I was at a crossroads and didn't know what to do. It had been approaching now for many weeks, and the time to make an important decision was upon me. I needed to decide which direction to take.
Fortunately, I had an opportunity to attend the nearest temple. I had prepared myself by beginning a fast the evening of the day before I was to leave. Wearing the crisp clean suit I had discovered hanging in my closet just days before, I felt a spiritual confidence I had not felt in a long time. Indeed, it had been awhile since I had fasted and even longer since I'd attended the temple. Now, I was doing both at the same time.
According to Google Maps, the route to the Bismarck North Dakota Temple from my house in West Fargo, N.D., stretches 193 miles, 190 of which was interstate, the great majority of that being straight and flat. For one who grew up in the rolling green hills of Pennsylvania, where the road leads anywhere but straight ahead, this was a recipe for boredom.
Fortunately I was prepared. For my quest that day I had brought with me a recording of the most recent general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was excited as I set out in the early afternoon for the long drive.
One of the talks, it became clear early in the drive, was the one I needed to focus on. It was a talk given by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve and was titled, "How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life." Desiring to soak up as much doctrine as possible prior to praying in the temple, I replayed the talk time and again, finally finishing as I pulled into the parking lot.
I cut the engine, grabbed my temple bag and shut the rust encrusted door of my old black SUV. I stepped onto the sidewalk surrounding the small white beautiful temple and walked the short distance from my car to the entrance.
Just as planned, I had arrived shortly after the first endowment session began. The next one would not begin until the first one ended, providing me a luxury of time. Upon changing and in the privacy of my locker cubicle, I began to reread Elder Scott's talk.
Near the beginning of his talk he says:
"When I am faced with a very difficult matter, this is how I try to understand what to do. I fast. I pray to find and understand scriptures that will be helpful. That process is cyclical. I start reading a passage of scripture; I ponder what the verse means and pray for inspiration. I then ponder and pray to know if I have captured all the Lord wants me to do. Often more impressions come with increased understanding of doctrine. I have found that pattern to be a good way to learn from the scriptures."
Upon reading this entry, I stopped and began to act on Elder Scott's counsel. I prayed to find and understand scriptures that would be helpful in determining what course I should take with my looming decision. As I opened the scriptures for guidance, I found myself reading something that seemed to have nothing to do with what I was praying for. Next, I prayed to know if I needed to take action on the scripture I was reading. The answer was in the affirmative. Still somewhat puzzled, I prayed for an understanding of how to apply the scripture, upon which more knowledge was received.
At this point it was clear to me that the initial concern that I had taken to the Lord was not really a concern of his. And while I was grateful — even very humbled — for an answer to my prayer, my concern went from "What shall I do?" to "How should I address this?" In comparison, my new challenge was mountainous.
Fortunately, Elder Scott had more words of counsel, as well as much needed encouragement. He said:
"The scriptures give eloquent confirmation of how truth, consistently lived, opens the door to inspiration to know what to do and, where needed, to have personal capacities enhanced by divine power."
If there was ever any help needed, I thought to myself, I needed it and now.
Elder Scott then said: "The scriptures depict how an individual's capacity to conquer difficulty, doubt, and seemingly inusurmountable challenges is strengthened by the Lord in time of need. As you ponder such examples, there will come a quiet confirmation through the Holy Spirit that their experiences are true. You will come to know that similar help is available to you."
He continued: "I have seen individuals encountering challenges who knew what to do when it was beyond their own experience because they trusted in the Lord and knew that He would guide them to solutions that were urgently required."
He also had a much needed final word of encouragement:
"As you continue to live righteously, you will always be prompted to know what to do. Sometimes the discovery of what action to take may require significant effort and trust on your part. Yet you will be prompted to know what to do as you meet the conditions for such divine guidance in your life, namely, obedience to the commandments of the Lord, trust in His divine plan of happiness, and the avoidance of anything that is contrary to it."
The clock ticking, I put away my scriptures and readied myself for the endowment session, but not without first giving thanks for having received the urgently needed inspiration of the Lord.
I now have a new challenge. One that seems infinitely harder to deal with than the one I initially prayed about. Indeed, it is a daily — sometimes even moment by moment — struggle.
But I have more peace today than I did before because I now have a testimony of a pattern whereby I may receive revelation. I'm thankful to my Heavenly Father for providing prophets and apostles and I know that by following their counsel one will draw closer to the one who has sent them.