Tuesday, September 7, 2010
foolish and blind guides...Helaman 13: 24-30
In 1996 my husband had opportunity to travel to Anchorage Alaska for a business trip with the Society of Actuaries. I had the opportunity to go with him. While we were there we enjoyed many of the adventures that the Alaskan wilderness offers. We saw reindeer, ate scrumptious Salmon, saw the 6 foot tides that come into the Turnagain Arm Bay, flew through a glacier, and watched the days shorten some 11 minutes (7-8 min a.m and p.m.) each day. There were many different adventures that mystified and awed us in the land of ice.
One afternoon we drove to a nearby Chugach State Park so that we could see the wilderness and get some exercise. When we arrived we discovered to our dismay that the ranger station was of the "self-serve" variety. It offered maps and guides to several marked trails but no one to offer personalized guidance or tips. Anxious to exercise and see the
beautiful trails, we set off to hike our way through the unknown territory.
Having had a course in hiking and backpacking my husband deferred the decision making to me. Although he is an avid lover of Scouting now, he was not raised with scouting. I decided to follow along the trails and then work our way back to the parking lot. I used the sun as my guide for direction and felt very confident that we were on the correct path. It was much later (2 hours) that I discovered we were lost.
We had walked clear of the trail and could not find our way back to the beaten path. We were ill prepared. The day was quickly ending and night loomed just beyond the tree-line. I felt fear rise within my throat but kept assuring my husband that we were going the correct way. His trust in my decision was absolute. We continued on, but as I peered down at the map in front of me and the sun above me, I knew I was confused as to our whereabouts? What should we do?
Still not recognizing my orienteering error, I continued to use the Alaskan Sun as my guide. I figured that it was traveling in a elliptical path across the sky and that everything in one direction was north while everything in the oppositie was south? When you live in the south (much closer to the equator) this makes sense and is actually correct thinking.
When you are near the poles of the earth, the sun's path is much different and the arc of the earth makes for daylight that diminishes in greater and greater quantities each day. In other words you can't always rely on the sun position in the sky to help you determine the direction of your path or your position.
I felt foolish. I might have gotten us into deep trouble. I felt blinded by my "inexperienced knowledge." I thought how no one knew of our hiking plans, and how no one really knew we were here. We had no means of communication and had not seen anyone for quite some time.
I said many silent prayers and felt the need to continue moving forward.
Eventually we found ourselves on a main mountain road that ran up the side of the mountain and was most likely used for hunting. I jumped at the chance to follow it down the mountain until I saw where our 'original' path recrossed it. From here I was able to determine where to hike. I was able to find my way.
But for weeks I wondered what had happened? Why had I misread the Alaskan sky? Then it hit me. The Sun sits very close to the pole and arcs in such a way that the traditional four directions are distorted from how I was accustomed to thinking of them. Also, that close to the north pole, the sun's position changes from day to day. The view of it's elliptical path changes as the the tilt of the earth orbits through space around the sun.
I had to admit it. I had been a foolish and blind guide. I had supposed I knew what I did not. I had walked after the pride of my own heart and let flattering words tell me I could do no wrong.
There are many foolish and blind guides in our lives. The prophets have been given to us to warn us of them. We are very fortunate to live in a day and time where we have living prophets to offer guidance and direction. Using God's wisdom they can guide us through wilderness that has different orienteering guidelines. They have the experience and words of wisdom from God that will not only keep us on the safe path, but will lead us back if we err in judgement.
Today the family is under attack because of our unwillingness to "follow the prophets". We view unsavory material on the television and internet and claim it as relaxation time. We allow the lowering of standards with regards to dress, language, and moral etiquette. We allow the children to lead us. We believe that because it is new, it is better.
The words of the prophets have always been sent to "tell it like it is." If we are humble we can accept them and use them to change our ways. If we listen with a heart filled with gratitude we can maneuver our families out of the wilderness and back onto safe paths.
Words and Phrases
24 cast out the prophets- If we do not choose to listen to the words of counsel our prophets have given us we essentially are casting them out from among us so that we don't have to hear their words of wisdom.
vs 25 in the days of our fathers - It is a fact of human nature that we somehow believe that in different circumstances, in a different time we would behave differently. The truth is that mankind has a pattern of behavior that the prophets are able to read and predict. Just as their are truths in the laws of nature, there are truths in the laws of human behavior. The prophets are the ones who understand these truths and can help us discover them within ourselves.
vs 26 that your deeds are evil - when we don't hear what we want to hear, we believe that the person speaking them is a false prophet, a liar. When we don't hear what we want... then the world is wrong and we are always right. This is flattery of the soul. It is a very dangerous habit for it numbs us to the truth.
vs 27 walk after the pride of our your own hearts - The pride of our own hearts in today's society says that there is no sin, that homosexuality is okay b/c we are programed this way, that we are not responsible for one another's pain or greif and thus not responsible for one another's joy or happiness. We call those who speak flattery prophets and those that speak pridefully our leaders. It is a dangerous game. The prophets will speak only the truth and they will stand by it never shifting their stance or swaying from their position of guidance.
vs 29 foolish and blind guides - anyone who says that he has truth have his words tested. Anyone can write a book these days. Anyone can say that they are guides. OUr family recently had the occurrence of having our children hiking. They prepared well. They packed water, food, first aid, and a hiking guide known for the area that were to traverse. But it turns out their guide was mistaken. It put their lives in danger and caused them no little greif. It is important to choose your guides in life wisely.