17 And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost.
(1 Nephi 12:17)
Part of the human condition is being subject to temptation. That is a reality which we all face. In the words of the hymn:
While on our journey here below,
Beneath temptation’s pow’r,
Through mists of darkness we must go,
In peril ev’ry hour (“The Iron Rod,” Hymns, 274).
As Nephi explains in the passage above, these temptations, symbolized in his father’s dream by “mists of darkness,” have three effects on us:
- They blind our eyes, so we fail to perceive things accurately.
- They harden our hearts, so that we fail to empathize, to recognize guilt, and to experience the joy of the gospel.
- They lead us away into broad roads, so that we make decisions which may be easy and popular, but which are ultimately destructive.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland reminded us that these mists of darkness affect us all, but he also taught that the power to navigate safely through them is also available to us all:
In Lehi’s dream an already difficult journey gets more difficult when a mist of darkness arises, obscuring any view of the safe but narrow path his family and others are to follow. It is imperative to note that this mist of darkness descends on all the travelers—the faithful and the determined ones (the elect, we might even say) as well as the weaker and ungrounded ones. The principal point of the story is that the successful travelers resist all distractions, including the lure of forbidden paths and jeering taunts from the vain and proud who have taken those paths. The record says that the protected “did press their way forward, continually [and, I might add, tenaciously] holding fast” to a rod of iron that runs unfailingly along the course of the true path. However dark the night or the day, the rod marks the way of that solitary, redeeming trail.
As we discussed yesterday, the rod of iron represents the word of God, which is available to us through the scriptures, through the words of modern prophets, and also through the voice of the Spirit directly to our souls.
Today, I will remember that I do not always see clearly, that my heart is not always aligned with God’s will, and that damaging options can sometimes be enticing. When I am passing through mists of darkness, I will remain safe by studying the word of God and by striving to live according to its teachings.