How did we ever find our way before GPS? Just like having a cell phone in an emergency, we all marvel that we ever got along without it.
A Global Positioning System in your car or cell phone can direct you to any destination you plug into it, as long as there’s a clear line of sight to the satellites. Yes, incredibly, the directions you need come from outer space.
Even more incredibly, it’s free.
The US created it and maintains it, after more than 20 years of research, having launched GPS in 1995. Just to give credit where it’s due, the inventors are Ivan A. Getting, Roger L. Easton, and Bradford Parkinson. Good job, guys. And today we rely on a calm, familiar voice to tell us to turn at the end of the road, or exit the freeway in half a mile.
This same voice catches us when we veer off-track, as well. We’ve all heard the patient, “Recalculating” or “Return to the designated route” when we disobey the instructions. Some of us have even been urged to make a U-Turn at the next opportunity, since we are going exactly the wrong way.
But did you know there’s a GPS in your head? It’s a little older than the one we’ve used for 20 years. The one in your head has been around since the dawn of time (even longer, actually) and directs us not to some unfamiliar address, but back home again.
Of course you know I’m talking about the Holy Ghost. Once baptized, we are given the gift of his companionship, unless we drive it away. And he can caution us and alert us to spiritual danger, even prompt us to make a U-turn from time to time. He does much more than direct our path, of course, but one of his functions is to warn us and guide us as we make the treacherous journey back to Christ and our Father in Heaven.
The question is, do we listen? Just as we’re able to ignore or turn off our electronic GPS, many of us fail to heed the directions given us by this third member of the Godhead. And, as when we travel, sometimes we get headstrong, a little too sure of ourselves, a little too reckless. We take risks and chances. While this stubbornness could cost you a bit of time on a road trip, it can cost far more in the path back home again.
So how can we tune in and listen? First, we should commit to our destination, and decide where we want to end up. That simple act of taking a stand, and saying, “I want the Celestial Kingdom” is huge. It means you’re going to do all you can to qualify, and you’re ready to wear the necessary armor.
Next, we need to know what the requirements are. What are the ordinances? What’s the lifestyle I need to embrace? What steps lead where I want to go? What are the pitfalls I need to watch out for? And what must I refuse to accept—what temptations must I avoid, to get there?
Next, we need to tune in the correct channel. We can’t listen for clear promptings from the Holy Ghost if we’re too hasty, too busy, too preoccupied with competing messages. Even worse, we won’t hear his counsel if we’re openly disobeying commandments and neglecting to do what we know is right. Prayer, scripture study, following modern prophetic counsel, and service to others all help fine-tune our receiver so we can discern spiritual guidance.
And then we need to heed his words. When we feel a prompting to go back, turn another way, or stop in our tracks, we need to show willingness to be led by the Spirit, to submit to what the Lord wants, instead of only what we can see from our mortal vantage point. It takes humility, courage, and faith. But the more we follow spiritual directives, the more frequent we find that communication, and the surer will be our footing.
Like GPS for driving a car, our inner GPS can span outer space, is free of charge, and can provide amazing assistance, if we listen. But we’ve all been misdirected from time to time by electronic devices that lead us to empty fields and undeveloped roads. That’s a striking difference between GPS and the Holy Ghost— that latter is perfectly accurate. Always. You can follow him with every assurance that you’re on the right track. You just have to be willing to “return to the designated route” from time to time. But he will never, ever lead you astray.
Watch the music video of Hilton’s song, What Makes a Woman, from her new musical, The Best Medicine (with music by Jerry Williams). Her books are available on her website, here. Hilton currently serves as a Relief Society President.