The Book of Mormon teaches us to “come unto Christ and be perfected in Him.” It is a comfort to know that Christ wants us to make our way back to our heavenly home. But, he does not only have a desire for us to return, but He has personally laid the pavement of the path that leads back to heaven and eternity.
Now, some believe that walking this path requires little effort because the pavement has already been laid. That because Christ has already suffered for our sins and died for us, they get to, in a sense, ‘catch a ride’ instead of walking the path. Unfortunately, that is not so.
We must all actively walk the path back to Christ. The path, as we’ve heard many times, is strait and narrow and leads to eternal life. But while the scriptures tell us this path is strait, they do not say that it will be easy.
I’d like to share a short experience. A while ago, I was driving home from school when I came upon some unexpected traffic. I wondered what had happened. As the traffic slowly moved forward, I discovered the reason.
A car had fallen into a pothole in the road and the damaged vehicle could not get out. The driver’s journey to their destination was halted.
Along our own personal paths back to Christ, we encounter many roadblocks. We may stumble on a rock, get stuck in snow, or fall in a pothole.
These roadblocks hinder and delay our journey. So it is on our spiritual journey. Sins and mistakes trip us and temporarily halt our progression towards eternity.
When we do hit a spiritual pothole, we sometimes become overwhelmed. In Psalms 38, verse 17, it reads “for I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me.” Feelings of guilt, shame, and unhappiness seem to weigh us down to the dark depths of sorrow. We recognize that our actions have been wrong and that we have slipped, gotten stuck or strayed from the strait and narrow path.
It is now, in this depth of despair, in this moment of being lost and full of sorrow, that our merciful Lord extends his emergency response unit.
This unit includes scripture study, church attendance, and earnest prayer. As we confess our sins through prayer and repent, we receive forgiveness from our father in Heaven and are pulled free from our spiritual pothole.
In the Book of Mormon, Enos is a shining example of repentance and prayer. The book of Enos verses 4 through 6 reads:
And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.
And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
And I Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.
Enos was so desperate to be free from his sins, that his very soul hungered for relief. Earlier in the chapter, Enos says that he wrestled with God for a remission of his sins. This is how we should pray. If our true desire is to be forgiven of our sins, we need to pray with real intent and full purpose of heart. Kneeling down before our Heavenly Father and asking for forgiveness is an act of faith. Enos continued on by explaining how he received a remission of his sins. Verse 8 says:
Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.
Having faith is key to repentance. We must believe that Christ lives, and believe that through Him our mistakes will be washed away. We are then relieved from that guilt, and pulled free from that nasty pothole.
But that is not all. After we are back on the path, we promise our father in Heaven that we will turn our hearts away from that original sin. That when we come upon that spiritual pothole again in our path, we will not attempt to go over it, but instead will avoid it completely.
When we promise this, The Lord knows that our hearts have been changed and that we have sincerely repented.
Although, there are times as we walk this path that we are unable to see those damaging potholes. The adversary darkens the path so we do not recognize the pothole until we are already upon it. We attend a movie that has a little more violence than we thought. Our friends dress under the standards of modesty, and we desire to fit in. You’re invited to a party where there will be alcohol. These are types of potholes that Satan tries to darken.
Sometimes, we are able to safely drive over the darkened pothole, escape the party without drinking or walk out of the movie theater. Other times, since we are unaware of the pothole, we are taken by surprise, and fall into the hole of temptation. The adversary knows that if he can catch us when we least expect it, that it is easier to fall into the temptation and sin.
Fortunately for us, our pathway doesn’t ever need to be dark.
Our Savior has provided light all along our path so that we can see those spiritual potholes. But we can’t expect our path to be lit if we aren’t willing to pay the electric bill. More and more lights are turned on as we have daily scripture study, morning and evening prayers, attend church, go to seminary, and share the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the light given to guide us through the temptations and potholes of life. When we do slip up, and fall, we always have The Lord to call upon through repentance and forgiveness.
Repentance is one of the steps to baptism. After repentance and baptism, we are made completely clean.
Our path undergoes construction and all the previous potholes are filled. So when we look back at our previous path, we are not wracked up in our guilt by seeing those potholes or sins we had previously fallen in to.
But the path ahead is still full of spiritual potholes and temptations. But we are comforted to know, that each week we have the opportunity to repent and partake of the sacrament. In doing so, we renew our baptismal covenants and become completely clean again. Our path undergoes construction every week. We don’t have to live in the past and remember our guilt. Instead, our Savior washes away those sins and guilt and fills those potholes that He remembers our sins no more. And as Moroni says in chapter 6 verse 8:
But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.
We can repent as often as we need. No one is too deep into a spiritual pothole or has hit too many to repent. Through sincere repentance, we all can be pulled free from sin time and time again because of the atonement of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ, we can have those second, and third, and fifty-seventh chances:)