Recently, I have taken up exercising at the recommendation of my daughter. And it has been great. All during my younger life, it was automatic keeping fit, but in recent years, less easy to do so. Suffice it to say that because of her encouragement, I have been even more committed. We always need to be cognizant of the health of our heart and mind. So my exercise of choice has been to go walking every morning. My wife is an avid exerciser. She walks and hikes daily with friends and has acclimated to strenuous climbs and lengthy distances. I am now in a small way following her example.
During my early morning walks, I have had time to think and plan for the upcoming day, weeks, and months ahead. Even in the midst of achieving my health goals, I have found many other benefits of walking like vitality and invigoration and others that I never expected, including spiritual edification. I learn new things every day. The exercise has increased my energy and strengthened my commitment. I have actually been exposed to areas of my own neighborhood that I have never seen during the eleven years we have lived in this community. Admittedly, sometimes it’s dark outside when I leave at daybreak and following the route can get tricky. Slippery slopes, missed turns, or severe weather are just a few of the surprises that may be awaiting me in the morning. The occasional stop sign or traffic incident can deter my walking for a moment. But even then, I learn new routes and have opportunities to try something different. It’s a lot like our journey through life: the prize is not to the speedy but to him who endures.
Nevertheless, cautions must be taken, like defensive walking where I assume that passing cars can’t see me, so I am safe even when they really can’t. New roads I have never been on and sites previously unseen make my walk refreshing and new every morning and provide edification and lessons yet to be learned. But even as I walk, lights often come on and guide me all along the way.
Again, so it is in life when we need direction or guidance or wisdom to see our circumstances a little differently, inspiration comes into our lives when we need it most. Sometimes it is in the form of another person, or a trial or challenging experience, and even in a warm feeling of confidence, appreciation, or understanding.
There are many lessons just waiting for us to learn if we look for them. And they have the unique ability to help, prepare, and sustain us. When Alma addressed Korihor, he said “all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it.” This has probably been the most unexpected benefit of my early morning walking. For a few minutes each day, I have a chance to reflect on the abundant blessings we have been given and contemplate the world and God’s majesty.
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
One day when I left the house I saw the majestic spire of the Mount Timpanogos temple in the valley. I thought that’s where I’ll walk today. Rhetorically speaking, I have been there a million times, so following the typical route was going to be easy, so I didn’t. I took some less-traveled roads, which were more serene, quieter and not so busy with traffic. But before long, I was on unknown paths that obscured my view of the temple. The trip took much longer than expected because of diversions and obstacles I didn’t anticipate. But the goal was the temple; time didn’t really matter anymore. I continued across the ice and through the trees, and up the hills. And I made it, and that’s what really matters.
The temple is a beacon in our lives of the greatness and majesty of our eternal heritage. The ensign of the temple can help us through life’s obstacles, motivate us when we are forlorn, and inspire us every day when we need help most. I have always known that, but living it one morning helped re-establish this fact in my heart and life. There are lessons I learn every day. In hopes of benefitting us, our Heavenly Father shares insights and instruction to profit all of His children.
The Savior Jesus Christ set a perfect example to encourage and motivate us to follow him. Sometimes the paths we trod during life’s hardships seem far removed from the life he lived, but they are not. His life and Atonement give us hope in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. Sometimes a detour from our typical planned route seems like a setback, when in reality we are being prepared for something much greater. I have always loved CS Lewis’ writing of our value and our potential:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so
on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
I am more in tune with my Father in Heaven. I feel more passionately the hope we all have through Jesus Christ. Walking every day has really turned out to be a blessing.
We have been encouraged to follow the example of the Savior. He taught in parables.
Yet unspoken parables are waiting for you, as well. Seize them.
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.