Our Journey into the Wilderness | Susan Sessions Rugh


TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL WHERE WE WILL
HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY OF HEARING FROM SUSAN RUGH, AN ASSOCIATE
DEAN IN THE COLLEGE OF FAMILY, SHE RECEIVED HER UNDERGRADUATE
DEGREE FROM BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY AND EARNED A PH.D. IN
AMERICAN HISTORY FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO. PROFESSOR RUGH HAS TAUGHT AT BYU
SINCE 1997 AND CURRENTLY SERVES AS AN ASSOCIATE DEAN IN THE
COLLEGE OF FAMILY, HOME, AND SOCIAL SCIENCES. PROFESSOR RUGH SPECIALIZES IN
THE HISTORY OF TRAVEL AND TOURISM AND IN THE HISTORY OF
RURAL AMERICA. SHE HAS RECENTLY PUBLISHED TWO
BOOKS: “ARE WE THERE YET? THE GOLDEN AGE OF AMERICAN FAMILY
VACATIONS” AND “FAMILY VACATION,” AN ILLUSTRATED,
NOSTALGIC LOOK BACK AT FAMILY VACATIONS. SISTER RUGH IS A NATIVE OF UTAH
AND IS MARRIED TO THOMAS F. RUGH. THEY ARE THE PARENTS OF THREE
SONSDEGREE IN HISTORY AT THE EN THIS SEMESTER. NOW WE WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY
TO HEAR FROM SISTER SUSAN RUGH.>>THANK YOU, PRESIDENT. I AM GRATEFUL FOR THE
OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK TO THE BYU COMMUNITY. I’M GRATEFUL FOR MY FAMILY AND
STUDENTS WHO HAVE SUPPORTED ME IN THIS EFFORT. I HAVE BEEN PART OF THE
COMMUNITY MUCH OF MY LIFE, FROM THE TIME MY FATHER TAUGHT HERE
WHILE I WAS GROWING UP, TO WHEN I WAS A STUDENT HERE IN THE
1970S, TO MY RETURN AS A PROFESSOR A DOZEN YEARS AGO. IT HAS BEEN A GREAT PRIVILEGE
FOR ME TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH BYU AND THE FINE PEOPLE WHO ARE
COMMITTED TO LEARNING IN THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL, A MESHING
OF THE SPIRIT AND THE INTELLECT. AS I LOOK BACK TO MY COLLEGE
YEARS, A LONG TIME AGO, I REALIZE THAT MY BYU EDUCATION
NOT ONLY PREPARED ME TO BECOME A SCHOLAR AND CITIZEN, WIFE AND
MOTHER, BUT ALSO A SAINT. MY HOPE IS THAT MY WORDS TODAY
WILL ESPECIALLY HELP YOU STUDENTS IN YOUR SPIRITUAL
TRAINING THAT IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE EDUCATIONAL
ENTERPRISE AT THIS UNIVERSITY. TODAY I WILL TALK ABOUT THE
CROSSROADS OF MY SCHOLARLY AND SPIRITUAL LIFE BY PONDERING THE
IDEA OF LIFE JOURNEYS. AS THE PRESIDENT SAID,
I STUDY THE HISTORY OF TRAVEL AND TOURISM, AND IN MY MOST
RECENT BOOK, I WROTE ABOUT THE HISTORY OF FAMILY VACATIONING IN
POST-WORLD WAR II AMERICA. STUDYING TRAVEL AND TOURISM
PROVIDES A LENS THROUGH WHICH TO VIEW THE CURRENTS OF CHANGE, AND
ALLOWS ME TO BETTER SEE HOW THOSE CHANGES CAME ABOUT, AND
WHAT THEY MEAN TO US TODAY. IN PREPARING THIS TALK, I
REALIZED THAT THE SCRIPTURES ARE REPLETE WITH STORIES OF TRAVEL,
DEFINED AS MOVING THROUGH SPACE OVER TIME IN A DEPARTURE FROM
DAILY ROUTINE. SOME SCRIPTURAL JOURNEYS BEGIN
ASK RATHER EVERYDAY, PEDESTRIAN TRI
TRIPS, BUT BECOME MOMENTOUS THROUGH MIRACLES,
MY FIRST THOUGHT WAS PAUL’S TRIP TO DAMASCUS WHEN HE LOST HIS
SIGHT AND BECAME CONVERTED TO CHRISTIANITY AS RETOLD IN ACTS
22. OTHER JOURNEYS, LIKE THE FLIGHT
OF MARY AND JOSEPH WITH THE INFANT JESUS ARE UNDERTAKEN TO
ESCAPE ENEMIES. PERHAPS THE GREATEST JOURNEYS
ARE THE MIGRATION OF AN ENTIRE PEOPLE, SUCH AS THE PIONEER TREK
OF OUR ANCESTORS FROM ILLINOIS TO BUILD ZION HERE IN THE WEST,
SHOWN HERE IN A PAINTING BY UTAH PAINTER C. C. A. CHRISTENSEN. I’M GRATEFUL TO THE MUSEUM OF
ART FOR PERMISSION TO SHOW THESE IMAGES TODAY. BY STUDYING THESE JOURNEYS WE
CAN GAIN NEW INSIGHTS INTO OUR LIFE JOURNEY, FROM THE
PRE-MORTAL EXISTENCE TO OUR BIRTH, OUR MATURATION INTO
ADULTS AND OUR EVENT WUAL RETUR TO OUR FATHER IN HEAVEN AFTER WE
DIE AND ARE REDEEMED BY THE SACRIFICE OF OUR SAVIOR. TODAY I WANT TO FOCUS ON A
PARTICULAR KIND OF TRAVEL EXPERIENCE THAT WE READ ABOUT IN
THE SCRIPTURES: A JOURNEY INTO THE WILDERNESS. WHILE NOT ALL OF YOU WILL HAVE
TRAVELED IN AN AREA UNINHABITED BY HUMANS, THE DEFINITION OF
WILDERNESS, ALL OF US TRAVEL INTO AN UNKNOWN FUTURE, A
FIGURATIVE WILDERNESS. BY CONSIDERING OUR JOURNEYS INTO
THE WILDERNESS, WHETHER LITERAL SUCH AS THOSE OF YOU WHO GO ON
WEEKEND CAMPING TRIPS, OR FIGURATIVE, OUR FUTURE, TODAY I
WILL DRAW UPON SCRIPTURE AND MY OWN EXPERIENCES TO DISCUSS HOW
WE CAN PREPARE NOW TO FIND OUR WAY THROUGH THE UNKNOWN
TERRITORY THROUGH WHICH WE WILL TRAVEL IN OUR LIVES. I BELIEVE BY SO DOING WE CAN
DERIVE GREATER MEANING FROM OUR OWN JOURNEYS INTO THE
WILDERNESS. LET’S BEGIN BY DIVIDING OUR
TOPIC INTO THREE STAGES OF TRAVEL: FIRST, WE PREPARE FOR
THE JOURNEY AHEAD; SECOND, WE UNDERGO THE JOURNEY INTO THE
WILDERNESS; AND THIRD, WE REFLECT BACK ON OUR JOURNEY TO
MAKE MEANING OUT OF OUR EXPERIENCE. STAGE ONE, PREPARING FOR THE
JOURNEY. BY NOW ALL YOU FRESHMEN TAKING
RELIGION 121 ARE WELL-VERSED IN THE PARTICULARS OF LEHI’S
JOURNEY THAT OPENS THE BOOK OF MORMON. IF WE READ CAREFULLY FROM FIRST
NEPHI CHAPTER 2, WE GATHER THAT PREPARATIONS WERE BRIEF:
2. AND IT CAME TO PASS THAT THE LORD COMMANDED MY FATHER, EVEN
IN A DREAM, THAT HE SHOULD TAKE HIS FAMILY AND DEPART INTO THE
WILDERNESS. 3. AND IT CAME TO PASS THAT HE
WAS OBEDIENT UNTO THE WORD OF THE LORD, WHEREFORE HE DID AS
THE LORD COMMANDED HIM. AND IT CAME TO PASS THAT HE
DEPARTED INTO THE WILDERNESS. AND HE LEFT HIS HOUSE, AND THE
LAND OF HIS INHERITANCE, AND HIS GOLD, AND HIS SILVER, AND HIS
PRECIOUS THINGS, AND TOOK NOTHING WITH HIM, SAVE IT WERE
HIS FAMILY, AND PROVISIONS, AND TENTS, AND DEPARTED INTO THE
WILDERNESS. FROM THESE VERSES WE UNDERSTAND
THAT THE LORD COMMANDED LEHI TO TAKE HIS FAMILY AND JOURNEY INTO
THE WILDERNESS, THAT HE WAS OBEDIENT, AND THAT THE WHOLE
FAMILY — HIS WIFE SARIAH AND THEIR FOUR SONS, LAMAN, LEMUEL,
NEPHI, AND SAM — WENT TOGETHER INTO THE WILDERNESS. WE KNOW VERY LITTLE ABOUT LEHI’S
PREPARATIONS, BUT WE CAN MAKE SOME ASSUMPTIONS. WE CAN ASSUME HE SOLD OR GAVE
AWAY HIS HOUSE, THE LAND HE HAD INHERITED, HIS SILVER AND GOLD
AND ALL HIS “PRECIOUS THINGS.” LEHI AND SARIAH LEFT EVERYTHING,
AND TOOK ONLY TENTS AND PROVISIONS, PROBABLY FOOD,
COOKING UTENSILS, TOOLS, AND MAYBE SEEDS. IN FACT, SO TOTAL WAS LEHI’S
COMMITMENT TO LEAVE IT ALL BEHIND THAT THE LORD LATER
COMMANDED HIM TO RETURN FOR THE PLATES OF LABAN. AND I DON’T KNOW HOW HE GOT
AHOLD OF THE GOLD HE HAD GIVEN AWAY TO GET THOSE PLATES, BUT
SOMEHOW HE DID, HIS SONS DID. LET ME SWITCH GEARS AND
JUXTAPOSE THIS SCRIPTURAL STORY WITH AN ACCOUNT OF MY OWN
JOURNEYS INTO THE WILDERNESS. FOR THE PAST 15 YEARS I HAVE
MADE A SUMMER TRIP TO THE BOUNDARY WATERS CANOE AREA
WILDERNESS IN NORTHERN MINNESOTA ON THE BORDER WITH CANADA. WE TRAVEL THROUGH THE WILDERNESS
IN CANOES, AND WHEN WE TRAVEL FROM ONE LAKE TO ANOTHER WE
PORTAGE OUR CANOES AND BELONGINGS OVER LAND. AN AVERAGE DAY INCLUDES FIVE TO
SEVEN SUCH PORTAGES, WHICH FOLLOW TRAILS CREATED BY FRENCH
VOYAGEURS WHO BROUGHT IN FURS TO SELL AT MILITARY FORTS IN THE
18TH CENTURY. FOR PART OF OUR JOURNEY WE ARE
QUITE ALONE, AND ON RUGGED ROUTES DEEP IN THE WILDERNESS WE
CAN TRAVEL ALL DAY WITHOUT SEEING ANOTHER PERSON. EACH LAKE IS INHABITED BY A PAIR
OF LOONS, AND THE BIRDS’ DANCES ACROSS THE WATER AT SUNSET ARE A
TREASURED SIGHT. WE OCCASIONALLY SEE DANGEROUS
WILD ANIMALS — BLACK BEARS AND MOOSE — BUT THE WORST
WILDERNESS THREAT IN MINNESOTA, AS YOU ALL KNOW, IS THE
MOSQUITO. I CAN SEE SOME OF YOU ARE
FAMILIAR WITH THE MOSQUITOS IN MINNESOTA. TO PREPARE FOR THIS TRIP TAKES
TIME AND EFFORT. EACH YEAR I PLAN MY TRIP IN
JANUARY, BUY A PERMIT THROUGH AN OUTFITTER, AND GATHER SOME
GIRLFRIENDS AND UNSUSPECTING FEMALE RELATIVES, LIKE MY LOYAL
DAUGHTER-IN-LAW, TO GO WITH ME INTO THE WILDERNESS. THE NEXT SIX MONTHS I WORK TO
STAY IN GOOD SHAPE, LOSING THOSE CHRISTMAS POUNDS OF CHOCOLATE,
SO I WILL BE ABLE TO CARRY THE 60-POUND CANOE MYSELF ON THE
PORTAGES. IT’S IMPORTANT TO PULL MY WEIGHT
AND DO MY FAIR SHARE OF THE HARD WORK. I STUDY THE MAP AND GET USED TO
MY HIKING BOOTS AND PACK MY PERSONAL GEAR: A CHANGE OF
CLOTHING, RAIN GEAR, SWIMSUIT AND TOWEL, READING MATERIAL AND
STRONG, 100% DEET, MOSQUITO REPELLENT. OUR OUTFITTER SUPPLIES US WITH
CANOES, CAMPING GEAR, TENTS AND COOKING EQUIPMENT, AND
DEHYDRATED FOOD. LIKE LEHI, WE KNOW THAT SINCE WE
WILL CARRY EVERYTHING OURSELVES, WE WANT TO PACK LIGHT, BUT WE
MUST ALSO BE PREPARED TO TRAVEL ALONE IN THE WILDERNESS. STAGE TWO, THE JOURNEY. LET’S RETURN TO THE BOOK OF
MORMON TO LEARN ABOUT THE JOURNEY OF LEHI’S FAMILY IN THE
WILDERNESS. WHEN THEY LEAVE THEIR CAMP BY
THE BORDERS OF THE RED SEA TO MOVE INTO THE UNKNOWN THEY ARE
GIVEN A NAVIGATIONAL TOOL. WE READ IN 1 NEPHI CHAPTER 16:
AND IT CAME TO PASS THAT THE VOICE OF THE LORD SPAKE UNTO MY
FATHER BY NIGHT, AND COMMANDED HIM THAT ON THE MORROW HE SHOULD
TAKE HIS JOURNEY INTO THE WILDERNESS. AND IT CAME TO PASS THAT AS MY
FATHER AROSE IN THE MORNING, AND WENT FORTH TO THE TENT DOOR, TO
HIS GREAT ASTONISHMENT HE BEHELD UPON THE GROUND A ROUND BALL OF
CURIOUS WORKMANSHIP; AND IT WAS OF FINE BRASS. AND WITHIN THE BALL WERE TWO
SPINDLES; AND THE ONE POINTED THE WAY WHITHER WE SHOULD GO
INTO THE WILDERNESS. AND IT CAME TO PASS THAT WE DID
TAKE OUR TENTS AND DEPART INTO THE WILDERNESS, ACROSS THE RIVER
LAMAN. THE “ROUND BALL OF CURIOUS
WORKMANSHIP” LED THEM ALONG THE BEST ROUTE, WHERE THEY HUNTED
WILD BEASTS, AND THROUGH FERTILE AREAS THAT PROVIDED PLANT FOOD. NEPHI OBSERVES THAT THE POINTERS
IN THE BALL “DID WORK ACCORDING TO THE FAITH AND DILIGENCE AND
HEED WHICH WE DID GIVE UNTO THEM.” WE DO NOT REALLY KNOW THE SIZE
OF THE BALL, ALTHOUGH THIS PAINTER HAS AN IDEA, BUT WE CAN
SURMISE THAT IT WAS RELATIVELY SMALL SINCE NEPHI WRITES:
AND THUS WE SEE THAT BY SMALL MEANS THE LORD CAN BRING ABOUT
GREAT THINGS. LIKE A COMPASS, IF THEY DID NOT
HEED IT WITH FAITH AND DILIGENCE, IT WOULD NOT WORK FOR
THEM. AS IN ANY JOURNEY, THINGS GO
WRONG. NEPHI’S STEEL BOW BREAKS AND HIS
OLDER BROTHERS BECOME ANGRY WITH HIM, AND EVERYONE IS TIRED AND
HUNGRY AND BEGINS “MURMURING.” ONLY THEN DO THE TRAVELERS BEGIN
TO FULLY APPRECIATE HOW THE “ROUND BALL OF CURIOUS
WORKMANSHIP” GUIDES THEM. AT FIRST THEY HAD THOUGHT THE
BALL WAS MAINLY LIKE A COMPASS, BUT IT TURNED OUT TO BE MUCH
MORE THAN THAT. AND I READ AGAIN FROM THE
SCRIPTURES. AND THERE WAS ALSO WRITTEN UPON
THEM THE POINTERS A NEW WRITING, WHICH WAS PLAIN TO BE READ,
WHICH DID GIVE US UNDERSTANDING CONCERNING THE WAYS OF THE LORD;
AND IT WAS WRITTEN AND CHANGED FROM TIME TO TIME, ACCORDING TO
THE FAITH AND DILIGENCE WHICH WE GAVE UNTO IT. WHEN THEY PAID CLOSE ATTENTION
TO IT, THEY COULD SEE WRITING THAT HELPED THEM UNDERSTAND THE
WAYS OF THE LORD. THE WRITING CHANGED ACCORDING TO
THE DEGREE OF ATTENTION THEY GAVE IT, AND ACCORDING TO THE
CIRCUMSTANCES THEY FACED. THUS THE “ROUND BALL OF CURIOUS
WORKMANSHIP” GAVE THEM DIRECTION NOT ONLY IN THE WAY THEY SHOULD
TRAVEL, BUT HOW THEY SHOULD LIVE. BY PROVIDING THE “ROUND BALL OF
CURIOUS WORKMANSHIP,” THE LORD WAS ABLE TO GUIDE THEM THROUGH
THE WILDERNESS, BUT ONLY TO THE DEGREE THEY TOOK HEED OF THE
BALL’S INSTRUCTIONS. I CAN FIND PARALLELS TO THEIR
EXPERIENCES IN MY OWN JOURNEYS INTO THE WILDERNESS. LIKE LEHI’S FAMILY, WE GO
WITHOUT A GUIDE. WE DO HAVE A MAP AND A COMPASS,
BUT LIKE THE “ROUND BALL” THEY ARE USELESS UNLESS WE ACTUALLY
PAY ATTENTION TO THEM. NOW YOU MIGHT ASK YOURSELVES,
HOW COULD WE NOT PAY ATTENTION? IF YOU PUT TWO GOOD FRIENDS IN A
CANOE, THEY GET TO TALKING, OR BECOME SO ABSORBED IN THE LOVELY
SCENERY, AND BEHOLD, IT CAME TO PASS, WE MIGHT SAY, THEY CAN BE
SOMEPLACE AND NOT KNOW WHERE THEY ARE. NOT KNOWING WHERE YOU ARE,
OBVIOUSLY, IS THE DEFINITION OF BEING LOST. I HAVE HAD MORE EXPERIENCES OF
BEING LOST IN THE WILDERNESS THAN I CARE TO ADMIT, BUT LET ME
TELL YOU ABOUT THE MOST RECENT ONE. A FEW YEARS AGO OUR GROUP OF SIX
TOOK A TRIP UP THE MAGNETIC RIVER TO THE SAGANAGA LAKE. THIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE
ROUTES, AND ALTHOUGH IT WAS THE THIRD TIME FOR ME, IT WAS THE
FIRST TIME FOR THE OTHERS. WE WERE ON OUR FINAL DAY OF THE
TRIP, AND WE WERE RUNNING A BIT BEHIND. OUR STOVE HAD CAUGHT ON FIRE IN
THE MORNING — THE FUEL HOSE WAS NOT PLACED PROPERLY WHEN WE
COOKED OUR PANCAKES, SO BREAKFAST WAS DELAYED, AND WE
HAD ENCOUNTERED A FEW ROUGH PORTAGES AT MIDDAY. SO WE ARRIVED ON THE LAKE LATE
IN THE AFTERNOON. THOSE OF YOU WHO ARE SAILORS
WILL KNOW THAT LATE AFTERNOON IS WHEN THE WINDS COME UP, AND WE
WERE PADDLING WESTWARD DIRECTLY INTO THE WIND. IT WAS A TOUGH PADDLE, AND WITH
THE WIND IN OUR FACES AT TIMES IT FELT LIKE WE WERE PADDLING IN
PEANUT BUTTER. TWO VERY STRONG PADDLERS MANNED
ONE OF OUR FOUR CANOES, AND AS THEY GOT OUT AHEAD OF US I
NOTICED THAT THEY MISSED THE TURN. NOW, THIS IS AN EASY MISTAKE
BECAUSE AS WE LOOKED WEST, THERE WERE MANY ISLANDS. IF THEY HAD READ THE MAP MORE
CLOSELY OR HAD USED THEIR COMPASS, THEY WOULD HAVE KNOWN
WHERE TO GO, BUT FOR SOME REASON THEY LOST TRACK OF WHERE THEY
WERE. YELLING INTO THE WIND AT THEM
WOULD HAVE BEEN FUTILE, AND THEY DID NOT LOOK BACK TO SEE SIGNALS
WE WERE GIVING THEM WITH OUR PADDLES. IN CASE YOU DO NOT KNOW, CELL
PHONES DO NOT WORK IN THE WILDERNESS. AT THAT MOMENT I WAS FACED WITH
A DILEMMA: SHOULD I TAKE THE OTHER THREE CANOES THE RIGHT
DIRECTION, OR SHOULD WE FOLLOW OUR FIRST CANOE OFF COURSE? WHAT WOULD YOU DO? BECAUSE THEIR PHYSICAL SAFETY
WAS MY FIRST CONCERN, I REASONED IT WAS BETTER TO BE OFF COURSE
TOGETHER THAN APART IN THE RIGHT PLACE. WE FOLLOWED THEM FOR ANOTHER
HALF HOUR BEFORE THEY REALIZED THEY WERE LOST AND PULLED OVER
TO WAIT FOR US. WE ALL PULLED UP, GLAD TO HAVE A
LITTLE REST ON THE ISLAND’S MOSSY BANK AFTER AN AFTERNOON OF
PADDLING INTO THE WIND. WE GATHERED AROUND A MAP, BUT
ONLY AFTER WE ALIGNED OUR INTENDED ROUTE ON THE MAP WITH
THE COMPASS I CARRIED, WERE WE ABLE TO HEAD OFF IN THE PROPER
DIRECTION. BUT THE STORY ORES NOT END HERE. BECAUSE WE WERE WANDERING IN THE
WILDERNESS FOR AN EXTRA THREE HOURS, LIKE THE SONG WE SANG
TODAY, WANDERSING ING IN THE WILDERNESS, THE CAMP SIDE WE HAD
SELECTED WAS ALREADY TAKEN. IT WAS AFTER 7:00 AND THE SUN
WAS SINKING IN THE SKY WHEN WE FINALLY FOUND A LESS PREFERABLE
SITE THAT WAS STILL VACANT. EXHAUSTED, WE DISEMBARKED,
UNLOADED OUR GEAR, AND SOME SET UP TENTS WHILE THE OTHERS COOKED
DINNER OVER AN OPEN FIRE. IT WAS 8:00 WHEN WE FINALLY ATE
OUR DINNER. THAT NIGHT AS WE LAY IN OUR
SLEEPING BAGS LISTENING TO THE LULLABY OF THE LOONS, WE WERE
GLAD TO BE SAFE AND SOUND DESPITE OUR MISADVENTURE. IT WAS A HARD LESSON, BUT WE
LEARNED THE LESSON LEHI’S FAMILY LEARNED. THINGS WILL GO WRONG, BUT IF YOU
PAY ATTENTION TO WHERE YOU ARE GOING, USE THE COMPASS, AND STAY
TOGETHER, YOU WILL COMPLETE THE JOURNEY. STAGE THREE, MAKING MEANING OF
OUR JOURNEY. LIKE NEPHI, I TELL YOU ABOUT MY
JOURNEY SOME TIME AFTER THIS HAPPENED. AS HISTORIANS WE KNOW THAT
MEMORIES ARE IMPERFECT, AND THAT NO TWO PERSONS REMEMBER THE SAME
THING OR THE SAME EVENT THE SAME WAY. WHAT WE CHOOSE TO REMEMBER CAN
BE MORE INTERESTING THAN KNOWING “WHAT REALLY HAPPENED.” LET’S TURN TO ALMA TO UNDERSTAND
HOW LEHI’S DESCENDANTS MADE MEANING OF THE GREAT JOURNEY TO
THE PROMISED LAND. FIRST, TAKE NOTE THAT THE “ROUND
BALL OF CURIOUS WORKMANSHIP” DOES NOT HAVE A NAME UNTIL ALMA
EXPLAINED IT TO HIS SON HELAMAN OVER 500 YEARS LATER. IN ALMA’S DAY, LEHI’S
DESCENDANTS WERE MAKING MEANING OF THE JOURNEY. I READ FROM ALMA CHAPTER 37:
AND NOW, MY SON, I HAVE SOMEWHAT TO SAY CONCERNING THE THING
WHICH OUR FATHERS CALL A BALL, OR DIRECTOR — OR OUR FATHERS
CALLED IT LIAHONA, WHICH IS, BEING INTERPRETED, A COMPASS;
AND THE LORD PREPARED IT. AND BEHOLD, IT WAS PREPARED TO
SHOW UNTO OUR FATHERS THE COURSE WHICH THEY SHOULD TRAVEL IN THE
WILDERNESS. AND IT DID WORK FOR THEM
ACCORDING TO THEIR FAITH IN GOD; THEREFORE, IF THEY HAD FAITH TO
BELIEVE THAT GOD COULD CAUSE THAT THOSE SPINDLES SHOULD POINT
THE WAY THEY SHOULD GO, BEHOLD, IT WAS DONE. ALMA EXPLAINED TO HELAMAN THAT
THE LIAHONA SHOWED THEM THE COURSE WHICH THEY SHOULD TRAVEL
IN THE WILDERNESS,” AND IT ONLY WORKED IF THEY HAD ENOUGH FAITH
TO TAKE A LOOK AT IT AND TO FOLLOW IT. FURTHERMORE, AS ALMA TOLD
HELAMAN, WHEN THEY WERE SLOTHFUL, AND FORGOT
TO EXERCISE THEIR FAITH AND DILIGENCE, THEN THOSE MARVELOUS
WORKS CEASED, AND THEY DID NOT PROGRESS IN THEIR JOURNEY;
THEREFORE, THEY TARRIED IN THE WILDERNESS, OR DID NOT TRAVEL A
DIRECT COURSE, AND WERE AFFLICTED WITH HUNGER AND
THIRST, BECAUSE OF THEIR TRANSGRESSIONS. WHAT WAS THEIR TRANSGRESSION? IT WAS NOT EXERCISING FAITH IN
THE LIAHONA, NOT LOOKING AT THE GUIDE THE LORD HAD GIVEN THEM,
AND LOSING THEIR WAY. AS I HAVE MADE MEANING OF MY OWN
JOURNEYS IN MY PHOTO COLLECTIONS AND WRITINGS, I HAVE DERIVED
LESSONS THAT I ONLY UNDERSTAND WITH THE PASSAGE OF TIME. TODAY I REALIZE THAT ALMA’S
WORDS CERTAINLY APPLIED TO US IN OUR WILDERNESS JOURNEY. WE WERE LOST BECAUSE WE WERE
“SLOTHFUL” AND FORGOT TO READ THE MAP. SO WE DID NOT TRAVEL A DIRECT
COURSE AND WE HAD A VERY TOUGH GO OF IT. LUCKILY, WITH THE USE OF A
COMPASS WE WERE ABLE TO GET BACK ON COURSE AND SAFELY MAKE IT TO
OUR DESTINATION. THE EXPERIENCES OF OUR LITERAL
JOURNEYS IN THE WILDERNESS CAN BE APPLIED TO OUR JOURNEY
THROUGH LIFE. ALMA EXPLAINS THIS TO HELAMAN:
43. AND NOW, MY SON, I WOULD THAT YE SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT
THESE THINGS ARE NOT WITHOUT A SHADOW; FOR AS OUR FATHERS WERE
SLOTHFUL TO GIVE HEED TO THIS COMPASS (NOW THESE THINGS WERE
TEMPORAL) THEY DID NOT PROSPER; EVEN SO IT IS WITH THINGS WHICH
ARE SPIRITUAL. AS ALMA REMINDS HELAMAN, IF WE
DO NOT HEED THE DIRECTION OF THE LORD WE WILL NOT PROGRESS IN OUR
JOURNEY OF LIFE. WE CAN EASILY LOSE OUR WAY AND
TAKE UNPLANNED AND COSTLY DETOURS, AND WE MIGHT NOT GET
BACK ON COURSE TO OUR DESTINATION. IN OUR JOURNEY OF LIFE WE DO NOT
HAVE THE LIAHONA, BUT WE DO HAVE THE LORD TO GUIDE US IF WE WILL
PAY HEED. ALMA ASSURES US THAT IT IS EASY
FOR US TO FOLLOW THE LORD: FOR BEHOLD, IT IS AS EASY TO
GIVE HEED TO THE WORD OF CHRIST, WHICH WILL POINT TO YOU A
STRAIGHT COURSE TO ETERNAL BLISS, AS IT WAS FOR OUR FATHERS
TO GIVE HEED TO THIS COMPASS, WHICH WOULD POINT UNTO THEM A
STRAIGHT COURSE TO THE PROMISED LAND. WE CAN FIND THE LORD’S GUIDANCE
BY READING THE SCRIPTURES, LISTENING TO OUR LATTER-DAY
PROPHETS, AND HEEDING THE COUNSEL OF OUR CHURCH LEADERS
AND THOSE WHO LOVE US. IN A RECENT GENERAL CONFERENCE,
PRESIDENT DUADDRESSED THIS. AT TIMES, WE WAY WANDER AWAY
FROM THE GOSPEL AND GOSPEL PRINCIPLES AND WE MAY FOUND
UNWORTHY TO BE FOUND. HE SAID, THOUGH WE ARE
INCOMPLETE, GOD LOVES US COMPLETELY. THOUGH WE ARE IMPERFECT, HE
LOVES US PERFECTLY. THOUGH WE MAY FEEL LOST AND
WITHOUT COMPASS, GOD’S LOVE ENCOMPASSES US COMPLETELY. BY LIVING WORTHILY AND SEEKING
THE GUIDANCE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, WE WILL HAVE A SUCCESSFUL
JOURNEY IN THE UNKNOWN WILDERNESS OF OUR FUTURE. CCCCOUOUOUOUOURSRSRSRSRSE,E,E,E
LAND OF PROMISE. I WILL CLOSE BY REFERRING BACK
TO MY OWN EXPERIENCE. WHEN I RETURN FROM MY JOURNEY IN
THE WILDERNESS EACH YEAR, THE FIRST THING I DO, EVEN BEFORE I
GET CLEANED UP, IS CALL MY HUSBAND ON THE TELEPHONE. I TELL HIM: “I AM BACK. I AM SAFE. I LOVE YOU.” I CAN ONLY IMAGINE IT MUST BE
LIKE THAT WHEN WE RETURN TO OUR HEAVENLY FATHER. AFTER OUR LIFE’S JOURNEY, WE
WILL BE REUNITED WITH HIM AND OUR LOVED ONES AND CAN SAY: “I
AM BACK. I AM SAFE. I LOVE YOU.” IT IS MY HOPE THAT WE WILL GIVE
HEED TO THE WORD OF CHRIST TO CARRY US BEYOND THIS VALE OF
SORROW TO LIVE WITH HIM AGAIN. I SAY THESE THINGS IN THE NAME

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