Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Liahona

Today was one of those days when I totally looked forward to going to church.  On days like these, I hear inspiration everywhere.  I love the talks.  I love the music.  I love the lessons.  I'm sure it goes back to that "attitude" thing that President Monson talked about in the First Presidency message this month.  Or it might have been because the choir was singing Abide With Me in Sacrament and I happen to totally love that song.  Whatever the reason, I had a great attitude today and there were little floods of useful and inspiring things everywhere...especially in Gospel Doctrine.

The lesson today was on 1 Ne 16-17 Both of those chapters are meaty and it would have been possible to base entire sermons on a million different things from either chapter.  But we spent a lot of time talking about the Liahona.  
1 Ne 16:10 "And it came to pass that as my father arose in the morning, and went forth to the tent door, to his great astonishment, he beheld upon the ground a ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass.  And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness."  
Do you know how many times I've read 1 Nephi?  A lot...probably more than any other book in the Book of Mormon.  And do you know how many times I've read the account of Lehi and his family journeying in the wilderness and finding a Liahona that provided direction for them?  A lot.  I've read the story.  I've seen the animated video.  I've retold the story in Primary and in Family Home Evening lessons.  I felt very well acquainted with both Lehi AND the Liahona.  Except today was the very first time it has ever occurred to me that there were TWO spindles on that thing.  

I am always amazed when that happens.  When something that you feel you know so well, like the story of Lehi finding the Liahona, can lead to a whole different discussion on something you never even thought about before.  Someone in the class was asked to give a short synopsis of Chapter 16, and when he read that verse above, he very casually said, "I'm not sure why there were two spindles, but if anyone can answer that, I would love to know."  After he finished and sat down, the class discussion opened with a comment from an engineer in the back of the room.  He explained something called redundancy.  
 In engineering, redundancy is the duplication of critical components or functions of a system with the intention of increasing reliability of the system, usually in the case of a backup or fail-safe.  (I love engineers, but I am definitely NOT one, and I can't accurately reiterate what he said, so I copied this definition directly from wikipedia.)
That was my favorite thing about today...redundancy.  I didn't know that before I got to church today.  But it perfectly explained why there were TWO spindles!  Only ONE "pointed the way whither they should go in the wilderness."  So the other one must have pointed the way they were actually going.  Ideally, they would have wanted BOTH spindles pointed in the same direction.  That's how they would know for sure that they were going the right way.

During all of that engineering stuff, and the mini personal revelation I was having, I found myself thinking, "Lehi's family was so lucky.  I wish we had a Liahona...something tangible with pointers and REDUNDANCY that we could look at and visibly SEE when we're going astray."  Well, guess what!  We do!  It's the scriptures.  And the Holy Ghost.  And the Conference talks.  Those make up the ONE spindle that we need to be paying attention to.  They provide the redundancy...the fail-safe.  The variable is our free agency, our choices, the spindle that SHOULD be pointing in the same direction as those other things, but isn't always.   As long as we pay attention to the direction that the scriptures, the Holy Ghost, and the Prophet are leading, we can redirect that other spindle to always be in accordance with them. 

I am so grateful that I was in Gospel Doctrine today.  I'm grateful that I wanted to be there and that I heard the valuable things that were said.  I'm grateful for the teacher who opened it up for discussion.  I'm grateful for that man who acted on his inspiration to relate the Liahona to engineering.  And I'm especially grateful for the personal Liahona that we all have continuously providing direction and guidance.



  1. You know what? I'm teaching this lesson tomorrow. and I was thinking about the same question.. and that is a brilliant thought towards it. As far as everything I've read so far, this reasoning makes the very most sense. The difference between where you are heading and where you are SUPPOSED to be heading makes MUCH more sense that what others have suggested, like that one pointed the way to go and the other pointed back where they were coming from, like towards Jerusalem or somesuch. This concept, that of redundancy, that of making both spindles point the same way to show you were no off course... brilliant and much more Godly than any other idea I've seen. A VEry good example, too to show the necessary redundancies in our lives as well...

  2. Thank you so much for your awesome comment. I'm so glad you found my post and I hope it helps with your lesson tomorrow. Good luck!

  3. Can't wait to share this thought with my seminary class tomorrow! First, I want ask them why there are two spindles and see where the discussion will lead.