Wandering in the desert

Do you ever feel that life is like wandering in a desert.  You have no idea where you are, where you have been, or where you are going?   The only thing you know is that it is hot and you think you have been here before.

After Lehi, his family, and Ishmael’s family left Jerusalem and were traveling in the wilderness, the Lord directed them in their travels with a Liahona.  Nephi describes it as such.

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. [1 Nephi 16:10]

Alma later in the Book of Mormon talks about the Liahona to his son Helaman.

38 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.

39 And behold, there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship. And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness.

40 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; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day. [Alma 37:38-40]

Notice how Alma said that “there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship.”  The Liahona was a gift from God, not something that a man could create.  Alama continues to say that the Liahona is a type for Christ and his words.  Elder W. Rolfe Kerr of the Seventy talks about this in his talk, “The Words of Christ – Our Spiritual Liahona“. 

Elder David A. Bednar in a talk dated, May 2006 titled “That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us” talks just about that subject. 

As we strive to align our attitudes and actions with righteousness, then the Holy Ghost becomes for us today what the Liahona was for Lehi and his family in their day. The very factors that caused the Liahona to work for Lehi will likewise invite the Holy Ghost into our lives. And the very factors that caused the Liahona not to work anciently will likewise cause us to withdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost today.

He then continues:

As we study and ponder the purposes of the Liahona and the principles by which it operated, I testify that we will receive inspiration suited to our individual and family circumstances and needs. We can and will be blessed with ongoing direction from the Holy Ghost.

The Liahona was prepared by the Lord and given to Lehi and his family after they left Jerusalem and were traveling in the wilderness (see Alma 37:38; D&C 17:1). This compass or director pointed the way that Lehi and his caravan should go (see 1 Ne. 16:10), even “a straight course to the promised land” (Alma 37:44). The pointers in the Liahona operated “according to the faith and diligence and heed” (1 Ne. 16:28) of the travelers and failed to work when family members were contentious, rude, slothful, or forgetful (see 1 Ne. 18:12, 21; Alma 37:41, 43).

The compass also provided a means whereby Lehi and his family could obtain greater “understanding concerning the ways of the Lord” (1 Ne. 16:29). Thus, the primary purposes of the Liahona were to provide both direction and instruction during a long and demanding journey. The director was a physical instrument that served as an outward indicator of their inner spiritual standing before God. It worked according to the principles of faith and diligence.

Just as Lehi was blessed in ancient times, each of us in this day has been given a spiritual compass that can direct and instruct us during our mortal journey. The Holy Ghost was conferred upon you and me as we came out of the world and into the Savior’s Church through baptism and confirmation. By the authority of the holy priesthood we were confirmed as members of the Church and admonished to seek for the constant companionship of “the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:17).

As we each press forward along the pathway of life, we receive direction from the Holy Ghost just as Lehi was directed through the Liahona. “For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do” (2 Ne. 32:5).

The Holy Ghost operates in our lives precisely as the Liahona did for Lehi and his family, according to our faith and diligence and heed.

“Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God. …

“The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth” (D&C 121:45–46).

And the Holy Ghost provides for us today the means whereby we can receive, “by small and simple things” (Alma 37:6), increased understanding about the ways of the Lord: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).

When King Benjamin was waxing old, he gave his sone Mosiah several items.  One of those items was the Liahona.  He had this to say about it:

18 ..and the ball or director, which led our fathers through the wilderness, which was prepared by the hand of the Lord that thereby they might be led, every one according to the heed and diligence which they gave unto him.

17 Therefore, as they were unfaithful they did not prosper nor progress in their journey, but were driven back, and incurred the displeasure of God upon them; and therefore they were smitten with famine and sore afflictions, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty. [Mosiah 1:16-17]

After reading this, I was struck with the impression that if I feel like I am wondering through the desert, then I need to get my Liahona working again.   From these talks and scripture references, that means I need to get back to the basics.  If I concentrate on Faith, Prayer, and Scripture Study, then the Lord will help me with my personal Liahona to be led out of the desert or wilderness.  The Liahona of today is the Holy Ghost, and as we do things that interfere with its workings.  And by interfering with its workings, we incur the displeasure of God, and are smitten with sore afflictions until we are stirred up to remembrance of our duty.

I was then thinking of how to illustrate this to my children.  How do I show them that when we are not allowing the Holy Ghost into our lives, we become lost, and don’t know where the path out of the desert is.  The thought then came to me to use a compass.  If you put a strong magnetic field by the compass, you can then make it point in the wrong direction, it won’t port North.  Fighting, and the things of the world are like the magnetic field, they will interfere with the compass, and we will not know what the Lord wants us to do.
We as parents need to be diligent in not allowing magnets to enter our homes that will interfere with our personal Liahona.  If we do, we can find ourselves wandering through the desert or wilderness with no direction.  Or we can find that what we thought was North was being changed by a magnetic field.