Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Autumn Road

I believe that each of us starts out making important lifelong choices. Those who are happiest often spend the rest of their lives making more choices to honor those made previously. This is particularly true when those choices are covenants.

There is a lot of power in covenants. However, like other things that are inanimate, they only have as much power as we give them. When we keep our covenants, there is added power beyond our own because of what Father brings to the arrangement – He always sweetens the deal.

There are many things that can distract us from our covenants. Not all of them are bad. Some have to do with priorities, others merely with timing. Some choices will require us to put something off indefinitely. Many decisions only require us to yield the right of way to something better at the moment. Our decisions define our priorities.

In his talk, “Good, Better, Best,” the apostle, Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.”

I pondered this subject a few years ago and decided to capture the essence of my thoughts in a poem I call, “The Autumn Road.” I believe there are seasons in life where we would like to do something good and worthwhile, only to find it’s just not the right time. We may even feel that things are falling around us which make it that much more appealing to change our course and follow our desires at the moment. Again, our decisions define our priorities.

A month ago I traveled this road,
And let my mind run on alone.
There in the wood two roads diverge,
But one, to me, remains unknown.

That night I stood between the two,
At length before my feet arrived,
While something there called out to me,
To take the road I hadn’t tried.

I wondered at the path not seen,
Of canopy and wooded hall –
Clear brook, soft earth, and changing trees,
With leaves that wear the dress of fall.

My heart led out. I almost walked,
But stopped with thoughts of home so near.
There were, that night, more pressing needs,
And welcome words I longed to hear.

Perchance that I would be delayed,
I said that road I would not take.
Ere long my feet will there return;
Another day that choice I’ll make.

I tend to place a lot of trust in decisions that I have made earlier in life when I can say I knew it was a right decision when I made it. Confirming my decisions with prayer and the promised inspiration that follows gives me added reassurance that I am still on the right path.

We should expect to be tried and tested on significant decisions in life. The most important choices tend to lead to the greatest blessings. As we are told by Moroni in Ether 12:6, “I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.”

I think each of us will question decisions we have made at some earlier point in our lives, especially when it appears that things are different than we expected. My personal experience tells me, stay the course. The Lord told Joseph Smith in Doctrine and Covenants 11:12-14, “And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good — yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit. Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy; And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive.”

An important key in making our choices in life is to include a member of the Godhead. King Benjamin tells us that it is in our natures to make bad choices. In Mosiah 3:19 he says, “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord….”

When we follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost we can be assured that we have made good choices and that a promised blessing will be waiting for us at the end of the trial. At the same time we become more like the Savior, Jesus Christ. Our hearts become purer and we become sanctified because we yield the right of way to the best decisions.

King Benjamin then tells us that we become something greater in the process. He continues, “…and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”

The happiest people I know have spent their lives making choices that honor lifelong choices they made previously. How grateful I am for the extra help the Lord provides in answer to my prayers. I know He will help us. If He will help us when we start, He will certainly help us finish.

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