Sign up for Meridian’s Free Newsletter, please CLICK HERE
It started as a joy ride of sorts. Not the kind where you steal a vehicle and take off on a wild race, but the kind where you intentionally drive up in the mountains for the sheer pleasure of the natural beauty and the company you’re keeping. In this case, my daughter and I were enjoying an early summer getaway to celebrate her birthday at a rustic lodge when we learned that we could rent a RZR—a side by side ATV—and do some four-wheeling on nearby trails. Sounded fun to us.
The following morning found us at the rental station where we signed waivers, had a quick orientation session to familiarize us with the network of trails, and were handed an iPad with the GPS programmed to help us find our way. The bearded man in charge informed us that our vehicle would show up as a red dot on the screen. He also recommended that we avoid a particular trail that was filled with boulders, describing the turnoff for a better trail. Rebecca and I buckled up and took off, enjoying the breeze and the perfect June weather. Before long we reached a slightly confusing crossroads, but after discussion and consulting our iPad we agreed that the left fork was the trail that had been recommended to us and we headed that way.
The first couple of miles were smooth as we sped through the pines and aspens with an intensely blue sky as a backdrop. Such a gorgeous day and such a sense of freedom to be driving an ATV again. Since it was a weekday we had the mountain pretty much to ourselves. Then came a rough patch—not boulders exactly, but huge rocks, and terrain rough enough to jar our teeth and cause our muscles to tense with every jolt. Hoping it was just a short stretch of tough road, we persisted on our journey only to find the rocky ravine stretching for miles and miles. Thirty grueling minutes later we were seriously relieved when the path smoothed out a bit, thanking our lucky stars that our trail was a loop that would lead us back to the lodge without any backtracking.
Just as we began to breathe easy again, we encountered a recently fallen tree that completely blocked our path. The vegetation was so thick in this area that we couldn’t figure out a way around our new obstacle, and nothing could have persuaded us to drive back through the rocky nightmare we had just endured. Finally my daughter spotted a narrow stretch where we were able to power our way downhill through the heavy brush and reach the path below. We checked the GPS again, curious why no red dot was showing up since we could see tall metal markers all along the trail indicating we were on the right path. Deciding to just follow the markers, we began the next leg of our journey, grateful for a fairly smooth ride. After the jarring path earlier it was a relief to speed along the curving road enjoying the fresh mountain air.
Twenty minutes later we suddenly noticed we were coming to a highway—a highway that was not part of our plan. Turning around, we retraced our path for another twenty minutes back to the fallen log, where we had seen another trail that might be the right one, though our confidence was getting shaky. After ten hopeful minutes on the new road, the path narrowed and the terrain became impassable. With deep sighs we turned around yet again and headed for the fallen tree where Rebecca and I conferred with one another. The man at the rental place had mentioned that our RZR was “street legal” up to 45 mph, so we determined to head back to the highway we’d spotted earlier and drive what we assumed would be just a mile or two back to the lodge.
After yet another twenty-minute ride we pulled into a small parking area near the highway where two men were standing near their truck. It was time to get help. When we asked the men if they knew how far we were from the lodge, they estimated at least five miles, and the speed limit on the highway was 65, so it would be illegal to drive the RZR that way. Rats. We then called the front desk at our lodge, but the guy who answered the phone seemed completely confused when we described where we were, so he was no help at all.
After my daughter ended the call, I slumped over the steering wheel, feeling almost physically ill with frustration over our predicament. We tried to deny what we already knew, but finally had to admit that the only way back to the lodge was to retrace our steps—including the rocky horror of a trail we’d experienced earlier. This was the pivotal moment in our experience. Once the decision was made to go back the way we came, we felt a slight sense of relief knowing that no matter how rough the trail ahead might feel, we knew it would lead us back to where we wanted to be.
Our third twenty-minute ride over the now familiar trail was tense as dark clouds began to move in. We were way past the point of appreciating scenery, and were anxious to finish our journey before the fast approaching thunderstorm hit. Reaching the fallen log, we could just make out the faint trail we’d blazed around it earlier. If we thought it was hard coming down, it was twice as tough four-digging our way back up that treacherous hill through the heavy brush.
As expected, the rocky terrain was just as jarring as before, made slightly worse due to our exhaustion and fried nerves. However, the trail did lead us back the right way, where we made some enlightening discoveries: at the crossroads we had encountered five minutes into our adventure we had taken a wrong turn. Without realizing it, we had been on the wrong path for most of our journey. It turned out that the tall metal markers we’d been following all along were marking a snowmobile trail, and the reason no red dot showed up on the iPad was because we were completely off the grid of trails programmed into the GPS. We never intended to get off course, but what should have been a twenty-five mile adventure turned into a fifty mile fiasco.
We nearly cried with relief as we pulled into the ATV rental lot near our lodge. The friendly man who had provided us with the GPS was also relieved that we finally found our way back. Later, as Rebecca and I scrubbed the thick layer of dust from our faces, I found myself reliving that horrible yet pivotal moment when we determined that our only option was a miserable retracing of our journey. Yet, it was that very decision that led us to where we wished to be.
I found myself thinking of another pivotal moment, one shared with me long ago by a girl I worked with in a Young Women’s group. She had been on a journey of sorts, and found herself on a path she never intended to take. It gradually became clear to her that she would never experience the blessings she most wanted unless she changed course. Though she tried for years to make course corrections on her own it was never enough. One day, as she listened to a song about faith, she arrived at her pivotal moment—the moment where she realized that she was willing to do whatever it took to make things right with God.
Yes, there was a heart-rending, rocky trail that led through the Bishop’s office—more than once—and there was rough terrain to traverse for many months as she blazed a new trail with the help of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. But from the very hour this young woman yielded her heart to God she felt relief and hope. Everything good that has come into her life in the ensuing years hinged on that moment, that life-altering decision to change course the Savior’s way, to care more about God’s opinion than what anyone else might think.
Each of us will have pivotal spiritual moments—likely, many times during our lives—moments of yielding our hearts, submitting to the will of God. Such moments may come when we choose to try to forgive, no matter how deep or damaging the offenses we have experienced. Or when we are blindsided by trials not of our own making, yet reach a point where we stop questioning, “How could you allow this to happen?” and ask instead, “What would you have me learn from this?” Or perhaps long sought-for blessings have been denied and we choose to accept a different future than we had imagined.
Submitting ourselves to God’s will go contrary to every inclination of the natural man, which is precisely why yielding is so crucial. “For the natural man is an enemy to God…unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit…” (Mosiah 3:19) The natural man seeks that which is comfortable, gives immediate rewards, and requires little or nothing of us. Bowing to this natural instinct thwarts God’s work for us. When we aren’t willing to endure the uncomfortable, when we insist on getting our way, when we’re not humble enough to bow to the wisdom of our supreme Creator, we ignore the path He is setting before us. The very act of yielding to God turns us in His direction, plants us on the road He would have us travel—the road that leads to Him.
Hopefully, when my daughter and I are next faced with a spiritually pivotal moment, we’ll remember our wild ride through the mountains and won’t waste valuable time trying to find alternative ways to get where we want to go. Hopefully, in the future we won’t hesitate to submit our will to the Heavenly Father who can best help us when we yield our hearts to Him.