As my husband and I read the resources for the January 13-19, 2020 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families, we realized that we live in times when evil forces surround us. On our living room wall we have a painting portraying Lehi’s dream (1 Nephi 8). It serves as a reminder that we need to choose our life paths very carefully. We all should ask ourselves daily how we are navigating our lives and course correct when necessary.
Where Is the “Great and Spacious Building?
In his dream Lehi saw that multitudes of peoples did not seek after the tree of life at all. Instead, their goal was to reach a “great and spacious building,” and those who entered did then “point the finger of scorn at … those that were partaking of the fruit ” (1 Nephi 8:31,33). I used to view that building as being away from us. From Lehi’s point of view, it was “on the other side of the river of water” (1 Nephi 8:26). In the modern world, though, social media and modern technologies bring the teachings of the world into everything that we do and everywhere we go. At times it seems that we cannot escape the influences of worldly precepts and activities. The great and spacious building actually takes in all of us now.
In order to shore up our beliefs against the evils of the world, we need to build faith in Jesus Christ. We do this by studying the scriptures, paying tithes, taking the sacrament each week, dressing appropriately, honouring parents, attending the temple, and praying always. These actions can help us walk through virtually any situation that may confront us. They lead us to the tree of life—representing “the love of God” (see 1 Nephi 11:21–22).
As Jesus Himself explained, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The birth, life, and atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ are the greatest signs of God’s love for His children. When we receive the ordinances and covenants available in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are partaking of the fruit that it is “desirable to make one happy” (1 Nephi 8:10).
How Do We Forever Taste Christ’s Fruit?
In his dream, Lehi sees three groups of people who are trying to move forward on the path that would take them to the tree of life. The first crowd starts their search without holding on to the rod of iron, which represents “the word of God” (1 Nephi 11:25). They quickly became lost in “a mist of darkness” (1 Nephi 8:23), which means “the temptations of the devil” (1 Nephi 12:17). If the holy scriptures are not taken seriously, we will miss out on having the compass that points us in the direction to the Savior.
The second group of people “did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree” (1 Nephi 8:24). Because the people in the great and spacious building mocked them, “they were ashamed … and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost” (1 Nephi 8:28). Concerning this group, Elder David A. Bednar explains, “Clinging to the rod of iron suggests to me only occasional ‘bursts’ of study or irregular dipping rather than consistent, ongoing immersion in the word of God” (“Lehi’s Dream: Holding Fast to the Rod,” Ensign, Oct. 2011, 35).
The third group pressed forward “continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree” (1 Nephi 8:30). Elder Bednar notes: “the key phrase in this verse is continually holding fast to the rod of iron. …Perhaps it was the spiritual nourishment and strength provided by continually ‘feasting upon the word of Christ’ (2 Nephi 31:20) that enabled this group to heed not the scorning and mocking of the people in the great and spacious building (see 1 Nephi 8:33). This is the group you and I should strive to join”
The way for us to stay continuously on the strait and narrow path to the tree of life is for us to consistently and prayerfully study the scriptures as our daily guide.
Where Can We Find Sanctuary?
Reviewing Lehi’s dream reminded my husband and me of the trials we faced when we lived in a remote area of Canada. We belonged to a branch but were so isolated from those members that we could only see them periodically by company boat or helicopter. For a brief period of time, we were welcomed to use the community non-denominational church. We partook of the sacrament and enjoyed taking turns giving twenty-minute talks every other Sunday. We even held Relief Society and priesthood meetings there. We dressed in our Sunday best—just the two of us as a rule.
Then, some opposition arose in the community. We had to return the keys and were told, “You are not Christians.” We lived with these ostracising circumstances for about eleven years.
Undeterred, we held services in our home. Our son Darren joined us as a summer student during those years. When he was with us, he connected with youth of other churches in the community, and they would do all kinds of fun things together. The phone would ring off the hook with kids of all ages asking: “Where is Darren? Is he there yet?” “When is he coming in; we can’t wait.” Darren supported us with all of the trials we faced.
During these critical years, our son Philip passed away. We were crumpled, broken, and devastated. It seemed unbearable.
As a family we turned everything over to the Lord to survive. The Lord shouldered it, and we kept going.
With all of these challenges going on, Darren made a decision to serve a mission for the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Blessings of a Home-centered and Church-supported Plan
Our family stood together, for the right, amidst the turmoil without murmur or complaint. We followed President Hinckley’s example and counsel: “The people of the earth are all our Father’s children and are of many and varied religious persuasions. We must cultivate tolerance and appreciation and respect one another” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, Chapter 20: Fellowship with Those Who are Not of Our Faith, 275).
We were happy, busy, and loved our callings. Eventually, we were invited to write articles for the local newspaper about the Family Proclamation. We learned to always be prepared because we never knew when we would be called upon to stand up for God. During this time, we had “a home-centered and Church-supported plan to learn doctrine, strengthen faith, and foster greater personal worship” long before President Russell M. Nelson announced it at the October 2018 general conference (“Opening Remarks” Ensign, Nov. 2018).
Now that we have all moved to the Cardston, Alberta area, we rejoice in the opportunities to be a part of organized stakes and wards and attend the temple regularly. We realize, however, that we must continue “holding fast to the iron rod” (1 Nephi 8:30) in our homes, at Church meetings, and in the world.1