Dieter Uchtdorf said the following during a General Conference talk back in 2014.
The promised blessings of God to the faithful are glorious and inspiring. Among them are “thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths.” And it takes more than a spiritual birth certificate or a “Child of God Membership Card” to qualify for these incomprehensible blessings.
But how do we attain them?
The Savior has answered this question in our time:
“Except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.
“For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation".
Living the Gospel Joyful, October 2014 Conference, General Women's Session
I’m going to be honest. I have often felt like this was a very restricting way of saying things. Why would a loving God make it so difficult to return to him? If he loves me so much, wouldn’t he make the way large and obvious? Wouldn’t you be able to see it from all directions and get there from no matter what direction?
I mean, really. We all make mistakes. How can he possibly expect us to find and fit through such a narrow entrance?
It doesn’t seem very…I don’t know… forgiving… or Christ-like.
I wasn’t a perfect teenager. I did things my parents still haven't found out about. If you are were in the car I almost hit on state street after going over the cement median… I’m sorry.
I did, however, generally avoid serious trouble. My parents love me, now, after the fact… and I had rules to follow. Among other things, they told me to not be home too late. Of course I would occasionally disregard the rule and would suffer the consequences of getting up for work at 6:00 when I hadn’t gone to bed until 3.
It almost as if our Father in Heaven, like my parents, knows something we don’t. As if he’s been there, perhaps made similar mistakes, and is trying to help us get to where we want to be. I want to believe there is a reason our Heavenly Father makes the gate so narrow and strait.
Why do we sometimes treat him like grumpy teenagers rebelling against our parents? Do we really think we are going through things he wouldn't understand?
To take the “gate” and “path” analogy literally… he probably knows that if we veer too far to the left or to the right, we’re going to miss the gate entirely. Maybe we’ll fall off the bridge into cold water and be swept away. Maybe if we go too fast and don't watch where we’re going we’ll hit the side of the gate and still fall in.
Maybe it’s like a draw-bridge over a deep water-filled castle moat.
Drawbridges can be really annoying.
On a sidenote, for many missionaries tourist sites become the most convenient way to set a meeting place.
“Let’s meet at the most famous tourist trap, there are signs everywhere, everyone will make it.”
In Versailles, the Palace of Versaille has awesome fields behind where you can play soccer and frisbee. In Paris it was the Eiffel tower. There are great soccer fields, gyms, and a place you can rent roller blades not far away.
In Caen it was the lawns that grew inside the dry moat of William the Conquerer’s 10th century fortress.
The moat is 15-20 feet deep, beautifully green, and great place to spend a p-day with the district playing soccer or ultimate frisbee. That is until the soccer ball or the frisbee goes too far and you have to walk all the way around to the drawbridge to enter the fortress to get it.
You can complain all day long about the drawbridge being so skinny, and high off the ground, how you have to go all the way around to get to it, and why don’t they put entrances all over the place so you can get in from where you come from. That sounds like great Castle design doesn’t it? Having lots of entrances to defend from invaders.
Elder Uchtdorf also said this in his talk.
He is also eternally loving, compassionate, and focused on one blessed goal: to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life.
In other words, He not only /knows/ what is best for you; He also anxiously wants you to choose what is best for you.
He wants us to choose. Choose. So, if there are entrances all around a castle then I wouldn’t really have to choose, would I? I would probably just bump into an entrance at random while wandering around. Do I want to go in? I don’t know, maybe not today. I’ll wander around some more. What's in there? Why go in? Would I be comfortable if I did go in? Maybe, maybe not.
By making the entrance strait and narrow, our Father has given us not restrictions, but instructions on how to be happy. How to get there. The way is not narrow to restrict us but to make sure we do get there. The way is narrow, but we will not get lost following it. If we choose to follow it then we will know where we are going. It may take us a while, and we might wander a bit but we will get there. And we will find joy along the way.
In Lehi’s dream, the path to Eternal life and Happiness is described as also having a rod of Iron that can lead us through the mists of darkness, (aka doubts, confusion, trials, etc). What is the rod of iron? The gospel or the word of god. The word of God found in the scriptures yes, but also the word of God as we feel it through prayer, the Holy Ghost, happy associations with friends and family, personal revelation, and repentance.
What if, rather than thinking of the way as straight, as in a straight line, but straight as in correct. I started thinking about other ways we use the word "straight".
- Candid, Frank
- Coming from a trustworthy source
- straight answer
- true, honest, direct
- “Set me straight”
- “Get the facts straight”, not straight, but right correct
- “give it to me straight”, truth, without impurity, “straight whiskey”
- “come straight home from work”
- “straight dealing”
- straight thinker
And what is the opposite of straight?
- indirect, curved, confusing, unclear
Strait (without the “gh”) means narrow, restricted (there is that word again). It says nothing about not curving, or seeing things from the beginning to the end.
What if we are lead in “correct paths” from wherever we are, whenever we choose to listen? Our path will be twisty, full of turns and sometime dark and scary. Sometimes we’ll get lost.
As we become more skilled at listening to the spirit and hearing his voice correct us in small and simple ways, we will find ourselves following a path the Lord puts in front of us.
As we trust Him and have faith in him, we can know that he is guiding us, step by step, along the path that will lead us safely home.