In the “Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Family Home Evening” of the Come, Follow Me resources for the week of December 2-8, 2019, the following family home evening activity is suggested: “To help your family ponder John’s teachings, gather in a dark room and let family members experience the difference between walking ‘in darkness’ and walking ‘in the light’” (1 John 2:8-11).
Learning from a Personal Story
The most dramatic experience I ever had of physically walking at night occurred during an “escape and evasion” exercise for the U. S. Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). Along with nearly 200 other ROTC cadets, I was wandering the risky topography of Fort Dugway Proving Grounds. We were trying to avoid capture and find a helicopter pick-up site. Earlier in the day, we had heard rumours that safety could be found by reaching a blinking red light on a distant hill. My trek started shortly after midnight, allowing me to see only one or two steps ahead. After going up a hill for approximately half an hour, I could see no ground in front of me. I was carrying two stones for protection, so I threw one. I could not hear it hit the ground. I threw my second rock. Again, there was silence. I decided that I would backtrack, making sure I could see at least where my next step would be. After working my way down the hill, I was able to look up and see that I had been standing on the edge of a sharp cliff with at least a 20-meter drop. If I had taken one step too many, I could have been seriously hurt. When walking in darkness, it is wise to take things a step at a time.
As I continued my trek toward the distant blinking red light, I discerned night gradually turn into morning. Darkness was steadily replaced by the glimmerings and then the radiance of morning. Eventually, the sun brightly dawned over the surrounding hills.
With the increasing light, I could see that I was no longer wandering alone and joined up with a small number of fellow cadets. At around 9:00 a.m., we reached the blinking beacon zone, and we were flown back to our campsite. Helicopters, however, flew over rough terrain all morning. Thankfully, light made it possible to rescue all the cadets who had lost their way. Daylight allowed people to walk more safely in a variety of directions, but only a few of us had successfully traversed the 30 kilometers to the designated pick-up area. The light of day did not guarantee successful completion of our journey. In addition to perseverance and stamina, we needed accurate information about where safety and help could be found.
A Scriptural Lesson about Walking in Darkness
Sometimes we can learn important lessons while walking in darkness. For example, after Alma the Elder delivered those who were baptized in the waters of Mormon out of “the hands of the people of king Noah,” they were subsequently “brought into bondage by the hands of the Lamanites” (Alma 5:4-5).
They were forced into brutal slavery and even forbidden to “raise their voices” in prayer; nevertheless, they “did pour out their hearts to [God]; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts” (Mosiah 24:12). They were not immediately rescued from their bondage; instead, God promised to “ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, …that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions” (Mosiah 24:14). As Alma the Younger later explained, “Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word” (Alma 5:7). When we do not know how to take one more step, our faith in Christ and His gospel can enlighten our hearts and minds about how to proceed and endure.
A Scriptural Lesson about Walking in the Light
When contemplating an example of walking in the light, the scriptural image that immediately came to my mind was that of the Prophet Enos. His father Jacob had taught him to read and write, and his parents had instructed him “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Enos 1:1). Yet he states that he still had to “wrestle… before God, before I received a remission of my sins” (Enos 1:2). While hunting in the forest, he explains, “my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul” (Enos 1:4).
After praying all day, his answer came in the darkness of night: “Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed” (Enos 1:5). Illuminating personal revelation can be received in either day or night. The reason is that Jesus Christ through His infinite atoning sacrifice is the light to guide us throughout our lives.
Seeking the Spirit of Revelation Today
These scriptural examples inspire me to seek the continuing spirit of revelation. Elder David A. Bednar explains how to do this in the following apostolic blessing:
“As you appropriately seek for and apply unto the spirit of revelation, I promise you will ‘walk in the light of the Lord’ (Isaiah 2:5; 2 Nephi 12:5). Sometimes the spirit of revelation will operate immediately and intensely, other times subtly and gradually, and often so delicately you may not even consciously recognize it. But regardless of the pattern whereby this blessing is received, the light it provides will illuminate and enlarge your soul, enlighten your understanding (see Alma 5:7; 32:28), and direct and protect you and your family” (“The Spirit of Revelation,” Ensign, May 2011).