Here in Utah, July 24th is a state holiday. It's the day that the first pioneers meandered into the Salt Lake Valley after crossing the plains from Illinois. We don't actually celebrate our statehood day, like most states. We celebrate the day our state was discovered, so to speak. That day, so long ago, people with horrifying and tragic pasts stepped out into uncharted territory (literally) and hoped for a place that would give them peace and prosperity.
While there were trials ahead (and they were numerous--have you seen the deserts in Utah?), they had faith that the land around them would become home. That they would be able to rest for a season. That they would build families and lives of substance and meaning.
I look at those men and women, the early pioneers, and marvel at their sacrifices. They came in droves. An entire church and community moved from all over the world to the haven they wanted to build here in Utah. Some of them gave up everything they had, including the families they had grown up in, to walk more than 1200 miles. My own ancestors were members of an ill-fated handcart company that left too late in the summer and were stranded in deep snow in western Wyoming.
I think about about those men and women and what they did. What they sacrificed. The faith they had. And then, I look at my own life. There have been dark, horrible, and tragic moments. There have been moments of trial and testing. My family struggles with the economy and sickness and a dozen other things at different times. And I wonder if I am like them--those amazing people who took a step into the dark and set themselves up for greatness. Do I have the faith and courage to walk into the unknown, whatever that may be for me, and do something hard. Something new. Something beautiful.
How about you, friends? What lessons do you learn from the past? Have you made any leaps of faith?