“Compass of the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 2005, 96–97
Brothers and sisters, as I sat here I felt a great desire to express my love to you and to assure all who are under the sound of my voice of the love of their Heavenly Father. On behalf of the Brethren, I express gratitude for your willingness to come this day to be nourished by the good word of God.
I enjoy hiking in the mountains, and as I move along in the backcountry I often use a compass, maps, and signs to guide me toward my destination. These tools prove to be very helpful, even invaluable, when I am faced with unknown roads and trails that run in every direction.
Life is full of many intersecting roads and trails. There are so many paths to follow, so many voices calling out “lo, here” or “lo, there.”1 There is such a variety and volume of media flooding our personal space, most of it intent on herding us down a path that is broad and traveled by many.
When pondering which of these voices to listen to or which road among the many is right, have you ever asked yourself, as Joseph Smith did: “What is to be done? Who of all these [voices and roads is] right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?”2 My witness to you is that Jesus Christ continues to mark the path, lead the way, and define every point on our journey. His path is strait and narrow and leads toward “light and life and endless day.”3 May I share an example from the scriptures with you.
At the Lord’s command, Lehi and his children left Jerusalem and began an epic journey toward a land of promise. After being camped for a season in a valley by the river, the Lord told Lehi one night it was time to continue their journey into the wilderness. With much on his mind, he walked out his tent door the next morning and, to his great astonishment, found an object before him on the ground that could only have been placed there by the hand of God. It was a compass, a Liahona in their language, and its pointers were constructed to guide them on their journey, allowing them to steer a course where they could prosper and remain safe in the more fertile parts of their route. But that was not all. Writing appeared on this compass that was plain and easy to read and even changed from time to time, giving the family better understanding concerning the ways of the Lord.4
During their journey, this Liahona, or compass, proved to be invaluable in helping Lehi’s family prosper and eventually arrive at their destination. But it is important to note Nephi’s observation that it was only through the faith, diligence, and heed they gave to the compass that it worked. Of this marvelous helper that guided them through the wilderness Nephi simply observed, “And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things.”5
Nephi’s conclusion was not lost on Alma 500 years later when he reminded his own son about the importance of the Liahona. He explained to Helaman that the Lord prepared this compass to show their fathers the course they should travel in the wilderness, but because that miraculous device worked by small means, their fathers were slothful and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence. As a result, this marvelous device ceased to work, and they did not progress in their journey or travel a straight course but tarried in the wilderness and were afflicted because of their negligence.6
“O my son,” Alma continued, “do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever. And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live.”7
The Lord provides guidance and direction to individuals and families today, just as He did with Lehi. This very general conference is a modern Liahona, a time and place to receive inspired guidance and direction that prospers us and helps us follow God’s path through the more fertile parts of mortality. Consider that we are gathered to hear counsel from prophets and apostles who have prayed mightily and prepared carefully to know what the Lord would have them say. We have prayed for them and for ourselves that the Comforter would teach us the mind and will of God. Surely there is no better time or place for the Lord to direct His people than in this conference.
The teachings of this conference are the compass of the Lord. In the coming days you may, as Lehi did, walk out your front door and find a Liahona, Ensign, or other Church publication in your mailbox, and it will contain the proceedings of this conference. As with the Liahona of old, this new writing will be plain and easy to read and will give you and your family understanding concerning the ways and paths of the Lord.
As Nephi and Alma both remind us, the Lord provides direction for our journey according to the faith, diligence, and heed we give to that direction. He is not likely to reveal new paths if we have not faithfully followed Him along those He has already marked. Provident prospering along the way comes to those who diligently follow inspired counsel, making it their “walk and talk” until once again a new writing appears to help them progress in their journey toward the land of promises.
My brothers and sisters, prophets and apostles through the ages are our compass from the Lord. His direction through them is plain; the charted course from them is sure. His path, like His yoke, is easy. But do not be deceived by the easiness of His way, assuming it to be a small matter or a thing of naught, but rather take care of these sacred things and look to Him so you can be like Him and live with Him—forever.
I stand today as a witness that our Father’s promises will all be fulfilled; that He sent His Only Begotten to the earth to mark the path and lead the way; that the Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith on the morning of a beautiful, clear day early in the spring of 1820, restoring thereafter all that is required to successfully complete man’s earthly journey; and that a prophet today, President Gordon B. Hinckley, points the way for those who will look and live forever. That we will exercise our faith and diligently give heed to the directions and pointers of latter-day Liahonas, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.