As a teenage driver, I remember unfolding those Rand McNally maps and spreading them out on the hood of my car, anchored down by rocks from the roadside. With a dull pencil from the glovebox, we would have to trace out the best route to follow from Point A to Point B. If you travelled much at all, you probably carried the easier-to-handle spiral books of the Thomas Guide maps. Then just in the past few years, we have been blessed with MapQuest and Google Maps – driving directions are now available right off the inkjet printer in our home. The simplicity of travel took yet another leap into the technological realm – portable GPS is now available in your cars…in your hand! GPS, or Global Positioning System, utilizes satellite uplinks and downloads to identify coordinates of your location and your desired destination. A couple of years ago, we got our own Tom-Tom to keep in the car, and to use when we need to get somewhere new. Thirty-five years ago, when I started driving (ouch…am I really that old!?!?) I would never have dreamed about this little GPS device that would tell me how to get to where I wanted to go.
This week in the Book of Mormon, we have studied about Jared and his brother, and their families and friends, leaving the region around the Tower of Babel and being led to the promised land. They came down to the seashore and contemplated about how they were going to cross the great ocean that lay in front of them. Under the directions from the Lord, they built eight barges to carry them all from Point A to Point B. Upon completion of the construction, the Brother of Jared went to the Lord with three questions: 1) How will we breathe? 2) How will we see? 3) How will we steer? The Lord gave them three totally different answers. (See Ether 2-3,6.)
To the first question of “How will we breathe?”, the Lord told him what they needed to do. To the second question of “How will we see?”, the Lord told the Brother of Jared to figure it out and to come back to Him with an answer. To the third question of “How will we steer?”, the Lord told him not to worry about that – He, the Lord, would take care of that one. By the winds and tempests that came forth out of His mouth, the Lord became the GPS for Jared, his brother, and all of the others in those eight barges. With the greatest GPS available, the survival and arrival of this group in the promised land was all but assured.
What GPS do we have for survival in our day? When I first thought upon this topic for our Seminary students, I thought of God-Parents-Seminary. However, in expanding it beyond our Seminary class, there is a more refined GPS for us all – God-Prophets-Scriptures. Along our journey through life, is there any necessary or worthy place for us to go that we couldn’t find with help from God, the prophets or the scriptures? I think not!!
When you feel overwhelmed with the spiritual oceans in front of you, or while you are being tossed about to and fro on life’s journey, turn to your GPS for guidance and survival. God is there…all you have to do is to approach Him in your prayers, thoughts and meditations. But, remember to wait and listen after you ask for directions! Don’t be too quick to get back behind the wheel and just start driving before you truly understand the directions.
We also have prophets and apostles living in our day, and they speak to us every six months – besides their monthly messages in the church publications. Again, it takes initiative from us to seek out their guidance and advice, but boy is there a lot available at our fingertips – just like on my Tom-Tom device!!
In this glorious day of the printed word, we have access to the scriptural writings of prophets and teachers from days gone by. Just like the mapmakers of our days, the stories from the scriptures lead us along the safe roads to take, and help us identify the roads not to take. Although we will be tempted to take many shortcuts during our journey, we can learn from our predecessors and stay on the right paths and avoid the pitfalls or the roads under repair.
You trust the satellites to get you from Point A to Point B. You also trust Mr. Quest and Mr. Google. What about trusting the greatest GPS ever – God-Prophets-Scriptures? You will not be misled; but it will most certainly require effort on your part. The Lord is whispering in our ears exactly what He told the Brother of Jared – “Don’t worry about it…I will steer you to the promised land. Trust me!”