I’ve been thinking about promised lands today.
When God appeared to Moses on Mount Horeb, he promised not only to deliver the children of Israel from captivity but also to lead them “unto a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8). So before the Israelites even began their journey, they had a destination in mind.
Lehi’s family, on the other hand, left Jerusalem without knowing where they were headed. When his son Nephi prayed to better understand their situation, the Lord promised to lead them “to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands” (1 Nephi 2:20). Honey played a role in their journey as well, but it wasn’t at the destination. It was at one of their stops along the way:
And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish.1 Nephi 17:5
The Jaredites were also led to a land which was “choice above all the lands of the earth” (Ether 1:42). But in their case, they carried the honey with them:
They did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees.Ether 2:3
Nephi used the expression “milk and honey” as a metaphor for the blessings God has in store for each of us, if we are willing to receive them. Paraphrasing a passage from Isaiah, Nephi wrote that God’s invitation is, “Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price” (2 Nephi 26:25, see Isaiah 55:1, 2 Nephi 9:50).
Elder L. Whitney Clayton offered the following assurance:
The Lord always offers each of us a promised land. You can be sure of that. The promised land—your promised land—really is there. If you follow the admonition of the Lord, you really will inhabit that rich land and harvest its blessings—milk, honey, and all.“The Promised Land,” Brigham Young University Commencement Address, 12 August 2010
But then, Elder Clayton suggested that that there might be a series of promised lands in our present and in our future, each one leading to a new set of opportunities:
While we naturally look out to the horizon and plan for and work toward a future day, the promised land is here and now. It is found in the way we live each day, confront each challenge, and move forward with faith. There is no such thing as finally arriving anywhere in life, for life extends ahead of us with a constantly receding horizon, offering both new opportunities and new trials. Thus we should seek to make every day and every hour count. It is too easy to hang our hopes on some future event or some new situation and forget what life offers us now.“The Promised Land,” Brigham Young University Commencement Address, 12 August 2010
I love that concept! There are surely promised lands in my future—opportunities which I can hope and strive for—but I can also be grateful for the promised land I inhabit here and now.
Today, I will be grateful for promised lands, present and future. I will be grateful for the opportunities and blessing which God provides along the journey, and I will strive to be a willing and grateful recipient of those blessings.