Not Without a Shadow – Alma 37:43-45

43 And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual.
44 For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.
45 And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise.
(Alma 37:43-45)

In this chapter, Alma reminds his son Helaman of their ancestors’ experience with the compass or director which they called the Liahona. This device, which was of curious workmanship and which was given them by the Lord, worked only according to their faith and diligence. When they forgot to exercise their faith, it stopped working, and they “did not progress in their journey…or did not travel a direct course” (Alma 37:41-42).

Alma tells his son that “these things are not without a shadow.” In other words, we can learn an important principle from the experience of Lehi’s family. They were dealing with a tangible object which only worked when they exercised faith. The object served the purpose of guiding them safely through the wilderness to the promised land. For us, the Liahona represents the words of Christ, which we receive by studying the scriptures and the words of modern prophets, and through the quiet communication of the Holy Spirit to our souls.

Because the process of receiving the word of God is a quiet and nondramatic process, we might be tempted to neglect it just as Lehi’s family tended to neglect the Liahona. (See Alma 37:41.) But just as the Liahona led them safely to the promised land, so also the word of Christ will lead us safely to “a far better land of promise.”

As Elder David A. Bednar taught:

The Holy Ghost operates in our lives precisely as the Liahona did for Lehi and his family, according to our faith and diligence and heed…. The Spirit of the Lord can be our guide and will bless us with direction, instruction, and spiritual protection during our mortal journey. We invite the Holy Ghost into our lives through meaningful personal and family prayer, feasting upon the words of Christ, diligent and exacting obedience, faithfulness and honoring of covenants, and through virtue, humility, and service. And we steadfastly should avoid things that are immodest, coarse, crude, sinful, or evil that cause us to withdraw ourselves from the Holy Ghost (“That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” General Conference, April 2006).

Today, I will pay attention to the word of God. As I ponder the scriptures, I will seek for the companionship of the Holy Ghost to help me understand them better. Throughout the day, I will listen for the promptings of the Spirit and will obey them when I receive them. I will remember that the word of Christ will lead me safely on my journey just as the Liahona led the family of Lehi safely to their promised land.

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