Change is something we all experience. It is inevitable. How do you handle it? Do you cling to the past? Do you fear the future and the change it will bring?
There are some changes we choose and even desire. We may choose a job, a new location, to take a class, to get married, to have children. Many changes we choose because we anticipate they can make our lives better. There are other changes, however, that are forced upon us, and we plead for them to go away.
Sometimes I think God is sending me trials and afflictions to force me to change. My thinking is off kilter in this instance. God loves me. He wants the best for me. Changes that come are not punishment; rather, changes are gifts, opportunities, and acts of love meant to lead me back to the presence of God. Change is not my enemy—change is a tool of growth.
The Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Old Testament 2022, January 10-16 states: “The Garden of Eden was beautiful. But Adam and Eve needed something more than beautiful surroundings. They needed—and we all need—an opportunity to grow.”
Adam and Eve did not try to return to the Garden of Eden. They moved forward through their mortal experience toward a celestial life of eternal progress.
As we journey through mortality, our efforts are not to return to our premortal life—we are here to move ahead.
We decided in the premortal realm to follow our Father in Heaven’s plan. The plan included gaining a physical body, living by faith, choosing our Father in Heaven’s covenant path, and then to become like Him and progress towards perfection. The motion is forward; there is no returning to a previous home. It is onward towards a new home in a celestial realm. Every particle of change and growth reflects the love of God for His children. Mortality is a gift of progress.
As Sister Julie B. Beck, former Relief Society general president, taught: “The Atonement … allows for families to have eternal growth and perfection” (“Teaching the Doctrine of the Family,” Ensign, Mar. 2011, 12).
Our lives are filled with many constants: the sun will rise in the morning, gravity is definite, yet we also face many unknowns. Adam and Eve stepped into a great unknown when they were sent forth from the Garden of Eden. Despite facing many trials, Eve rejoiced, “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (Moses 5:11).
They were very brave and courageous. We are blessed to be able to learn from their examples and experiences to lessen our unknowns. They can inspire us to sing “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go” with joyful hearts:
“But if, by a still, small voice he calls
To paths that I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine:
I’ll go where you want me to go” (Hymns, no. 270).
Our mortal journeys are filled with paths that we do not know.
The poet Robert Frost gives us a vivid, visual image of standing at the crossroads of life in the poem “The Road Not Taken” (The Poetry of Robert Frost, ed. Edward Connery Lathem , 105). The choices we make at the crossroad moments of our lives can make “all the difference.”
The scriptures are replete with examples of people called to undetermined paths. Adam and Eve, Joseph and Mary, Lehi and his family, and Joseph Smith were spiritually prompted to embark on unknown paths. The pioneers who left their homelands headed to “the place where the Lord shall locate a stake of Zion” (Doctrine and Covenants 136:10).
We continue to see this in our day and in our own lives. All who are called to serve missions head down unknown paths. The future is rarely what you anticipate. Each person who enters the covenant of baptism leaves their old self buried in the water and arises to follow Christ with faith and trust. Every parent begins a new journey as they love and teach the children in their care.
We might find ourselves facing a crossroads and feeling fear of the future: a new job, marriage, pregnancy, illness, a new calling, a new ward, a new city, aging. The crossroads we face are myriad. However, our first parents Adam and Eve exemplify how to walk unknown paths. They “called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord … [and were] obedient unto the commandments of the Lord” (Moses 5:4-5). They faithfully “hearkened unto the voice of God, and called upon [their children] to repent” (Moses 6:1). They kept a book of remembrance that they did “write by the spirit of inspiration” (Moses 6:5). They taught their children “to read and write” (Moses 6:6): the first home-centered “plan to learn doctrine, strengthen faith, and foster greater personal worship” (Quentin L. Cook, “Deep and Lasting Conversion to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 2018, 8).
Strengthened by Christ
No matter our journey in life—faith and trust in God will make it bearable. As Paul taught, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Adam and Eve chose to bind themselves to Christ through covenants, and they did not walk an unknown path alone. If Lehi and his family had not taken the unknown path, they would have “perished” and not “obtained a land of promise” (2 Nephi 1:4-5). The pioneers said that despite privations they would do it again. Returned missionaries often say their missions were the best times of their lives. Their examples can inspire us as we venture down paths we do not know.
Like our first parents, we can have that baby, serve a mission, accept that calling, move to that new ward, take that job in an unknown city, face cancer, and move forward with faith on the unknown path toward eternal life.
As we remember “all things which are good cometh of God” (Moroni 7:12), we can recognize our opportunities for growth are gifts from Him. Adam and Eve are the pioneers of unknown paths. The Saviour’s great atoning sacrifice makes it possible for us to follow those unknown paths towards celestial glory.