My Compass in Life

What is your compass in life? When you know a change of direction is needed, where do you look? Or how do you check yourself to make sure you’re still going the right way?

For Latter-day Saints, you can hardly say the word “compass” in a gospel context without evoking the Liahona, which the prophets Nephi and Alma called “a ball, or director” (1 Nephi 16:10, 16; Alma 37:38). It was provided by the Lord to help Nephi’s family on their journey through the wilderness south of Jerusalem and then across the ocean. Wrote Nephi, “within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness” (v. 10). Nephi relied on the Liahona and frequently referred to it so his family would take the path the Lord wanted them to—which will be the best path under any circumstances.

A compass is great for helping with general direction. But what about guidance in specific situations?

With the Liahona, the Lord had it covered. Nephi recounted, “And there was also written upon [the spindles] a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it” (1 Nephi 16:29). So not only did the Liahona feature spindles to direct their feet, but it contained writing that changed according to their need under varying conditions.

Through the gift of the Holy Ghost, obtained by the laying on of hands after baptism, we can receive this kind of direction.

In the Parable of Grandma’s Photograph, Emmaline kept a picture of her deceased grandmother to help her when she felt she needed some guidance. She would think of what she knew about her grandmother and what she might counsel Emmaline to do if she were there. For me, this represents both a relationship with the Lord who is not physically with us, and then drawing upon that relationship to learn the best way to handle any given situation.

I have heard the phrase “What would Jesus do?” used tritely. Beginning somewhat recently, when faced with a challenging situation where I’m unsure what to do, I have been finding that it’s more useful to me to ask, “Did Jesus ever encounter a similar situation? If so, how did He handle it? If not, how might He?” This approach requires me to be familiar with what is recorded about His mortal life in the New Testament. If the answer isn’t there, then it requires me to know His character enough to discern what I should do. Sometimes, the answer seems obvious. At other times, it may take an answer from the Holy Ghost.

Emmaline had that relationship and at least some of that kind of knowledge about her grandmother. The picture itself gave her a way to focus on her grandmother’s influence. For us, it may be the scriptures, prayer, attending church and the temple, priesthood blessings, hymns, or any other thing that invites the influence and guidance of the Holy Ghost that will act as that catalyst for revelation.

I’m finding that by thinking about the Savior in this way, by comparing my experiences to His and drawing from that what I should do, He becomes more real to me. It makes Him more a part of my life. It makes Him even more my Guide and strengthens my relationship with Him. His example and the opportunity to seek revelation to direct my choices are ever present.

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The Fisherman’s Warning: A True Parable

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told a story of the Moken people of Indonesia and used their experience to illustrate an imperative for us:

“Journey to Higher Ground”


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The Essential Elements

By David Armstrong

Jackson’s survival kit was woefully inadequate for the challenge he faced. Caught unexpectedly on the face of a mountain at night in a rainstorm, he wished desperately for the basic essentials of survival: water, food, tools to make a fire, and materials to make a shelter. Without these crucial items, his experience on the mountain, recounted in the Parable of the Survival Kit, turned into a frightening ordeal. More than a few casual day hikers had become lost in those mountains and were not rescued in time.

Russell M. Nelson, prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has warned us repeatedly and regularly that those who are not prepared will not survive spiritually the storms and calamities that are coming. Many of the General Authorities have echoed his warning.

President Nelson is not the first to prophesy troubled times ahead for the Saints. The Lord revealed these words to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the early days of the Restoration:

“And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people;

“For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant;

“They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.

“Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;

“And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:14–18).

To survive the coming evils that will come crashing down around us like torrential downpour, we need spiritual survival kits, and those kits must be outfitted with the essential elements.

In the October 2020 general conference, President Nelson outlined what he called “our spiritual survival guide.” These are the items we absolutely must have in our survival kits:

  1. Regular, daily immersion in the scriptures.
  2. Meaningful, sincere prayer every day.
  3. Daily repentance.
  4. Faithful covenant keeping.
  5. Following the prophet.

These habits are the water, food, fire, and shelter of a spiritual survival kit. You can add lots of other things to your kit—good books, inspiring talks, strong family ties, healthy friendships, Sunday school lessons, uplifting music, and on and on. But if your kit lacks the basics, your experience in the days to come may be as miserable and frightening as being lost on a mountain in the dark in a rainstorm with a dead flashlight, a bottle of sunscreen, and a can of insect repellant.

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