I was raised on the windswept prairies of Alberta; a place where the blue sky and golden wheat fields touch the Rocky Mountains and continue on through jaw-dropping scenery. My home province is the gateway to both the extraordinary Glacier National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park—an area of the world that has been aptly named “God’s Country”. As one writer observed:
Tumbling mountains stretch toward the sky, then slope gracefully toward the earth and toward sparkling lakes and streams at their bases. The ruby reds, sapphire blues, golds and emeralds of wildflowers are so vibrant and piercing that the sprawling valleys may at first appear dotted with jewels.
As wildfires ravaged our beautiful national parks this summer, my thoughts turned daily to the fires near the Going-to-the-Sun Road. It’s one of the main attractions: a spectacular 52-mile road which begins at the bottom of lush valleys and winds its way up steep cliffs to the Logan Pass, crossing the Continental Divide and continuing onto the wildflower-dotted mountaintops. The steep and narrow road climbs gradually, with stop-offs along the way to soak up the gorgeous scenery. Here, visitors are constantly rewarded with world-renowned scenery until they finally reach the top and see Heaven’s Peak rising above the St. Mary Valley.
I’ve always loved the name of the road and mountains in this area because they are so deeply symbolic. They’re a lot like our spiritual journey in the gospel and life. While the climb may be difficult (and purposefully narrow) on the “Going-to-the-Son” road, there are beautiful vistas and places to catch our breath as we push onward towards Heaven’s Peak. I was recently reminded about this as I read these words from President Henry B. Eyring:
The Lord is anxious to lead us to the safety of higher ground, away from the path of physical and spiritual danger. His upward path will require us to climb. … If you are on the right path, it will always be uphill. And as the world becomes darker and more dangerous, we must keep climbing. It will be our choice whether or not to move up or to stay where we are. But the Lord will invite and guide us upward by the direction of the Holy Ghost, which He sends to His leaders and to His people who will receive it. (Link)
Lately, I’ve talked to many faithful members of the Church who have said they’ve felt under attack by the adversary, dismayed or confused about current social issues, or concerned about the chaos and destruction that seems to be increasing as it sweeps the earth. There is a deep hunger to hear reassuring words from prophets and apostles. There is an almost tangible push to move to higher spiritual ground.
In a few days, we’ll have the sacred privilege of watching General Conference and hearing the voice of the Lord through His trusted and chosen servants. He is anxious for us to climb with Him to higher spiritual ground. He uses General Conference to help members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stay focused and firmly placed on the straight and narrow Going-to-the-Son road that leads to the final destination: Heaven’s Peak.
This deep spiritual pull many of us are feeling is not by chance; it is part of the urgent call to the faithful to climb higher and be better, as described by Elder Kim B. Clark here:
Whatever level of spirituality we now enjoy in our lives; whatever degree of faith in Jesus Christ we now have; whatever strength of commitment and consecration, whatever degree of obedience or hope or charity is ours; whatever level of professional skill and ability we may have obtained, it will not be sufficient for the work that lies ahead.
Brothers and sisters, you and I need to be much better than we are now. The scriptures teach us that the world is now and will be in commotion. Wickedness and darkness will increase. Yet in that darkening world there will be increased divine light. The Lord Jesus Christ has a great work for us to do … It is a greater work than we have ever done before. The Lord is working in power to strengthen teaching and learning in His true and living Church. He is hastening His work, and He is preparing the earth and His kingdom and us for His return.
… This is the Lord’s pattern: He is raising up, building up, and preparing His people and His Church. (Link)
I think this is why so many are feeling an almost tangible, spiritual hunger for the next two General Conference weekends. The added spiritual boost and encouragement are absolutely necessary to do just what the Lord is challenging us to do. We’re being asked to raise our sights. To climb higher and to be better than we have ever been.
So, throughout the next few weeks, we’ll listen to inspired talks and music and we’ll be better for it. If we are spiritually prepared to hear the word of the Lord, we will be given specific instructions to help us and our loved ones climb to higher ground on the “Going to the Son” road towards Heaven’s Peak.
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