Monday, June 9, 2008


by Vickey Pahnke , songwiter, author, CES speaker

Have you ever felt like life is an obstacle course? Is it sometimes tricky to figure out which way to go or how to avoid certain difficulties? Every person's situation is unique, but certain assistance is absolutely available to guide us through the tough stuff. As we allow the Savior to help us, we can rise above this murky, dimly lit world, Immersing ourselves in the scriptures can transport us, at least momentarily, out of our difficulties, our hurts. We can feel the protective influence of the Holy Ghost to safeguard against unrighteous, dangerous influences or situations. It is a sure way to be lifted to a higher place where we may feel more peaceful, more positively directed. Christ heals broken hearts and tends burdened souls. His love radiates from the words of the scriptures. The more familiar we become with his teachings, the more prepared we are to deal with the curves thrown at us. As We read, it's not that the obstacle course of life becomes easier; but -we become better at listening for divine direction, learning to steer clear of detours that would throw us off course. Our prayerftil relationship with Father becomes more rewarding. We get better at asking for what we need and listening for what He would have us know.

I know of a ward that maybe is much like your own. It has a large youth group. Jenni, a beautiful young woman, is a member of this ward. She loves the gospel, loves to get involved in activities with her friends, and is pretty much like you and me. Except that :fermi is blind. There are sometimes activities planned in which she cannot participate, and others that make her feel awkward or left out.

On one occasion the young women planned a special activity with their fathers. In preparation, an obstacle course was set tip in the cultural hall complete with tires, sawhorses, and so on. The object would be for the girls, beginning at one end of the hall, to make it to their fathers at the other end. One by one, each receiving instruction from ha dad, they would move through this course. The equalizing factor was that each girl would be blindfolded.. Semi needn't feel left out, and it would be fun for all participating.

It must have been a hilarious night. Fathers were getting frustrated in voicing their directions, daughters were getting agitated and falling all over the place. On the sidelines the others were shouting instructions and contradicting one another. Laughter filled the hall. Not one girl was getting through that course.

Jenni was last up. A quiet came over the hall as she stood ready for her turn The other girls had whipped off their blindfolds. Jenni would not have the luxury of seeing this room when the games were over. Her father quietiv said, " Jenni, listen to me. Don't pay attention. to what the others say; just listen to my voice. I will guide you through."

Jenni. began her trip. Among those watching, eyes widened in amazement as she carefully maneuvered. Once or twice she stopped to get her bearings or to have her dad repeat his instructions, before she moved forward. Jaws dropped as Jenni continued-never falling, never losing her composure. In time she made it to the finish line and into the arms of her father, who swung her around as the others clapped and encircled the "winners."

"No way!" "Incredible!" The girls crowded around Jenni, amazed at how easily she had gotten through the course that they had failed to navigate. "How did you do it?"

"It was easy, " Jenni said. "I just listened to my father's voice and did what he told me to do."

Jenni taught a powerful lesson that night. This life is a real obstacle course. There are unexpected turns and pitfalls everywhere. People on the sidelines often shout instructions, many times simultaneously giving different suggestions. It gets confusing. It is treacherous. And it is easy to fall.

Jenni gave us the advice we need. At the end of this life's course our Father in Heaven waits with outstretched arms. We must remember to listen to this voice and do what he tells us to do. Where are the words He would have us learn? Right there in the scriptures. The scriptures can give us "Needed rocklike steadiness, especially in this latter-day, topsy-turvy world in which 'all things are in commotion.'" (Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, That Ye May Believe, p. 185.) (See D&C 45:26, 88:91 for scriptural reference).

There are loved ones to assist us and reinforce gospel truths. There are loving and helpful leaders and friends. But listening to the voices around us-even the most helpful ones-cannot, by itself, ensure our safety, Turning to our Father and tuning in to His counsel is a very personal thing. Delving into the scriptures focuses us, illuminating our minds and strengthening our souls. It allows us to get closer to the Savior and to our Father in Heaven.

We notice that our prayers are more personal and meaningful. We are prepared to accept His will. We more easily hear and understand His directions. And following His loving instructions, we can make it back home.

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