While attending Brigham Young University–Hawaii, I decided to get certified for scuba diving so I could explore the ocean that surrounded the beautiful campus. For the final part of the capstone certification, my cohort and I did a 20-minute dive off the Kewalo Basin Harbor in Honolulu.
Our dive instructor recognized that if we’d gotten to this point, we had learned how to be safe and could enjoy ourselves. We obviously still had to follow basic rules like using the buddy system, but he told us we could focus more on sightseeing than demonstrating specific skills.
The final dive was incredible, and I enjoyed watching whitetip sharks and sea turtles. Nothing has made me appreciate this beautiful earth the Lord created for us quite as much as being able to look up at the surface and realize I’m breathing underwater.
As our session neared its end, the dive instructor seemed fascinated by a pillow-sized rock. It looked as if he was trying to lift it, but I became impatient. “We have only a few minutes,” I thought to myself. “I don’t want to waste my time looking at a rock.”
I left to explore some nearby coral when suddenly I heard many muffled, excited underwater voices at once. I looked over and saw my group staring at something, but with my regulator in my mouth, I couldn’t ask what had happened.
Our group swam back up to the surface and boarded our boat. After we removed our equipment, everyone began talking excitedly about what they had seen. My buddy told me, “I tried to get your attention so you could see it swimming off!”
The instructor had seen an octopus under a rock, so he’d moved the rock for the class’s benefit. Every time the instructor moved the rock, the octopus fled back under, until it had had enough of hide-and-seek and the octopus squirted ink and swam away.
I’d snorkeled and dived several times and seen a lot of wildlife, but never an octopus. And because of my impatience, I’d missed a rare opportunity.
I pondered this experience during our hour-long drive home and realized I had learned an important gospel lesson about keeping the commandments and following the prophet. I hadn’t disobeyed the divemaster leading us. But I had implicitly decided that my guide didn’t have my best interests at heart.
I’d trusted myself more than my teacher.
If I had trusted my guide, I would’ve had a more rewarding experience. And the same principle can apply to trusting Heavenly Father by trusting His prophet.
We know that our purpose in this life is to prepare to meet God by making and keeping sacred covenants, but that’s not the only reason we’re here. Lehi taught that we are here so we “might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25).
To help us experience that joy and fulfill the measure of our creation, God has called prophets and apostles, and they serve as His mouthpiece for our benefit. He also gives us commandments so we can receive and maintain this everlasting joy.
In a way, prophets and apostles can be seen as our scuba guides and commandments as our “scuba diving rules,” because they’re intended to keep us safe and ensure our happiness.
When we think we know better, like I did with my dive instructor, we risk settling for a lesser mortal experience and show our Father in Heaven that we don’t believe He has our best interests at heart.
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
“Why do we follow the prophet? Because the Lord Jesus Christ has called him and designated him as His watchman on the tower. …
“… If we choose to set his counsel aside and determine that we know better, our faith suffers and our eternal perspective is clouded. I promise you that as you remain resolute in following the prophet, your faith in the Savior will increase.”1
We are blessed to live in a time when the word of God is readily available to us. Instead of doubting His desires for us to experience everlasting joy, we can have faith in Him and “consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God” (Mosiah 2:41).
I know that as we trust God by following His prophet and have faith in the promised blessings of keeping our covenants and His commandments, He will guide us toward amazing experiences and fill our lives with joy.