Clarence stared out the car window as the harbor came into view. Boats bounced in the water in front of colorful houses and shops. Copenhagen, Denmark, was a beautiful city filled with palaces, mansions, and parks. It was not at all like his town back home in Utah. Clarence could picture the dusty streets where he ran races as a boy. As he got older, he ran faster and faster. Now he was a member of the United States track team, and tomorrow he would be facing a famous Danish runner in an important race.
“But that’s tomorrow,” thought Clarence. “Today is the Sabbath day.”
TJust then the car stopped at a small chapel with a few cars and bicycles parked in front. Clarence walked into the building where a church meeting had already started.
As Clarence snuck into the back of the meeting, one of the missionaries sitting on the stand recognized him from a news article about the race. He had read in the newspaper that Clarence would be coming to race. The branch president asked Clarence to come up and speak.
After Clarence told why he was visiting, one of the boys stood up and raised his hand. “Do you think you can beat the Danish champion?” he asked.
Clarence wasn’t sure what to say. The Danish runner did have a better time in the mile that season.
“Of course he can,” said one of the missionaries before Clarence could answer. “Because he lives the Word of Wisdom and the Danish champion doesn’t.” He opened his scriptures to D&C 89. He read the promise that those who keep the Word of Wisdom “shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint” (D&C 89:20).
And what could Clarence say? He knew the Word of Wisdom was true. But that alone didn’t mean he could win this race. It also required practice and skill, and it had to be Heavenly Father’s will. As Clarence left the meeting, he told himself, “Well, it won’t matter. No one from church will be at the race tomorrow anyway.”
TBut the next evening, as Clarence was warming up for his race, he looked up and saw the two missionaries with a group of about 17 boys. They had hadall come!
As they got closer, one of the missionaries whispered to Clarence, “If you’ve ever run in your life, you’d better run tonight.” Many of the boys weren’t members but had come with their friends to see if the Word of Wisdom was really true.
Clarence was worried. had already said a prayer back at his hotel. He had asked for protection and for help doing his best. But iIn this race, his best might not be good enough. This time he wasn’t running for his country, his school, or himself. He was running for a principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And he had to win. He found an empty room under the stadium to say another prayer.
Before praying, Clarence thought about another runner, Creed Haymond. He was a great sprinter who had promised his mother when he was young that he would never break the Word of Wisdom. When he’d heard that story, Clarence had made the same promise. And he had kept it.
HNow he prayed, “Father in Heaven, I know the Word of Wisdom is true, and I have never broken it. This situation is not of my doing and under the circumstances, bless me with victory. Nothing else will do.” As he walked out to the starting line, he knew Heavenly Father had heard his prayer.
The night was rainy and muddy, and as Clarence ran, it seemed that the first three laps were just like many other mile races he had run. The pace was plenty fast and the Danish champion was ahead, running very easily and very much like a champion. But as Clarence finished the third lap, suddenly he was not tired anymore. He started running faster, and it didn’t hurt. Going even a little faster still didn’t hurt. He passed the Danish champion and still went faster.
As Clarence came around the turn, his coach yelled, “Slow down! You’ll never make the finish line!” But Clarence knew he could keep running. And when he finished the race, he was over 50 yards (46 m) ahead of the Danish runner! And he knew he had won because Heavenly Father had answered his prayer and because the Word of Wisdom is true.
You can’t expect each time you are in a contest that Heavenly Father will help you win just because you are to be able to say to your Father in Heaven, “Bless me that I might win because I live the Word of Wisdom, or because I am a good member of the Church and yourmy opponents aren’t.” The Lord in His wisdom will make you earn your victories. The Lord in His wisdom will not give you victory just for the asking. However, if you represent a principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ in your contest, and you are worthy and clean, and you ask, in with faith, for the Lord’s help, that will always be a victoryyou will always be victorious. The Lord will bless you under these circumstances.