Have you ever been too tired to do something you know you really should do? Have you ever brushed off a prompting because it didn’t make sense or it didn’t fit into your day? Sometimes those promptings are to bring someone cookies or send them a text or actually call them on the phone. Sometimes they are to read a certain talk from a church leader or a particular passage of scripture. Most of those things we can squeeze in to our schedule – especially if the cookies are store-bought. But, sometimes there is a larger time (and even a wardrobe) commitment. Sometimes we get a prompting to go to the temple and sometimes it is direction to go spontaneously. That can be difficult. It will certainly take hours. What if we have other activities planned that require work clothes? Then we have to figure out how to wear a temple-appropriate clothes for the temple and afterwards find somewhere to change into the work clothes? It can be difficult to make time for the Lord and attending His house but it is always worth it. (By no means does that mean that I follow through on the prompting to attend the temple every time I receive it. Why do you think I’m writing this? I need to learn a lesson here.)
A Lesson from Nephi
In 1 Nephi 17, Lehi’s family has arrived in Bountiful. They had suffered so many afflictions that “we cannot write them all” and they “exceedingly rejoiced” to arrive at the seashore with its fruit and wild honey (verses 5-6). It seems they are going to take a moment to regroup before starting on the next leg of their journey. After they had been there for some time, Nephi says, “the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying: Arise, and get thee into the mountain. And it came to pass that I arose and went up into the mountain, and cried unto the Lord” (verse 7). In many instances, the idea of “going up into the mountain” has been equated with the idea of going to the temple. So, Nephi gets a prompting to go to the temple and he goes. Granted, it doesn’t seem this is Nephi’s busiest day – they aren’t actively traveling and, with all that fruit and honey around, hunting for food may not be as much of a priority as earlier.
(Speaking of, have you noticed that it was just the previous chapter where Nephi’s bow broke and they were suffering with great hunger and then, just turn the page and they are in a land with so much food that they call it Bountiful? The Lord delivers us from our afflictions. However, I don’t know if Nephi’s family would appreciate the idea of “just turn the page.” As in all trials, the deliverance comes in the time of the Lord…not ours. Most of the time, it would be nice if all we had to do was turn a page but that isn’t often the case.) Okay, sorry for the tangent. Back to the temple.
Nephi receives the prompting to go to the mountain. I think of it as the Holy Ghost saying, “Hey, Nephi, we’ve got something we need to tell you but here isn’t the right place. Come on up to the mountain and we’ll talk there?” Nephi follows the prompting and is blessed with much knowledge and inspiration. He is commanded to build a ship and taught how to do so (verses 8-11). He is promised to be guided and directed by the Lord and he’s told that when he arrives in the promised land that he will know it was the Lord that brought him there (verses 13-14).
What if he had dismissed the prompting? What if he felt weary in well-doing? What if he’d thought, “Maybe next week. I’ll make time next week. Right now I just want to relax a bit – play some soccer on the beach and eat some strawberries”? In our world, this could look like, “Today is my only free day when I don’t have quite as many obligations hanging over me. I’d rather just have some quiet time by myself and not add another appointment.” Or maybe Nephi thought “I really should go up to the mountain but I also really want to talk to my father more about those dreams with the tree.” In our world, this could look like, “I really do want to go to the temple but I have so much I need to do for my calling. I still need to figure out a lesson for Sunday and prepare a talk. I can’t be preparing by studying conference talks while sitting in the temple.” Or Nephi could have responded “I’d love to go to the temple but I do really need to make more time for Laman, Lemuel and Sam so that I can build a relationship of trust and share my testimony with them.” In our world, and changing the family relationships a bit, this could sound like “With my work obligations and my kids’ school obligations, I hardly see them. Why would I want to give up a good chunk of my only family-fun day – Saturday – to be away from them even more – even if it is at the temple?”
(I’ll let you come up with your own counterpoints to each of those excuses.)
Thankfully, Nephi followed through, went up to the mountain and received inspiration and direction from the Lord. What types of inspiration and direction do we miss out on when we don’t follow the prompting? We may not be instructed to construct a ship but we can be instructed how to construct a family. And, I know that I am probably more clueless about how to make the tools to construct a family than Nephi was about constructing the ship. (If I could just have a sit-still-during-prayer tool, that would be great!) We may be instructed how to deal with a current trial or dilemma or find strength and comfort in the trial.
And Now Cue Life
About a month ago, we were struggling a bit. My husband and I weren’t working and our kids hadn’t started the school year yet. We had a lot of free time and needed some inspiration so we made a goal to greatly increase our temple attendance. We did good at making time for the temple during that time. Now, my husband is working nearly full-time hours, I’m working some and the kids are busy with school and extra-curricular activities. It is significantly more difficult to make time for the temple and we haven’t attended as frequently. I have felt the Spirit say, “So now that you aren’t in such a desperate need for help and guidance, you don’t take time for us anymore? Dude, what’s up with that? Just because you have your problem figured out doesn’t mean we don’t have more to teach you.” (*It may not seem reverent to some for the Spirit to say “dude” but the Spirit speaks in our language and I use the word “dude.” Disclaimer – I grew up in the 1980’s.) He has a valid point there and I’m trying to get things back on track and increase my attendance again. I know that, as I prioritize the temple, I will be given insights and guidance that will help me in my day-to-day activities and I will be blessed to be able to accomplish that which is needful for me and my family. In a talk at 2010 BYU Women’s Conference, Sister Julie B. Beck, said, “What things must be taken care of, and if I don’t take care of them, the blessings of eternal life won’t be mine nor will they be my family’s. I wrote at the top of the essential list revelation. I have to be able to know the mind and will of God. Therefore, I have to do the things in my life that put me in a position to hear His voice.” As I prioritize the temple, I will be prioritizing my family.
Years ago, before I had any family obligations and my schedule felt much more open to spontaneous inspiration, I used to carry a change of clothes in my car just in case I decided to drop by the temple. One day, I was headed home from work and had the prompting that I needed to go to the temple right then. I adjusted my route and headed to the temple. (Can’t you hear the spiritual GPS – “Recalculating. New destination is ‘Inspiration’.”) I was excited. I thought, “That was a pretty clear prompting. This must be important. I wonder what I’ll get to learn!” As the only member of the church in my family, I’d been struggling a bit with feeling alone in the gospel. I’d hoped that maybe I would learn something about that. I decided to do an endowment session. Throughout the session, I was just waiting for a constant stream of inspiration but nothing profound was coming. As it was winding down I felt a little disappointed. Then I stood for the final part of the ordinance. As I said the last sentence of the ordinance, the Holy Ghost washed over me and I was overcome as I realized the blessings of the Lord given to us in His Holy House include a promise that we never need to feel lonely. As we leave the temple, we are given power and glory of God and angels have charge over us (D&C 109:22). Who doesn’t need more power, glory and angels these days? I had a bishop that taught that if anyone is going to sign up to be an angel to help you that it likely will be someone connected to you – family members on the other side of the veil. Those angels were further proof that I was not, and will not, be alone in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Your Savior loves you. He cares deeply about you and the details of your lives. Sometimes it is impossible for Him to get His messages to us over the noise and busyness of the world. He needs us to come to His House to learn from Him and feel the Spirit in more abundance. Think of it as “Home Teaching in His House.” Go up to the mountain, feel of His love and learn His word.