The Bike and The Wind

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True Story Shared in BYU Devotional

A  true story (that happened about 20 years ago) shared by Richard Cracroft at a BYU Devotional, June 29, 1993 about a young Swedish woman: 

"Sister Ingrid Olsen (not her real name) was a recently divorced mother of a young son and was almost as recently a convert to the Church. The divorce had alienated Ingrid from part of her family, and her conversion to Mormonism had alienated her from her friends. The resulting personal anguish had dampened her initial joy in joining the Church. She felt alone and abandoned and overwhelmed before an uncertain future. In the midst of such turmoil, her prayers seemed futile, and what had initially been a time of spiritual refreshing had become a season of despair.   

"Bewildered by it all, she welcomed one afternoon the opportunity to visit a cousin in a neighboring village, nearly ninety minutes away by bicycle. She planned to devote the trip to prayer, hoping to receive some indication that her Heavenly Father understood her plight and would give her some needed direction and solace. As she rode her bicycle toward her destination, she was miserably aware that the darkening day and threatening clouds matched her own darkened spirits, and she felt that her prayers were rebounding, unheard and unanswered, from the leaden heavens.

'In this state of mind, Ingrid at length reached the distant village and made her visit. Starting on her return trip, she rode her bicycle up a long incline in the face of an increasingly strong wind before which she could hardly make progress. Seeing in her difficulty an opportunity to test the reality of the Lord, she went into a grove of trees and prayed that the Father would manifest his presence in a simple way: He would stop the wind. And she would know that he heard her prayers and knew her predicament. Mustering her faith, she resumed her journey--in the face of an ever-increasing head wind. She rode, hard, into that wind, becoming more disillusioned and bitter with each kilometer, for it seemed apparent that God, if after all there was really such a Being, had neither heard nor answered her heartfelt pleas. Arriving at last at the hill above her village, a bitter Sister Olsen dismounted before coasting down the hill toward her home. Looking to the lowering heavens, she uttered a sardonic, 'Thanks, Lord; now I know.'

"Then it happened, the surprise of the Spirit. Suddenly Ingrid Olsen was filled with an intense, powerful, commanding voice that sounded through her being and thrilled her with the words, 'I did not still the wind; instead, I gave you strength to overcome.' Then stillness, and that was all! But God had changed her life.

"She was stunned by the reality of what she had just experienced. Her whole soul reverberated with the Hosanna Shout, and she stood all amazed at this tangible answer to her prayers. Wondering about the meaning of the words, she glanced at her watch and was surprised to realize that she had made the ninety-minute return trip, in the face of the heaviest wind she had ever encountered, in less than sixty minutes. She knew immediately the truth of the words of the Holy Spirit--he had not stilled the wind; he had instead given her strength to overcome. She knew, as well, that this revelation described his pattern in dealing with all of his mortal children, and it becomes a revelation to all of us who listen with spiritually attuned ears: God will not diminish the adversity or the obstacles of our lives--there must need be such; that is the nature of our probation. However, he will be with us 'always, even unto the end of the world' to guide and direct and give succor, through his minister, the Holy Spirit (see Matthew 28:20).

"... Moved by this striking manifestation of God in her life, Ingrid Olsen rode immediately to the office of her branch president and related all that had occurred. Sensing his role as an instrument in effecting God's will, the president responded by making arrangements and securing financial assistance for her and her boy to journey to Rexburg, Idaho, where Ingrid would attend Ricks College. Strengthened by the Lord, as he had promised, she came to the United States, overcame all obstacles, and triumphed. Finding early in her schooling here a latent artistic talent, she transferred to BYU and became a sculptor, learning the craft right here in this building (HFAC). Eventually completing advanced training at BYU, she returned to Sweden, established a studio, became an accomplished and successful sculptor--even fulfilling commissions for the king of Sweden. She later married a Mormon widower and former bishop and is now a grandmother and a renowned artist and faithful Latter-day Saint in her native land. That little boy is now a returned missionary, a BYU graduate, and a father. (You'll be interested in a footnote: One of her early pieces of sculpting, now gracing the home of two BYU faculty members, is a polished metal abstract sculpted to portray stones shaped by eons of wind blasting and polishing their raw surface. The name of the sculpture is 'Opposition II.' 'Opposition I' is, of course, Ingrid's own adamant self, which the Lord shaped by adversity into what will become her finest work of art.)"