I had the fun opportunity on Friday night to go camping with my family and members of our church. We enjoyed a nice potluck dinner and we built a campfire and socialized into the night. As the night went on I realized something- I needed to use the bathroom! There was a port-a-potty nearby, and I knew of its general location, but it was so dark out that I couldn't tell exactly where it was located. I took my lantern and headed off through the woods into the night.
It was very difficult to tell, with the short beam of light provided by my lantern, exactly which way to go. After walking in the right general direction, eventually my lantern caught the blue plastic exterior of the outhouse in its glow, and I could then correct my course to the way I needed to go. Those first few moments, however, were very disconcerting as I made my way into the darkness without really knowing where I was going.
When I was finished, I came out and I could see the campfire in the distance and the many lanterns of my friends gathered around it. I used my lantern to light the path of my feet, but I knew exactly where I was headed, and the light of the campfire illuminated any large obstacles, such as trees, that blocked my path. After my trip out to the restroom, it was such a difference walking toward something I could clearly see, and to know that there was safety there in the gathering of lights. I didn't feel anxious or lost- I knew exactly where I was going and even though my path wasn't entirely illuminated, it was still clear.
I couldn't help but compare this to our spiritual selves. In the book of John, the Savior invoked this beautiful prayer upon his apostles:
“And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
“I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” (John 17:11, 14–15.)
Christ prayed that His believers "may be one" and that the Lord "shouldest keep [us] from the evil." I believe that the Lord is asking us to, quite simply, stick together. There is darkness all around us, and if we venture off on our own, like I did, and leave the light of the other followers of Christ, we put ourselves in a place of anxiety, confusion, and possibly danger.
This is not to say that we shouldn't associate with those of different faiths, or that we should avoid missionary opportunities. I think we should reach out as much as possible, but we should always be sure to keep the light of others close by us.
D&C 87:8 reads, "Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come." Sharon G. Larsen said of this scripture,
"Standing in holy places is all about being in good company, whether you are alone or with others. It’s being where the Holy Ghost is our companion—alone or in a crowd. When we determine within ourselves that we will control our thoughts and our actions and be the best we can possibly be, the best of life will come to us."
The key to "staying with the light", as I titled this post, is to always keep the Holy Ghost as our companion, and to be with others who will do the same. As soon as you find yourself in a certain place or with certain people that are making it difficult to keep the good feelings of the Holy Spirit, you have strayed from the warmth and safety of the light, and it's time to turn around and look for the campfire again.
For me, my campfire is my home, my family, my church congregation, and my friends in the gospel who are wonderful examples to me. I know that when I nurture these relationships that I am building up my campfire to be a beacon to me and to others who might be wandering in the dark.
I encourage you to not rely solely on the light of your own lantern, but to find others and build up your own campfire of safety. There is strength and safety in numbers, along with the peace and joy of having a home in the gospel. Come out of the dark and into the light!
To find out more about what I believe as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please visit www.mormon.org.