Recently my husband and I had a grand adventure in Europe. We peddled through Salzburg with the ‘Sound of Music’ floating through the air, climbed the steep path to a fairy tale castle, explored mid-evil cities, enjoyed Mozart concerts, and stood in awe of the Austrian Alps. We missed trains, caught the wrong trains, and got off a train at the wrong stop. An estimated two-and-a-half-hour drive became a six hour guessing game of “Where in the world are we????”. We ate the best Wiener Schnitzel in Vienna, tasted delicious Czech dishes in Prague, and tried every pastry we could find in Bavaria. We met wonderful people, some more indifferent, and one very impatient train attendant. We walked for miles and miles a day exploring little villages, picturesque countryside’s, and majestic old cathedrals. We rode Segway’s over cobblestone streets, watched white stallions perform, and shopped. We got up in the morning when we pleased and dropped into bed at night when we wanted. It was the vacation, and adventure, of a lifetime.
There was much planning needed in advance of our adventure. But when we were finally there structure, for the most part, was thrown out the window. We were there to enjoy ourselves, try everything, and see it all. And we did.
Adventure vs Quest
A few Sunday’s ago a message was delivered in my Sacrament Meeting that struck a chord with me. The speaker asked us to consider these two questions, and I now ask you to do the same….
What is the difference between an adventure and a quest?
Which of those adjectives best describes how you live your life?
26.2 and 13.1
My husband and I once trained to run a long distance race – he a marathon, me a half. We followed strict training programs, including diet and exercises regimens. We gave up late night movie watching for early morning workouts. We encouraged each other through sore legs, past bowls of longed for ice cream, and up long hills. We read articles by other successful runners, sought advice from past racers, and made our goals public so we would have accountability. It was several months of concerted constant effort to prepare ourselves to reach our goal distances. But when the races came, we finished. And in fact have run a few more in the years since.
This experience I would put in the quest category. It was much more than an adventure. It was an experience that had a deep meaning for us both. We were willing to sacrifice to achieve the goal. It became almost spiritual in nature. Mind over body. When that first race was done I cried, right there at the finish line. The satisfaction was so deep, and I had gained a greater level of self-confidence and self-respect. (Yes, that’s me above, just before I reached the finish line of my first half-marathon in 2007.)
What is the purpose of life?
Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going? – questions asked by all people of all times. Your answers to these spiritual questions will help you decide how you will live your life –
- as an adventure: filled with fun, trying new things, enjoying your time, and going with the flow,
- or as a quest: focused, disciplined, structured, finding joy in your progress, being undeterred.
One is exciting, the other satisfying. One is spontaneous, the other measured. One is more care-free, the other more constrained.
The prophet Alma taught very clear doctrine concerning the importance of this earthly life when he declared:
“And we see that death comes upon mankind….nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the resurrection of the dead.” 
With the balance of eternity dependent on the sum of our lives – judged only against ourselves and not compared to others – perhaps we should consider more seriously how we use our time and what we choose to focus our efforts on, physically and spiritually.
The Rod, the Mists, and the Tree
Lehi shared his vision of the tree of life with his family, and recorded it for us in his sacred record found in The Book of Mormon; 1 Nephi 8. There he tells us of the great love of God expressed as white fruit, delicious and satisfying, hanging from a tree. A path leads directly to this tree and a rod along its side, past a great and spacious building filled with mockers, and beside a deep gulf and a river of filthy water.
He sees “numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led to the tree.”  During his vision Lehi mentions three separate groups and their experiences along the path.
One group begins on the path but apparently does not use the rod as their guide. When mists of darkness arise they lose their way and are lost. 
The second group begins. They make their way forward “clinging” to the rod, but after they reach the tree and taste it’s fruit they turn away from it, affected by the mocking crowd, and are lost, adventuring off on other forbidden paths. 
Thirdly he mentions “other groups” finding the path, catching hold of the rod of iron, and
“pressing forward…continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.” 
Everyone seems to begin the path with the same intention – reaching the tree. But for some it becomes more than an adventure, it becomes a quest. They will not give up, give in, or be dissuaded. They continually hold fast to “the word of God”. 
I appreciate the words Lehi uses as he describes these questers reaching the tree,
“they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.”
Did they fall down because they were humble and grateful? Perhaps. Did they fall down because they were exhausted from the push and press, from the taunts, and trails of the mists? Possibly. Did they fall down overcome with emotion at the achievement of their quest? Probably. Now, finally at the tree, they ‘partook of’ not just ‘tasted’ the white fruit – a symbol of the love of God. They must have lain there with hearts full – satisfied and sanctified.
Adventure or Quest?
As we walk our individual paths, and the straight and narrow path we each must take to eternal life, how do we view our journey? Is this life for you, for me, an adventure or a quest? Are we here just to enjoy and experience? Or do we live to fulfill our appointed purpose, make and keep covenants, and reach our divine potential as “joint heirs” of God with Christ?  A physical quest takes planning, perseverance, and courage. A spiritual quest will require the same.
Here’s to a spiritual quest lived life, and having wonderful temporal adventures along the way.
 Alma 12:24
 1 Nephi 8:21
 1 Nephi 8:23
 1 Nephi 8:24-28
 1 Nephi 8:30
 1 Nephi 11:25
 Romans 8:16-17
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