Adapted from an October 2000 general conference address.There are all sorts of paths out there. Are you on the right one?
Getting Where You Want to Go23945_000_002
Recently Sister Nelson and I were in Denmark during the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Church in Scandinavia. Between meetings, we took a few hours to search for villages where two of my father’s grandparents were born. They were among the early converts to the Church in Denmark.
Thanks to a good driver and a superb map, we found each town on our list and obtained treasured information. During the entire journey, my hands were riveted to that valuable map so essential to achieve our goals.
In contrast, many people travel through life without good guidance, lacking knowledge of a desired destination or how to get there. But if rapt attention is paid to a road map for a day’s journey, isn’t it also wise to pay attention to authoritative guidance on our journey through life?
Why we need guidance
The ultimate objective in our mortal journey has been revealed by our Creator, who said, “If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7).
His gift of eternal life is subject to conditions established by Him (see D&C 130:21). Those conditions constitute a plan, or a spiritual road map. And when trouble comes, guidance is needed most. In our journey in Denmark, we met an unexpected detour that led us astray. In order to get back on course, we stopped the car. We studied the map with great care. Then we made the necessary course correction.
What if you are lost and have no map? Suppose you are alone. You do not know where you are. What can you do? You call for help. You call home. Call the Church. Pray. When connected with your help line, you learn that you need to make a climb here or a turn there to get back on course. Or you may have to go back to the beginning in order to be certain that you can get where you want to go.
Where we obtain guidance
We turn to Him who knows us best—our Creator. He allowed us to come to earth with freedom to choose our own course. In His great love, He did not leave us alone. He provided a guide—a spiritual road map—to help us achieve success in our journey. We call that guide the standard works, so named because they—the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price—constitute the standard by which we should live. They serve as a standard of reference, as are standards of time, weights, and measures that are kept in national bureaus of standards.
To reach our objective of eternal life, we need to follow teachings in the standard works and other revelations received from prophets of God (see D&C 1:38). Our loving Lord foresaw our need for guidance: “For strait is the gate,” He said, “and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it” (D&C 132:22).
Few find the way because they ignore the divine road map provided by the Lord. An even more serious mistake is to ignore the Maker of the map. God declared in the first of His Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3). Yet carnal man tends to let his loyalty drift toward idols.
We marvel at computers and the Internet that enable transmission of data with remarkable speed. We are truly grateful for these electronic servants. But if we let them take over our time, pervert our potential, or poison our minds with pornography, they cease being servants and become instead false gods.
False gods can only lead to dead ends. We need to follow divine direction. The Lord said, “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not” (D&C 6:36). And the Psalmist wrote, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105).
Following such counsel demands not only conviction but conversion and often repentance. That would please the Lord, who said, “Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn … from all your abominations” (Ezek. 14:6).
In your journey through life, you meet many obstacles and make some mistakes. Scriptural guidance helps you recognize error and make the necessary correction. You stop going in the wrong direction. You carefully study the scriptural road map. Then you proceed with repentance and restitution required to get on the “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life” (2 Ne. 31:18).
Our busy lives force us to focus on things we do from day to day. But the development of character comes only as we focus on who we really are. To establish and accomplish those greater goals, we do need heavenly help.
How we can achieve scriptural guidance
How can we truly live, not “by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God”? (Matt. 4:4).
We begin with a determination to “liken all scriptures unto us, … for our profit and learning” (1 Ne. 19:23). If we “press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, … [we] shall have eternal life” (2 Ne. 31:20).
To feast means more than to taste. To feast means to savor. We savor the scriptures by studying them in a spirit of delightful discovery and faithful obedience. When we feast upon the words of Christ, they are embedded “in fleshy tables of the heart” (2 Cor. 3:3). They become an integral part of our nature.
As you ponder and pray about doctrinal principles, the Holy Ghost will speak to your mind and your heart (see D&C 8:2). From events portrayed in the scriptures, new insights will come and principles relevant to your situation will distill upon your heart.
You cultivate such revelatory experiences by living according to the light already given you and by searching the scriptures with pure motives. As you do so, your confidence will “wax strong in the presence of God,” and the Holy Ghost will be your constant companion (see D&C 121:45–46).
We all need guidance through life. We obtain it best from the standard works and teachings of the prophets of God. With diligent effort, we can achieve that guidance and thus qualify for all of the blessings that God has in store for His faithful children.