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.

Photo by Bakr Magrabi on

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