A few years ago, I was driving home from college to visit for a weekend. It was my first time driving home alone from the university, and with the drive being about three hours long, I was still learning the route – which meant I was using a GPS.
I wasn’t using my phone as a GPS because I didn’t want to kill the battery. Instead, I had one of those old GPS’s that was kind of difficult to put the address in and that you’d attempt to stick to the windshield even though it never stayed up.
But I had it all set up just right. My home address was saved, so all I had to do was tap the “Home” button and it would take me home easy as anything.
Or so I thought.
Don’t ask me how, but somehow the GPS changed my route and took me off the highway too soon, leading me onto a series of backroads that didn’t reconnect to the highway for what felt like an hour. In fact, the only reason I made it back on the highway at all was that I saw an on-ramp and took it, ignoring the GPS telling me otherwise. My trip could have been hours longer had I continued to follow the GPS.
To be fair to the GPS, it was always taking me to the right destination, but it chose a much longer, slower, and indirect route to my home than was ideal.
Needless to say, I didn’t use that GPS much after that.
Our Journey of Life
On our path of life, we all take different routes to our destination – and that’s okay because we all have different things to learn, people to serve, and roles to play. But sometimes the paths we take differ because of who we’re listening to.
When I was trying to drive home, I trusted my GPS to get me there safely and quickly. Instead, it led me away from the most direct route home. The GPS wasn’t the worst source for directions – it was still taking me to the correct destination after all – but it didn’t take the best route.
As we go through life, we’ll all have times that we leave the best or most direct route to our eternal destination – exaltation and returning to our Father in Heaven. None of us is perfect, and God expects that we’ll deviate at times, even frequently. But who we listen to along the way can play a big role in our deviations and even in our destination.
Influences in Our Lives
We have lots of people and things in our lives that attempt to direct us one way or another. Some of those voices work to not only change our path but our destination. These voices can be destructive to our faith and hope.
These are voices like Korihor that say things like, “Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ,” and “This derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so” (Alma 30:15-16).
These “teachings” support the natural man, try to make us comfortable in apathy, and justify sin. They turn people away from the source of truth, Jesus Christ, who has come and will come again, and who does not deceive seekers of truth. While it may be easier to believe the kinds of things Korihor claimed, those teachings will hinder our progress and take us completely away from God if we accept them into our lives.
Some influences are like my GPS, not really changing the destination but leading us onto side paths that make our journeys more difficult. In life, these influences can seem harmless – “Oh, it won’t hurt you to do it once” or “Everyone’s doing it, it’s fine.”
But over time these “harmless” influences make it more and more difficult to reach your destination. They distract from the most important things and they build on each other to take us further away from the path. Even if our goal to return to God doesn’t really change, the path back to Him will change drastically.
Even though there are many of these negative influences in the world, there are also influences that lead us closer to our destination. The teachings of our Savior, Jesus Christ, are the best influence to follow. And because Christ often speaks through His prophets, the teachings of His prophets – both in the scriptures and living today – can guide and warn us so we can choose the best path to our God.
Alma’s response to Korihor is a powerful example: “The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44).
Despite the power all these influences can have on us, where we go on our path through life is often up to us. It’s our choice to deviate away from the best path or the destination of exaltation, and it’s our choice not to deviate. Keep this line in your heart, “Let God and Heaven be your goal” (“Choose the Right,” Hymn 239).