Moments of clarity on life’s path

As a microcosm for our decision making and consistency, let’s look for a brief moment at some statistics about how people move through their college experience. It is notable that statistically about 50% of people entering college have not even decided on a major. After choosing a major, 50% to 70% of all college students will change that major at least once, and the majority will change it at least 3 times before graduating. When they are done with college, less than half pursue a career that is related to their major.
We walk a path in life, much like we walk a path through college. We don’t always know where it leads, and we can’t always tell in the beginning specifically where we want to end up at the end of the path. Frequently our path changes as we progress, mature, and learn.
One of the greatest challenges we may is having clarity on life’s path. For a variety of reasons, we can’t always see the end from the beginning. Sometimes our lack of clarity comes from a lack of effort on our part, or a lack of conviction. Other times, our lack of clarity comes as a result of the efforts of the enemy of our soul, who constantly strives to cloud our path with darkness.
Imagine with me that you are walking on a path, and that you can see a small way in front of you, but that most of what is around and ahead of you is clouded with a thick foggy mist. You trust you are on the right path, and you set off on the path that you expected would take you where you wanted to go, but you can’t see the end. In a moment, the mist parted suddenly, and your path was clear and illuminated far into the distance. This lasted for only a moment before the fog closed back in around you, but for that instant, you had a clear vision of where you were going, and of the path you were on.
As I pondered on this post, my mind was drawn back to some concepts that I’ve read in the scriptures. First, I’d like to quickly walk through some scriptures in the New Testament, that help us understand the idea of a clouded path and how it occurs:
1 John 2:11 – the idea that spiritual darkness can “blind our eyes”
John 12:35 – the idea that darkness “can come upon us” and that “he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.”
Luke 1:79 – the idea that we can “sit in darkness” in “shadow”
Luke 22:53, Colossians 1:13 – the idea that there is a “power of darkness” or that darkness can have power over us
John 3:19 – “men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil”

The Book of Mormon drives the point home perhaps even a little more clearly. I’d like to share just two scriptures from that book, that present and explain the idea of a “mist of darkness” that can cloud our path through life. Both of the following are metaphorical:

1 Nephi 12:17
And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost
1 Nephi 8:23
And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.
This “darkness” or these “mists of darkness” that are around us are real. They are a function of the reality that we are here on earth to “walk by faith” and to be tested, to see if we will do as the Lord asks us to do. Sometimes the mists are caused by our sin, and sometimes they are caused by the enemy of our soul. They are his tool.
Moments of clarity are real as well, but they are by definition only momentary. The fog can encircle us again after we’ve had these moments of clarity, and can cause us to question whether or not we are on the correct path. Unlike our physical senses such as our sight, which once having seen the end of the path we can trust almost completely even if vision is obscured, we have a much harder time trusting the memory of our spiritual experiences. When our moments of clarity are gone, we have to have faith that they were ever real to begin with, and that faith pushes us forward.
Even though we can’t expect to walk the paths of life with a constant burning clarity, we can pray for clarity when we need it, and expect that God will answer that prayer. Once He has given us that clarity, even if it is only for a moment, we can call upon the memory of that gift from Him, and ask Him to renew our faith in that clarity that was once given.
I know that God lives, and that He cares about each of us. I don’t always have clarity in my purpose or path, but at times, God has revealed my path to me. I believe that He cares what I do with my life, and that he loves each of us and cares about each of us in the same way. If we will lean on Him more fully, in prayer and trust and faith, he will light our path so that we won’t have to walk in darkness.
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