Marcus just returned from a week-long camping trip. He was anticipating the trip for quite some time. He and 4 other men and about 12 other boys headed out to the wilderness, hiking over granite rocks and through rivers and trees. They lived off of whatever it was they brought in their packs. Marcus was prepared and ready to go.
He got home late Saturday afternoon. We talked a little about his trip, about my week with the kids...we just caught up. Sunday morning on the way to church, he was talking about the trail. Sometimes it's difficult to know when you're on it. I've been to Young Women Camp a few years and where Marcus was is in the same general vicinity. I'm familiar with hiking over granite. Sometimes, it is hard to know if you're "on the trail" because you're just walking over rocks. But it was when Marcus said, "You don't always know if you're on the trail, but....you know when you're off. Ya know?"
That really hit me. And I told him that there were several gospel analogies in that one phrase.
What hit me was this:
It's true. Sometimes we don't always know if we're on the right path. We just keep going, on faith, hoping to see the little stone markers that will guide us and confirm that, ok...we're going in the right direction. And we rely on those markers. But, if we understand hiking a little bit, if we get off the trail, we'll recognize that there aren't markers anymore...the rocks are more difficult to climb and a bit crumbled. It'll feel a little like you're off-roading...we'll feel lost and will want to turn around and find our way back because we know there are bears and rattlesnakes out there, and we want to get to where we need to go.
It's true. Sometimes we don't always know if we're on the right path. We just keep going, on faith, hoping to feel the Spirit that will guide and confirm in our hearts that, yes, we're going in the right direction. There are markers to help us know if we are, in fact, feeling the Spirit. Peace is one of those. Comfort. Happiness. Joy. Love. Some people feel warmth in their hearts or throughout their body. We may hear something someone says and feel the Spirit. When we understand the markers, we rely on them. We cling to our faith. We listen to the prophets and apostles, and we obey. We read the scriptures and feel our relationship with the Savior get stronger. We prayer and feel we are truly speaking to our Heavenly Father. But sometimes, sometimes those things become a part of our daily life. We don't feel like we're getting these overwhelming reminders that what we're doing is right. It's become so much a part of our life, that we don't feel these huge reminders. But...but when we get off the path and start turning away, if we have been trying to stay close to the Spirit, then we will recognize the feeling of not being on the path. We will feel uncomfortable and we will receive little promptings to let us know that we need to back track. And we can.
I could go on and on with this. But it really touched me, maybe because I need to backtrack a little bit myself. I keep finding new connections to that one little sentence he said. But I've decided, that if I always look for and turn towards the trail markers, I'll be safe. I may still need to make improvements, and that's ok as long as I'm on track...and then I can make the adjustments I'll need to along the way. Turn to the markers. Ok, I will.