After losing the first 116 pages of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was devastated. “All is lost!” he exclaimed to his family. “What shall I do?” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, page 131).
Shortly after, the Lord reassured him that His work would continue to move forward. God emphasized this point by saying that His “course is one eternal round” (Doctrine and Covenants 3:2).
The prophet Nephi used this same phrase to explain why he knew that God would answer his prayers. “He that diligently seeketh shall find,” he wrote, “and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round” (1 Nephi 10:19).
In other words, God is unchanging, and He is therefore reliable. If He answered prayers before, He will answer them again. You can count on Him being consistent.
Alma pointed out the corollary of this concept: If God is consistent, then we can consistently receive blessings from Him by consistently following His guidance. He praised the people in the city of Gideon for walking in “the paths of righteousness,” and reassured them that God will never “vary from that which he hath said…therefore, his course is one eternal round” (Alma 7:19-20).
He used the same phrase as he encouraged his son Helaman to faithfully maintain and preserve the sacred record of their people (Alma 37:12-14).
In 2017, when Brother Douglas D. Holmes was serving as a counselor in the General Sunday School Presidency, he explained how this imagery can help us understand our path of progression:
The Lord describes His course as “one eternal round,” but I don’t think He intends for us to just go around in circles. I have found it helpful to visualize this journey not as a linear path but as a continuing upward cycle—a spiral staircase, if you will. This image came to me most clearly when I first saw the spiral staircase in the Nauvoo Temple. This image gives me hope and perspective that I can make the journey to come unto Christ by diligently and repeatedly applying His doctrine in my life. Step by step and degree by degree I can continue in the course of the Lord—His eternal round—and His grace can carry me upward.(“The Doctrine of Christ: Our Daily Walk,” Brigham Young University Devotional Address, 17 January 2017
This concept gives meaning to the seemingly repetitive duties of discipleship. For example, we pray and listen for answers every day because this activity enables us to “grow into the principle of revelation” (President Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” General Conference, April 2018). WE p
We partake of the sacrament each Sunday, not to reset our spiritual state to where we were at baptism, but to receive “the grace we need to press forward and progress…toward our eternal destiny” (Elder David A. Bednar, “Always Retain a Remission of Your Sins,” General Conference, April 2016).
And we attend the temple as regularly as possible because we know that “every time you worthily serve and worship in the temple, you leave armed with God’s power” (President Russell M. Nelson, “Spiritual Treasures,” October 2019).
Today, I will remember the symbolism of God’s course being “one eternal round.” I will recommit to consistent participation in activities which enable me to access His power. I will remember that the seemingly repetitive duties of discipleship are actually propelling me forward—helping me to advance and achieve my full potential.