In the Book of Mormon (a book revered as scripture by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes mistakenly called the “Mormon Church”) we learn about an ancient prophet, Lehi, and his family’s journey to a Promised Land in the Americas. On their journey they received a blessing from the Lord, recorded as follows:
And it came to pass that as [Lehi] arose in the morning, and went forth to the tent door, to his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness (1 Nephi 16:10).
This ball was called the Liahona. In a book titled, Be Not Afraid—Only Believe, written by Ted L. Gibbons, and published in 2009 by Cedar Fort, Inc.(pp 139-141), Gibbons shares more insight on the matter:
Following the Little Arrows
How did Lehi’s people exercise faith that the spindles were pointing the way they should go? They went that way. The matter was really that simple: if you believe that the Liahona will direct you in the best way, then go that way. The problem for the people of Lehi was that it was too simple. The miracle of the Liahona was “worked by small means” and the result was that “they were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence” (Alma 37:41). Their circumstances are easy to envision. When they awoke each morning, Lehi checked the arrows. Then he pointed and the caravan departed for another day in the desert. But imagine that one morning the arrows pointed northeast and an oasis with palm trees and water was clearly visible toward the southeast. When Lehi announced the day’s direction, Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael would have complained. Loudly. Well, any oasis would look nice in what Hugh Nibley called “the worst desert in the world.” Might they not make a detour for just a few hours, and then get back on the course indicated by the arrows? And so they headed for the oasis “and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey” (Alma 37:41).
Alma wanted Helaman to understand that these events cast a shadow into our own lives.
And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual. For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land. (Alma 37:43–44)
As I walked through my house today, I counted twenty-one Bibles. I am not certain that I found them all. There are as many triple combinations (Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants in one volume). If I want to hear the words of Christ, I can open a copy of the scriptures to the verse I want as quickly as I can get a glass of water! What could be easier? This availability of the words of Christ is a miracle worked by “small means.” The question is not one of access but of willingness. Because the scriptures are so available, if we are not careful we may become “slothful,” and forget to exercise our “faith and diligence” and then “those marvelous works” will cease, and we will not progress in our journey along the iron rod that holds us on the gospel path (Alma 37:41).
Neither is the matter simply one of looking. Knowing which way the arrows point will not help us if we choose another way. We will awaken one morning in a campground near an oasis where the water has dried up and the palm trees have died, and we will no longer be sure about—we may not even be concerned about— which way we ought to go. We will have lost our confidence in the word and our access to the Spirit (Helaman 13:8).
Alma concluded with this warning:
And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise. O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them, that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever (Alma 37:45–46).
This example of heeding to God’s counsel, even if it seems small and insignificant, reminds me of the story in the Old Testament of the captain Naaman—who was smitten with leprosy. Elisha the Prophet, told him through a messenger, to “wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (2 Kings 5:10). He was furious at the thought of such a simple thing, but his servant said to him, “if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” (2 Kings 5:13). Should this not be a lesson for us all? Let us be as the Savior, and live a life filled with the small and simple things—the things that make the biggest difference. I invite you to do as many Mormons do—read the scriptures every day, and pray every day. These two small things will make the biggest difference in our lives, I know this because I do it and it has brought an immeasurable amount of happiness into my life.
This article was written by Ashley Bell, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Ashley Bell is a 22-year old wife, mother, BYU graduate, and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ashley loves to run, cook, garden, read, and most of all spend time with family and friends.