The Virtue of the Journey

One of the principles that has recently entered my mind and soul with great force lately, is the virtue of the journey.

I was once in a fireside given by a Franciscan Priest who had converted to the LDS church. The Franciscan order is apparently focused upon lifelong education. This fine gentleman had three doctorates in English alone, and many advanced degrees in History, Scripture, Ancient History and other relevant areas. His particular love was Biblical History.

He told the story of his conversion, which occurred after he had confounded a young missionary from Idaho on the first day of his mission. He had reduced this young boy to tears, pounding him with doctrine and scripture which the boy had never considered in his whole life. He was not prepared to withstand the assault on his faith. He sat there and wept, then slowly stood. He said something like, “I don’t know the answers to any of your questions. If all what you say is true, then my faith and church couldn’t be true. But, I just want you to know that it don’t matter to me. I just know it’s true anyway because God said to my heart that it is.”

The priest said that in all of his life he had never been so confounded, convicted and shamed. He knew that with all of his learning, all of his advanced degrees that God had never testified to him as powerfully as God had to this young missionary who could hardly even speak a coherent sentence. He said he did not know that the Catholic Church was “true”. He just knew that he was content with his logical conclusions, and with the benefits his membership and Priestly status afforded him. He had assumed that if anything was not true in his chosen church or belief, that all of his education would have revealed it by now. He said that scruffy and unsophisticated lad changed his life, because he suddenly had no answer. There simply is no learning that is more profound than personally revealed truth. He realized this kid had something he did not, and he desired it for himself.

This fireside was riveting.  Not only was the story he told stunning, but the way he told it was as if he was speaking the tongue of angels. His language was so beautiful, so poetic and powerful, that it was actually almost divine to listen to.

After the fireside a woman stood and asked him how long it had taken him to prepare the fireside tonight. Without hesitating to think, he replied 59 years – his entire life.

This is the virtue of the journey. We can’t arrive at any righteous destination without the journey. It is the trial and struggle of the journey that changes us, so that when we actually arrive, we are worthy to enter.

I have many friends over the years, who suddenly decided to move to Missouri so that when the time to return to Zion came, they would already be there. I do not doubt that this was the Lord’s plan for them, so I’m not judging them in any way. But, I also know that “being there” isn’t the point. Even if you live one block away, you can’t avoid the spiritual journey to Zion.

Arriving in the actual Latter-day Zion which will be prepared to receive Christ when He returns is a spiritual triumph, not a hiking accomplishment. It’s very much like finally obtaining the grand blessings of the temple. I’m not referring to participating in the ordinances, but of actually realizing the blessings promised by the ordinance. The journey didn’t happen inside the temple – that was the “being there” part. The journey happened in a long course of your life, learning obedience, learning consecration,  and paying the price that such things exact, so that when the veil parts before you many years later, that you are finally worthy to enter.

This is why every righteous journey includes sacrifice, struggle, pain and thousands of blows by the hammer in the Refiner’s loving hand. Because, this is the journey, not getting from point A to point B, but coming to Christ and submitting ourselves to the journey He lays before us.

This is the virtue of the journey of our lives, that it not only takes us to the places, but that through the atonement and grace of Christ all along the way, it purifies and sanctifies us so that as the veil begins to part, or as the New Jerusalem appears on the next hill, we are worthy to enter in.

Brother John

© November 2011, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.

About John Pontius

I am a lover of truth.
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10 Responses to The Virtue of the Journey

  1. Thank you for sharing. Keep up the great work.

    Jeffrey Denning


  2. James says:

    This points to why children are saved and most adults aren’t. It also illustrates how individuals who dedicate their lives to knowing the Lord in the best way they know, become ‘ready-mix concrete’, so when they join the laborers in the vinyard at the 11th hour, all that’s needed is to add water and they’re done (like how Elder Oakes once put it..). It seems that the Lord has made it so anyone who truly loves the Him, will eventually make it.

    Even if they don’t move to Missouri soon enough, I imagine the spirit can carry the faithful to Zion if the plan requires it. He has taken prophets to high mountains to be with God, so why not carry the faithful to Zion?


  3. ken h says:

    A couple Book of Mormon stories come to my mind that show these things about the journey. The Brother of Jared arrives at the beach and basically went on vacation for four years and did not call upon the Lord. ( Living in Southern California, I could relate to this) Once he built the barges and then inquired of the Lord about lighting them did He come up to the mountain top for help. Just imagine, had he built the barges right after arriving at the beach and then called upon the Lord, he and those with him would have possibly arrived at their promised land 3 ½ years earlier. Again, Lehi and his family traveled in the wilderness for eight long painful years until they finally arrived in their promised land. Had they had the faith and obedience of Nephi they would have possibly arrived there years earlier. But they too had to learn the painful and difficult lessons that they did because of their lack of diligence they gave to the Lord. The sooner we learn to submit to Christ completely the easier and quicker the journey perhaps might be. The saying goes, “ We are our own worse enemy.” This is true and the only way to overcome this is to submit completely to the “lover of our soul” even Christ Jesus. Each person’s journey is always painful, agonizing, and yes very personal indeed. The journey to Our promised land, even Zion, will not be easy for anyone but the Lord wants us to prepare every needful thing now. The greatest preparation any of us can do is come unto Him would will prepare us in His own way to accomplish His divine purposes. May it be so.


  4. mdenkers1 says:

    This testimony and example touches me so much. Thank you, this is what I needed to hear today. May I have permission to share this? Marion


  5. Pearl says:

    As I was pondering this post I thought of a question I might ask.

    How do you know the difference between chastening from the Lord, trials that are common to mankind, and suffering caused by our own bad/uninformed/foolish choices?

    And does it matter?


    • John Pontius says:

      Dear Pearl,

      We’ve Un-Blogged a few times about chastisement from the Lord. I’m not an authority on this subject, but the only chastisement I’ve ever experienced, or read about, came in the form of the withdrawal of the Holy Spirit. The trials are more of a result of having no guidance, than a cursing from God. Disobeidence causes the same effect. We suffer because we are not being led.

      There are trialsthat are “common to man”, such as death and sickness. Staying within the warmth of revelation makes these trials work to our glory. Sometimes we can avoid trials this way, but most often these trials occur because they are good for us, and bring us closer to the greater purposes of our lives.

      I do believe very much that God will not save us in the moment, and deny us an experience that would have exaulted us in the eternal sense. Being an eternal being, God views the outcome of our lives far more importantly than the process that gets us there.

      “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
      And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”
      (Hebrews 5:8-9)


  6. Randall Vaughan says:

    Dear Brother John:

    Yoour blog brought tears to my eyes and my voice was breaking as I read this to my wife. I truly felt as if in your description that I was there not at the fireside but with the young missionary that spoke a powerful and simple truth, his testimony in the restored gospel that he knew it was true, eternally true. When truth is spoken the holy spirit will always confirm and ratify that truth.

    May I submit that as one who never planned to leave their comfortable home in southern Utah to make the journey to Missouri but, when you receive that instruction, you don’t do so with any expectation, or agenda. You go in total faith and obedience, in our case going without purse or script, not knowing if you will be there a week, a month or for years. You go only with one objective and that is to do the Father’s Will, because many years before you consecrated your life, so you obey. Now after twelve years and much sacrifice and much instruction, the dots begin to connect and you accept those teachings given by the spirit, and you begin experiencing the joy Father promised, in the JOURNEY.

    Now I rejoice because the Lord sent me a second witness through a beautiful man that teaches the Father’s truth, thank you, Brother John!


  7. dmarie says:

    Brother John,
    This was such an inspiring post. I will always remember this conversion story. The Lord doesn’t care if we are sophisticated or “learned”. He can mold us to who He wants us to be if we are open to that, and the small and simple things can bring about great change, as happened here with this missionary with a testimony up against someone who thought he knew so much more, but who was honest in heart and was willing to examine his own possible ignorance of spiritual things.


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