19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
(2 Nephi 31:19-20)
After teaching us that repentance and baptism are the gate to enter the path of discipleship and after urging us to enter through that gate, Nephi asks us what we should do next. Are we done once we’ve entered the path? Obviously not. A path is meant to be followed. But how should we follow the path? Nephi tells us to remember what brought us to this point in the first place: hearing the word of God and exercising faith in Jesus Christ. If those activities have brought us through the gate, then we need to continue to pursue them after entering the path.
It’s much easier to begin a project than to finish it, and it is simpler to enter the path of discipleship than to pursue it consistently over time. But as Nephi points out, the reason we started this journey was because we wanted to finish it, and so we need to find the determination to keep going, even in the face of obstacles and challenges. We need to maintain “a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.”
Sister Elaine S. Dalton shared the importance of visualizing the completion of the process in order to keep going in the middle:
Several years ago, my husband and I qualified to run the Boston Marathon. The night before the marathon, in an effort to visualize what it would be like to complete the race, we went to downtown Boston about a mile from the finish line. There in the quiet of the evening we laced up our running shoes and ran that last mile to the finish. As we crossed the line we held our hands victoriously high in the air and pretended that we had won the race! We imagined thousands of observers in the stands cheering for us. The next day we ran the race. Twenty-six point two miles (41.3 km) is a challenging distance. There are hills that are called “Heartbreak” for a very good reason. The entire time I was running those hills, I kept in mind that finish line and what it had felt like the night before to cross the line victorious. That vision of the finish line helped me to finish that marathon in a pelting, cold New England storm (“Press Forward and Be Steadfast,” General Conference, April 2003).
Today, I will recommit to press forward. I will remember that the same activities which have gotten me this far along the path will continue to move me forward, and I will strive to visualize my end goal: receiving the gift of eternal life from my Father in Heaven, knowing this vision will help me to overcome challenges and trials which might otherwise discourage me and halt my progress.