There is a beautiful hike up a small mountain near my house which my friends and I love to go hike on sunny days. When we get to the top, we can see all the way from Mexico to San Diego to the beautiful La Jolla beaches. It is a breathtaking view and well worth the climb.
On this mountain, there are several markers giving direction along the way. They markers are large posts stuck in the ground periodically along the path reading one of two things: “Trail” or “NOT a trail.”
It got me thinking about personal revelation and how I have learned it can work for me in my life. Whenever I have an important decision to make or need heavenly guidance, I know I can take my worries and concerns to my Heavenly Father in prayer. There are definitely times when I have asked for guidance and have received definitive direction for choices I needed to make, and yet other times I feel almost as if I don’t receive any direction at all.
Why is this the case? Why does Heavenly Father answer some prayers with exact direction and others with seemingly no direction? I believe it can be a lot like these two sign posts.
Occasionally going up this mountain of mine, the “trail” markers were placed in such a way that there could be two directions that would work just fine to get you where you need to be. For example, there would be a “NOT a trail sign” to my left directly followed by a “trail” sign to my right and then another “trail” sign straight ahead that lead off in another direction completely, all the while going onwards towards the same end goal.
Some routes were definitely shorter than others with less switchbacks but more rocks, while others were much steeper with less rocks but more unstable footing. Neither path was particularly dangerous or wrong, just different.
Each time I go up this mountain, I take a different version of the “trail,” always avoiding the paths that say “NOT a trail,” but creating my own path that eventually leads me to the destination I knew was awaiting: a beautiful view of the entire journey.
I believe that Heavenly Father gives us direction in our lives a lot like this. He will not always tell us exactly which way to take because He wants us to make decisions for ourselves and come to conclusions on our own from time to time. I believe He leads us along, always knowing which decisions are life-altering and which ones will turn out alright no matter which choice we make, so He allows us to make some decisions ourselves without heavenly guidance. Sometimes it is in the choosing that we are proving our obedience and building our characters.
I believe that if we remain close to the Spirit, God will always tell us when we are NOT on the right trail. He will never allow us to get lost in forbidden paths if we simply ask — and maybe even ask again and again.
In February 3-9’s Come, Follow Me curriculum, there is a perfect quote by Elder Christofferson which reads:
“God intends that His children should act according to the moral agency He has given them. . . . It is His plan and His will that we have the principal decision- making role in our own life’s drama.”
In essence: God trusts us. We fought mightily against Satan, who wants to take those choices away from us and, in reality, rob us of the heavenly appointed plan of gaining experience, earning trust, and appreciating growth from our choices.
May we ever strive to make choices that align with the covenants we have made and the commandments of God we have been given, and in so doing, be confident in our choices. Sometimes the heavenly direction may simply be “Choose your own trail and watch how beautiful your life can become through the journey.”
Janette Beverley is a lover of life, family, music, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy, and has five amazing children and one equally amazing husband. Janette is excited to be writing for LDS Blogs and sharing her love and passion for finding the miraculous among the mundane, the awe-inspiring among the obvious, and the uplifting among the underestimated. To read more of her work, you can visit Janette's personal blog here.