We are all safely back from our California trip. We enjoyed our trip very much, and give a huge thanks to Victoria and Jay for their hospitality and for the Redlands fireside. It was a wonderful opportunity. Now I want to get my head back into the real world of Un-Blogging and doing the Lord’s work, instead of dealing with what motel we going to stay at tomorrow night.
One of the questions I get asked quite often is if pursuing a course of righteousness makes your life harder. Does it just add trials and opposition and pain that we could avoid by just doing the minimum to qualify for eternal life while in mortality?
I have considered this question for some time now, because it is important. The expected reward has to be significantly compensating for the struggle, or people just won’t do it. I’m stubborn and determined in spiritual matters, but I have also wondered many times if I was making my life harder by doing so.
Many years ago I was walking through my home when I saw a vision of my own life up to that point. The whole vision seemed to go on for a long time, but no actual time elapsed. It was somewhat like Lehi’s vision. I saw myself from above and behind. I could see the path I should have gone down, and eventually did, was rather short. Then I watched my life as I made both good and bad decisions. The good decisions moved me upward a little ways, then my incorrect decision sent me down long painful paths that did not move me forward spiritually. During that time, there was opposition and pain and significant trials – all of which were engineered to push me back onto the straight and narrow way. Then, I made a series of correct decisions by following the voice of the Holy Spirit, and I made significant forward progress before allowing myself to be bumped off of the path again.
I concluded that the majority of the trials I experienced were while I was not on the pathway of light and truth. During those times my trials were to humble me and to motivate me to return to a true course.
Here’s the interesting thing, when I was on the pathway, I still had trials of the same intensity, except that I was prayerful and humble, willing to learn and grow, and these trials pushed me upward, instead of sideways.
In my little view of my life, I traveled 100 hard miles for every 1 mile on the straight and narrow path. Those 100 were by far the hardest.
A possible metaphor of mortal life might be that life is a mighty wind storm that always blows. We are going to live our life in the biting wind no matter if we are on the path or off. The only difference is, when we are off of the path, obeying our own will, or the demands of the flesh, then the winds are pounding us to propel us back onto the path. The pain, struggle and loss don’t move us toward eternal life, but rather sideways back toward the straight and narrow way. We are being compelled to be humble by the winds of mortality, which is a painful and wasting process with little upward movement.
When we finally humble ourselves and choose to walk the straight path, especially when we permanently declare our discipleship and our determination to obey forevermore, then the winds push us upward along the path. Instead of humbling us with sorrow and pain, they begin to purify and gift us with faith sufficient to work miracles, see visions and claim the greater blessings. The trials don’t end, or become less even, but the voice of revelation guides, protects and sanctifies us through our trials.
In my estimation it is actually far harder to experience mortality on the forbidden pathways, where the sting of mortality is not swallowed up by faith, hope and revelatory knowledge.
So, I would answer the question, is life harder when we are on the path? I say, no, it is approximately the same on or off. The glorious difference is that when we are on the straight path, we are purified by life’s struggles rather than battered into submission by them, and we are empowered by the atonement to obtain the vast and glorious blessings mortality offers those who are true and faithful in all things.
© July 2011, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.