As a missionary I have many opportunities to meet with different kinds of people and discuss the gospel with them. In doing so, I have experienced a wide variety of responses, both positive and negative, from all types of people. Often I have wondered what people are thinking, doing, reasoning; and why. How they have come to act, think, or profess to be a certain way. Coming to the realization that despite the world and all it's diversity in culture, language, and religion, in the long run there are only two paths that matter. Two paths that ultimately we all must decide between: God's and Satan's.
In his vision of the tree of life, the prophet Lehi witnesses the course of humanity and their journey towards either of these two masters (the Lord or the devil). He sees a tree, "exceeding all beauty," "which is precious above all" (1 Ne. 11:8-9). This tree is the tree of life, which is a representation of the love of God (1 Ne. 11:25), and the path to it is God's path, which is "strait and narrow" (1 Ne. 8:20). In contrast, the great and spacious building is a representation of the pride of the world (1 Ne. 11:36) which is where Satan would lead us.
Lehi recounts in his vision the different methods by which people arrive at the tree of life or the great and spacious building (see 1 Ne. 8:4-34). I'm not as concerned with how to get to the great and spacious building as I am with how we can arrive at the tree of life.
Because we have a loving Heavenly Father, he has provided a way for us to reach the tree of life and partake of the fruit, which fruit is "most desirable above all things," and "the most joyous to the soul" (1 Ne. 11:22,23). In the vision there is a rod of iron which leads us to the tree. That is order to partake of the fruit, and make it through the mists of darkness, one must catch hold of the iron rod and press forward, continually holding on to it.
The iron rod is the word of God (1 Ne. 11:25) and is the only way we can stay on the strait and narrow path and experience the fullness joy that comes from the gospel. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. It is promised to lead us without fail back to our Heavenly Father, as long as we cling to it and press forward. The road is tough, there are temptations and trials and we will sometimes lose our way, but the Book of Mormon, the word of God, will always be there to help us stay on the path.
I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and as Joseph Smith testify that "the Book of Mormon [is] the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by it's precepts, than by any other book" (Book of Mormon, Intro.). I also know that the fruit that comes from diligence and obedience to the gospel brings greater joy than anything that this world has to offer.
What a tremendous blessing! What a great, and merciful, and loving Heavenly Father! How great is our God! To have a prepared a way for us to be happy. Eternally, and fully happy. To be guided in a world of darkness and confusion. To light the path beneath our feet, and lead us by the hand.
I love this gospel, and I love the Book of Mormon. I invite everyone to read it, whether it's the first time or the thousandth time, to feast on it's words, and watch in wonder as it leads you back to your Father in Heaven and our Savior Jesus Christ. "The gospel is not our last option, it is our only option" (Al Fox).
Moroni, a prophet in the Book of Mormon stated simply yet clearly, "God prepared a more excellent way" (Ether 12:11).
Throughout life we face trials and pitfalls, sorrow and discouragement, but God prepared a more excellent way. We sometimes lose sight of what matters most, and fall short of our potential, but God prepared a more excellent way. This mortal experience isn't easy; it is challenging, it is trying, it is difficult. Which is why God prepared a more excellent way.
"Men are, that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25). "Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world" (Ether 12:4). Heavenly Father loves us, and He did not send us here to fail. He sent us here to succeed. We cannot do it alone, we have never been able to do it alone, and that is why He didn't leave us alone.
Through Jesus Christ we succeed, we conquer, we have hope, we experience the fullness of joy. I know because He is what bring me the greatest happiness. He is my Shepherd, my Master, and my best friend. As we recognize and cultivate our divine relationship with God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost our lives will change.
"In the gift of his Son hath God prepared a more excellent way." (Ether 12:11, emphasis added)
He loves you, He is always there, He has promised that He will not "fail thee, nor forsake thee" (Joshua 1:5). I know that through the fullness of the everlasting gospel found only in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that we "might be partakers of the heavenly gift" (Ether 12:8).
How grateful I am to share this message with all the world.
- Elder Horne
To learn more go to mormon.org or message me at firstname.lastname@example.org