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Lessons from the Liahona

It was little and amazing; someone in the ward had made it from a Styrofoam ball and gold spray-paint. Fake jewels decorated it, shiny stones made from deep blues and rich reds. I turned it over and over in my hands, wondering what the real Liahona had been like. Did Nephi, Sam, and Lehi gaze into it as they drifted aboard Nephi’s boat?

The lesson in Sharing Time that day was all about the Liahona, and the adventures Lehi’s family had crossing the sea guided by the little ball of curious workmanship. Reluctantly I passed the home made model to the child sitting next to me. But I watched it as it made its way around to the rest of the Primary. I wanted it back. I wondered how true to life it was.

I never wondered about the story, whether or not it was the truth. I adored the stories from the Book of Mormon. I even had a special edition Book of Mormon that looked like the golden plates on the cover. Reading the description of the ball in 1 Nephi 16, I would imagine a jeweled ball very much like the model I held in Primary, though I never could picture the spindles in my head.

I tried to imagine how the needles on the Liahona would move. Would they shift suddenly, indicating a change in direction to the weary travelers? Did the jewels light up, a signal to Lehi and his family that their efforts were indeed good enough to be lead by the compass? What about when Laman and Lemuel acted up; did the ball simply remain still or did the needles spin out of control, like an airplane propeller?

Most of the Primary teachers would draw the lesson back to the responsibility of the individual to keep themselves humble, righteous and contrite before God in order to be worthy of the direction of the Spirit. Just like the Liahona, the Holy Ghost would guide those who were worthy. Those who made bad choices, however, would be left in the dark with no direction.

I worried often about keeping pure and clean, worthy enough to remain in good graces with the Spirit. Feeling the Liahona, or at least its likeness, in my hands really brought that home to me. Surely the Spirit was like this rare treasure, elusive and transient. How bad did I have to be before I would lose it?

I stared often into the clouds as I moved higher and higher on the playground swings. I tried to be quiet, tried to listen. Did I hear the Still, Small Voice? Was it there, or had I done something to chase it away?

Secretly I wanted God to send me my own little Liahona, something that could indicate without a doubt if I was in the Spirit, or out. Clear directions would be wonderful, I thought. Thinking of all of the possible wrong choices was beyond overwhelming.

These days, I can imagine the Primary leaders comparing the Liahona to a GPS system in a car. Directions are clear and concise, but only those who make the correct choices can turn the power on. But I cannot help but think about it all a little differently now.

God, Heavenly Father, was and always has been represented to me like a loving parent, a caring and patient father who loves his children without condition or requirement. This was the epitome of love, the example I should follow and emulate.

Only now, as a parent, I can’t help question the idea of making guidance and direction conditional on obedience. If I sent my children far away from home on a trip without me anywhere nearby, the last thing I would ever want to do is make it tough for them to find their way back home, back to safety, back to me.

I would instead equip them with everything possible for the journey. If I sent along a GPS system, I would hope that it would work whenever they needed it. Placing conditions on the help the GPS could provide them seems almost cruel.

As a child I staying in touch with Heaven rested heavily on my shoulders. I wanted nothing more than to keep worthy of my Father’s loving guidance and direction.

I imagined the stormy sea, especially in the dark of night. Without the guidance of the Liahona, fear would have been almost suffocating. How could I hope to make it through one day of my own life without the Spirit?

As an adult, it unsettles me to think of turning my back on my children. Why would I turn away from my children, especially when they needed me the most?


cindy said...

My initial thought would be, He never turns his back or turns off the gps, WE DO. It's our choice whether to listen to the gps or 'think we know a better way'. I just read another blog and she like the word 'recalculating'. If we make mistakes or a wrong turn (and we all do and will) no need to freak out or get upset, just think 'recalculating' and do what we can to stay on course.

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