Tuesday, November 13, 2012

You Are Never Lost When You Can See The Temple

A few months ago Alyssa and I drove up to the temple in Bountiful, Utah to be with a dear friend as she went through the temple for the first time. I hadn’t been to the Bountiful Utah temple since it’s dedication 12+ years ago but since the temple is clearly visible from the freeway I figured it wouldn’t be hard to find; just drive towards it.

Even with the temple situated up above the city on the side of the mountains, driving straight to it without directions was a bit easier said than done. We drove on one road until the road didn’t appear to be taking us in the direction we wanted and then turned on to a new road. This strategy worked for a while until the roads began to wind more and the streets became more suburban and covered in dead ends and cul-de-sacs. Tongue in cheek I said as our route became more and more zigzagged, “you’re never lost when you can see the temple, right?”

The dead ends were clearly marked, thus helping us avoid backtracking but once in a while I thought that I knew better and tried some of the roads marked “dead end,” hoping the dead end was the temple parking lot, and was each time disappointed and had to return to the road we knew was safe. We also thought about following other cars that appeared to be headed the same place but in the end, most of the cars were headed down their own paths to their own destinations. There was only one little blue sign in the almost 30 intersections we encountered that said, “LDS Temple ➡.”

As we got closer and the houses got bigger, we began to lose sight of the temple for a few moments at time. Losing a temple that large may seem a bit wondrous, considering the 104,000 square-foot building sits on nine acres, has its own parking garage, and a spire that tops out at 177 feet. But from our perspective the houses and trees that were much closer to us succeeded in blocking our view. During those times, despite the obstructions keeping the temple hidden from our view, we were not lost because we knew the temple was still in the same place behind the distractions. Each time we lost the temple, we continued on in the same direction until we were able to see the end of our goal once again.

Eventually, after many correct turns, a few wrong turns that required correction, and a few turns made on faith when we couldn’t physically see the temple, we did find our destination. And on time too. We met up with our friend and were able to share in her blessed experience of going through the temple for the first time and making the temple covenants vital for salvation.

As I thought of this experience on the way home, I wondered at the parallels between our journey to the temple that day and the journey being made by each of us back to our Father in Heaven in this life. At times our perspective may be clear and we feel that we can get back to our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ, whose gospel shines like a beacon on a hill. There are many twists and turns along the way but we are given the tools we need to aid up in our journey. We may wonder why there are not little blue signs pointing us in the right direction at each intersection, but that is not the way the Lord works. The Lord gives us apostles and prophets, scriptures and the guidance of the Holy Ghost, and loving parents and leaders that help us recognize our goal in the distance and see the clearly marked dead ends and wrong ways. However, we must make our own decisions and cannot simply follow signs or someone else all the way. We are given the tools to help us make correct decisions and we become stronger each time we exercise our faith in making a correct decision.

Sometimes, despite the direction given to us and the knowledge we have gained, we find ourselves in situations where our perspective becomes distorted and our vision is blocked by things that seem more pressing and of bigger import than the things of eternity. We may lose sight of that which is most important and feel lost and confused. In those times, if we trust that the Lord has not moved and take a faith-filled step into the dark, we will once again see His light shine forth at the end of our path.

And during those times when we go against the guidance we are given and find ourselves at a dead end, either because we think we know better or simply because we made a wrong choice in a moment of weakness or frustration, we always have the opportunity to turn around and head back to the path of safety. Admitting our mistakes may be frustrating and returning to the original path will require effort, but if we repent and start again along the path to our eternal goal, we will arrive in time and we will share in all the blessings that our Heavenly Father wishes to bestow upon us.

Just as the Bountiful Utah temple stood as a beacon at the end of our road, the Lord Jesus Christ stands as a beacon and calls to all, “Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.” The way requires many decisions and commitments but the Lord has provided us with all the tools necessary for our success. And should we find ourselves lost on unknown paths, the Atonement of Jesus Christ can bring us back into the light and onto the path back to our Heavenly Father.