My companion, Sister Christensen (who has been in this area for 6 weeks now) and I have had some interesting experiences with our GPS since being in Rochester. First of all, Rochester is very difficult to navigate for one so new (me) and also the two of us who grew up on the (in my opinion) inspired grid system of Utah.
About one week into the transfer (a six-week period), Sister Christensen’s GPS told us to turn right out of the church parking lot. She kind of stopped, thought that might not be right, but turned right anyway trusting that her–then no named–device knew the streets better than she did. About a block down, it directed us to turn right again into what looked like a small neighborhood. Confused, but thinking there may be an outlet on the other side, we proceeded to go in a large circle before ending up where we had entered. We couldn’t help but laugh that Barclay (named after this loop of homes) was now prompting us to turn left; the direction we should have turned in the first place out of the church. We figured we needed to finish off his name, so: Barclay Thomas Archibald. Pretty good, eh?
After that experience, my wonderful companion made a goal to try to navigate us independent of technology, based on experience and landmarks, and logic–as well as intuition. Since then, we’ve had some good experiences and some not so good experiences, sometimes resulting in being a few minutes behind… Nevertheless, we always feel a great relief when we make it to where we need or want to be. I’ve just felt that before sitting to write this. On our way here, we got a little turned around. When Sister Christensen reached for the GPS, I leaned more firmly on the center console where Barclay awaited the spotlight and without looking over, said, “You can do it.” With a little frustration, she continued driving. I could hear the gears turning in her head; her eyes darted between street signs. My thoughts were turned to the countless lessons I could learn from this, and before I knew it we pulled into the parking lot safe and sound.
As a missionary, I’ve heard so many people admit, “I just don’t know what to do”, “I don’t know where to go”, “I’m confused” about this or that, “This is too hard.” I’ve heard questions like, “How do you know?”, “How can you be so sure?”
I’ve learned, when our eternal life is at stake we cannot rely upon the things of the world (Barclay), we cannot always be sure we’ll be lead in the right direction. How grateful I am for a loving Heavenly Father who has given us the opportunity to receive a most reliable guide: the gift of the Holy Ghost. Let’s, as Isaiah directs (1 Ne 19:23), “liken [this experience] unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.”
I may not have grown up in Rochester like you. You may not have grown up a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints like me, yet with experience, I could come to know Rochester just as well as you, and you can know the Spirit just as well, or even better than me.
I’m a very visual learner. If I can see with my natural eyes, landmarks along the way that look familiar, I become more confident in my decisions. When we read and pray over the scriptures and become more acquainted with the feelings that come from the Spirit, we will learn how to see with our spiritual eyes and hear with our spiritual ears. As a result, we will know where to turn, or rather who to turn to and grow more confident in our decisions. We can know that the direction we are headed will lead us to where we want to be. I know that is true, for I have experienced it countless times as a missionary and throughout my life.
Logic. Now this is an interesting one. In addition to feeling good, some things just. make. sense. For me, the knowledge that I have that I am a child of God and that He loves me just makes sense. For some, that is a hard concept to grasp. This is why we are given the Light of Christ. The Light of Christ “is given to every man, that he may know good from evil” (Moroni 7:16; see also verses 14-19). This gospel makes sense. As we search with a sincere heart, real intent (yep, that implies change!) and faith in Christ, we will know the truth.
Now, this one’s a toughey, for me anyway. Intuition. It’s weird that sometimes, even though we may be lost, can feel when we make a wrong turn. Back to the Light of Christ. It “… is just what the words imply: enlightenment, knowledge, and an uplifting, ennobling, persevering influence that comes upon mankind because of Jesus Christ. . . . “The light of Christ should not be confused with the personage of the Holy Ghost, for the light of Christ is not a personage at all. Its influence is preliminary to and preparatory to one’s receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. The light of Christ will lead the honest soul who ‘hearkeneth to the voice’ to find the true gospel and the true Church and thereby receive the Holy Ghost” (Bible Dictionary, “Light of Christ,” italics added). Sometimes, it’s hard to know whether it is the Spirit or just something we ate, but I know with practice, we can learn to recognize and act on the promptings we are given and inevitably be lead safely back to our heavenly home.
It is a struggle but I hope we can be patient with ourselves and with our God. We may be a few minutes later than others, but in the end, all that will matter is that we’re all there. Infact, that was what Sister Christensen said as we approached our destination. “Good job! You did it.” I said. “That was a stuggle,” she responded. This life was never meant to be easy, but by being worthy of the constant companionship of the Spirit, it is easiER. This I know.