But then, after a spiritual high, we fall back to our former ways. 

This calls to mind the experience of the ancient apostles. Following Christ’s death and resurrection, Peter said, “I go a fishing,” and several other apostles followed (see John 21:1-14). 

After all they had seen and experienced, hearing the Savior’s pure and simple gospel directly from the source, witnessing His miracles firsthand, and observing his care and compassion for every individual, these apostles returned to their previous lives, resuming their former occupations as fishermen as if it had all been a dream.

Then Jesus visited the apostles. At that joyous gathering, the Savior asked Peter: “Lovest thou me more than these?” When Peter responded affirmatively, Christ instructed: “Feed my lambs…Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).

Of this experience, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught: 

“We have neighbors to bless, children to protect, the poor to lift, and the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right, truths to share, and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can’t quit and we can’t go back. After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before. The Crucifixion, Atonement, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ mark the beginning of a Christian life, not the end of it. It was this truth, this reality, that allowed a handful of Galilean fishermen-turned-again-Apostles to leave those nets a second time and go on to shape the history of the world in which we now live.” 

May we each be elevated and truly transformed by experiences with our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ on a daily basis through prayer, scripture study, meditation, and service.

Dr. Brent Roberts is the Branch President in the Sandy River Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also Dean of Greenwood Library at Longwood University. He can be reached at