Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Beacon of Light (on an icy road)

I decided I was going to go the temple this weekend but couldn't decide if I should go Friday night or Saturday morning. The closer temple (the Odgen temple) is closed for renovation/construction for the next 2 years and so the Bountiful temple gets pretty busy. Last time my husband and I went to the Bountiful temple, we prepaid a babysitter for 4 hours - that was our date night. From the driving, and waiting an hour and 15 minutes for a session, that was all we were able to do. No dinner. We made it back just in time with empty stomachs. Remembering how packed the temple was that Friday night, really made Saturday morning seem more appealing.

Yesterday afternoon, I just had the feeling I should go that night rather than in the morning. So I made the decision. A couple hours later I found a steal of a deal on a collection of Disney Princess dresses that my daughter really wants for Christmas. The whole set (accessories included) was just $7.00. I called the lady selling it, and she happened to live in Bountiful. An extra reason to go to Bountiful that night. I didn't want someone else to come along and buy the dresses.

After dinner, about 6:00 pm, I headed off to Bountiful. As I backed out of the garage, I noticed the wet, white flakes coming down in the darkness. It was snowing! Of course, I had heard on the radio that morning that a snow storm would roll in that night. Should I still go? Yes, I didn't want snow to stop me. It seemed like every time I planned to go to the temple, an obstacle always got in the way. Last time there was a misunderstanding with our babysitter, and though it would have been easier to stay home, I scrambled to find someone at the last minute.

I pressed forward in the snowfall. As I got on the freeway, the snowfall began to increase and I could not see the lines on the road. It was difficult to see what lane I was in as the water on the ground reflected the lights above. As large trucks flew passed me splashing slush across my window, I gripped the wheel tightly and pressed forward. There were blinding spots where I couldn't read the signs and relied on my GPS to lead me to my exit. Trying to focus on what lane to be in (especially when the freeway curved) meant my eyes needed to focus on the road only.

The voice from the GPS system was very comforting and gave me the assurance and direction I needed that night. As I exited off the freeway, the blinding snow made it difficult to see where to turn when the voice told me to turn. If I couldn't see the road to turn on, I didn't feel comfortable turning. So I would continue driving straight ahead. I ended up going 10 miles out of my way on a frightening adventure that led me on some back deserted roads and over two sets of train tracks. I had no idea where I was going - but the GPS did.

I continued to grip the wheel tight and prayed out loud over and over that God could keep me safe and get me to my destination. Finally I made it to the lady's house and bought the dresses from her. She was very kind and threw in some extra free things for my daughter. I thought that was very kind of her considering her financial circumstances. With the bag of princess clothing in hand my motivation was renewed and I was happy to now be on my way to the temple. I didn't need the GPS for the temple - I knew where it was.

As I ventured east up the road and then south towards the next main road that would lead me to the temple, I noticed the blinding snow once again trying to defeat me. As I made my way to where I thought I needed to be, I went on a long journey up the mountain and soon, nothing looked familiar. After 10 minutes of driving east, I thought for sure I should have arrived at the road that leads to the temple by now. What direction was I really going? Where was I?

I pulled over to call my husband and he did not answer. I waited a few minutes and called again. I tried to look up the temple on my GPS but every key word I tried, led to no results found. I called my husband again. It was then I noticed that my gas light was on. How long had it been on? I was so focused on the terrible roads, I had completely ignored the warnings in my car. If I continued to drive up the mountain I would run out of gas quick. I had not seen a gas station in quite a while, just homes. I looked at the clock - 20 minutes until the temple would close. Again I prayed out loud that all would be okay and I could make it to the temple before it closed.

I decided to call my sister. She answered! I explained to her my predicament and asked if should give me the address for the temple so I could put it into my GPS. After reprehending me for even being out at night, in a snow storm, by myself, she looked up the address for me. I told her I could get there now and I would call her if I got stranded.

With no time to go back down the mountain looking for a gas station I head upward. I was 2 and a half miles away from the temple and the GPS told me where to go. Watching the needle drop below the empty line was tense but I told God that I needed His help so I could make it to the temple and do His work. After all I had been through I needed the temple more than ever.

Then that comforting feeling came as I glanced through the snow, through the trees and above the homes at the piercing white light that shined through the bleak snowstorm. Amongst all that darkness and snow was the most beautiful white light I had ever seen. The temple was near, I could see it!

As that warm peaceful feeling came over me that all would be okay, several quotes and scriptures flooded into my mind.

In April 2011 General Conference, President Monson said;

"Today most of us do not have to suffer great hardships in order to attend the temple. Eighty-five percent of the membership of the Church now live within 200 miles (320 km) of a temple, and for a great many of us, that distance is much shorter."

I laughed as I pondered this. Sure I lived fairly close, but I had experienced great hardships to get here. How could I feel so defeated when so many other saints live a day's travel or more away from a temple. I needed to feel blessed and grateful.

Nephi 12:2

And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it.

Matthew 5:14

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

There was this beautiful temple prophesied in ancient scripture. A light unto the world, a house of God on the mountain top. No matter how dark or treacherous the storm, the light from the temple on the hill could not be hid. God's work was shining forth for all to see. I was touched at this thought.

Once I parked at the temple I carefully made my way in 5 inch heels across a blanket of ice and snow, as the snow fell fiercely onto my face. Once inside, safe and warm - it had all been worth it. I did the work I came to do and enjoyed every peaceful moment of it. When it was time to leave, I took a deep breath and walked towards what faced me ahead. There were now inches of snow on the ground and more falling. "Wow!" I said as I looked at a sweet older lady standing by the door. "I know." she said, "Isn't it beautiful!" Once again a profound learning moment (which is what I love about going to the temple). I was seeing the snowfall as frightening, terrible, dangerous annoyance and she was standing there peacefully smiling at what she viewed to be absolutely beautiful. That changed my perspective as I walked out into the pure white blanket that awaited me.

I pondered on what I had learned that night. Sometimes life gets dark and we are blinded by so many distractions and dangers. If we listen to the voice of the Holy Ghost (our spiritual GPS) He will guide us safely to our destination. Having faith that God hears our prayers and guides us, will bring that comfort that we need when standing in the face of fear. If we trust in Him, we will not be afraid. I couldn't help but wonder if angels were following me out to my car, as I didn't slip once on the icy ground. I was serving God and I felt that He would protect me on my journey home. Again I said a prayer that He would keep me safe.

On the way home, Christmas music was playing on the radio and it suddenly made the the snowfall seem so perfect. I began to think about the names of the people I had officiated in temple work for. They had been waiting hundreds of years to have these ordinances performed for them, and I felt that they appreciated the sacrifices I made that night and were a part of helping me get to the temple safely to do their work. All was well in the spirit world and here on Earth. I now trusted in the Lord to get me home safe ... and He did.

I know that when we are in the service of the Lord He watches over us. When we pray He hears us. Also, the temple truly is a house of God and I feel His spirit so strong there. I love this work and this gospel and am grateful as it continues to bless my life. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ - amen.

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