Tears of frustration filled my eyes, so I couldn’t make sense of the words I had been reading.
“And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward,” read the verses I was studying for seminary. “And they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree” (1 Ne. 8:24).
I was 14 and struggling. I didn’t have many friends. Those I had were beginning to experiment with alcohol, tobacco, pornography, and immoral behavior. The pressure to participate was growing daily. I was struggling to stand up for my beliefs. I was struggling to find friends. I could understand why temptation was called “mists of darkness” (1 Ne. 12:17). I felt blind to the light of the Spirit.
I was trying to do what was right, doing my best to follow “the path which led to the tree” (1 Ne. 8:22). But I could relate to those people “who had commenced in the path” but were lost because of the “mist of darkness.” I felt like I had “wandered off and [was] lost” too (1 Ne. 8:23).
I rarely cried. But that night in my room, as I read those verses, I couldn’t keep the tears from spilling out. I really felt lost, and I wasn’t sure what to do. I wanted a solid metal handrail right there by my bed that I could grab on to and follow back to heaven.
My seminary teacher had said the rod of iron symbolizes the word of God in the scriptures and given through the prophets today. But I couldn’t hold on to a symbol. I shut my scriptures and poured my heart into prayer: “Father, where is my iron rod?”
The question stuck in my head for days. Then one night, like Lehi, I “dreamed a dream” (1 Ne. 8:2).
In my dream I was on my stomach on the seminary classroom floor. Something behind me held my legs so tightly that I couldn’t get free, and it was slowly pulling me backwards. Terror smashed me so I could hardly breathe. I was too scared to look back, but I knew I was being dragged into a darkness that would mean more than death. It meant spiritual destruction.
I looked around desperately for anything I could grab on to. It was then that I saw in front of me the Book of Mormon resting on a chair. Somehow I knew that if I could just make it to the book, I would be safe.
I woke up halfway between safety and destruction. I knew I had to go one way or the other.
Suddenly, I was more interested in the Book of Mormon. But while the dream was my wake-up call to read the Book of Mormon, it was the actual reading that changed my life. The Lord blessed me for being obedient. I found spiritual strength in the face of temptations. I found confidence to break ties with my old friends and reassurance that I was better off by myself until my prayers to find better friends were answered.
Most important, I could feel the Spirit when I read the Book of Mormon. I could feel the love of God. It felt so good I never wanted to put the book down. I had found my iron rod.
Soon after, tears again blurred the words I was reading. But this time they were tears of joy as I read Nephi’s promise to his brothers.
“And they said unto me: What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree?
“And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction” (1 Ne. 15:23–34).