Sunday, August 10, 2008

Compass Course

     Yesterday while I was on vacation, my dad called me. He said some words I was surprised to hear,
"Hey Beth, the bishop just called." I just sat there thinking ,
"That's strange, I wonder what for?" So I thought my questions out loud over the phone,
"Why dad?"
"He wants you to give a talk in sacrament meeting tomorrow." I started feeling a little nervous. I replied to my dad's comment,
"Tomorrow? He wants me to write and be ready for a talk tomorrow? Wow, that's not much notice."
"That's what he said, he wants you to talk about youth conference. And about the orienteering compass course you went on, and how that relates to church and things in general." Compasses! My talk was on compasses, and I was a little confused on where I could even start. Not to mention I was on vacation all day long! I was getting home from vacation around three o'clock, and then I had two birthday parties to go to! Needless to say, my feelings of "not enough time" and dread for this talk dramatically increased when I got home at 9:00 P.M.! Luckily it seemed to turn out alright. People seemed to like it well, so I'll publish it in case you want to read it! If you're not religious, it's okay if you don't read it! It's just that this blog is like my journal, and I want to remember all the talks I give.

     Good morning! Today I was asked to give a talk relating to an orienteering course that we conquered at youth conference this past week. I will also talk on how we are supposed to use life’s compasses.

     I’m sure you’ve all heard common quotes on life such as “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” Or sillier ones like “Life is like an onion: You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.” Or, “Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it depends on what you put into it.”

      But, recently, I have come to discover that life is also like a compass course, you have to make many decisions as you try to go in the direction that you think you want to go; and when you reach that destination, sometimes you discover that the place you’ve finally reached is yet another fork in the road! Life is a place of agency where you choose your own course and have to make many different and sometimes difficult decisions.

     Life is like a road, and you are the driver of your own self-propelled vehicle. You decide where you’re going and how fast you are going to get there.

     But if we are in charge of our own lives, then why do we need compasses? What is the purpose of a little magnetic compass with four different directions? Which way are we supposed to go? And better yet, which way are we trying to go?

     Sometimes a compass can be confusing, when you are continually being told to go north by the rest of the world because “everyone’s doing it,” and as you try to follow others instead of your own path, you may find yourself running into a tree, or running off of a cliff both physically and spiritually. There are many people that will try to direct and guide you throughout your trail called, “life,” and there are only a few directions you can take to follow the right path to the destination that you truly want to end up.

     A simple song that we have been singing since we were primary children, and continue to sing today, is “Choose the Right.” It may sound like a simple enough song as you quietly and reverently sing it, but if you listen to the actual words, they mean much more than we realize.

     “Choose the right when a choice is placed before you. In the right the Holy Spirit guides;” What does the song mean by “In the right the holy spirit guides?” It means that the Holy Spirit is always right! He will always try to lead you down the right and happy path. Despite what others may say, the Holy Ghost will guide you in the right direction every time.

     The song then continues: “And its light is forever shining over you”. As long as you are choosing the right and trying your hardest to point your compass towards Him, you will feel his light shining in yourself and those you surround yourself with.

      And the first verse finishes with, “When in the right your heart confides…” all you have to do is try to do the right thing! Let your heart confide in things that are good!
“Choose the right! There is peace in righteous doing.” What is the definition for peace? I found several simple descriptions that all sound pretty good to me.
“Freedom from war.”
“Tranquility,” meaning a calm and quiet state.
“Mental Calm,” with no anxiety.
“And Law and Order,” the absence of violence; a freedom from disturbances. That choosing the right path is starting to sound good now, huh? But the song isn’t finished yet.

     “Choose the right! There’s safety for the soul.” Being safe is being “unharmed” and “undamaged,” our soul is not our physical body. Our soul is what’s left of us after we die. It’s the essence of our nature, and our distinctive character without a body. That means that if we choose the right, we will be safe from damage and harm, but not just in this life, forever!

     Now, we know all the great things we can be blessed with if we choose to follow the “right” path. But, what exactly is our goal? The goal of choosing the right, isn’t always being right. Yet again, the song tells you what you can do, “Choose the Right” finally tells us where our compass should be pointed and magnetized to. “Choose the right in all labors you’re pursuing; Let God and heaven be your goal.”

     I really enjoyed youth conference this year. It had a much more personal level with just our ward there. We had good activities which included swimming in an ice cold lake, orienteering up and over steep hills, and ending in one of the most spiritual experiences that I’ve ever had in my life. I was really grateful for the opportunity to go, and I thank the leaders for planning and putting together such fun activities.