Look in the Direction You’re Going

And it came to pass that because of so much contention and so much difficulty in the government, that they had not kept sufficient guards in the land of Zarahemla…

Helaman 1:18

My parents weren’t much on giving advice, so I tended to remember those rare moments when they did give counsel, or at least something that could be used as counsel.

One of my mom’s go-to observations is that when she saw someone trip, she would say, “They should have looked in the direction they were walking.”

As far as wisdom goes, it seemed pragmatic enough. But I understood it to mean something more than just pedestrian advice (come back in the room, that’s the only dad joke I’m using today). It’s a motto that I’ve internalized in order to remember to stay focused on where I want to go, and not let distractions trip me up.

There are more than enough distractions to go around, and they compete mightily for our attention. We live in a time of societal ADD, with regular input coming at us in byte-size portions that individually take up little of our focus, but collectively lead to us having the attention of goldfish. Keeping “on target,” whether at work, school, or in our discipleship to Christ, requires significant effort.

The Book of Mormon prophet Helaman gives us an example of the consequences of distraction. In the first chapter of Helaman, the Nephites are on the verge of civil war as three separate factions are vying for political control by filling the vacant seat of the chief judge. These factions lead to unrest, political intrigue, and eventually murder.

While the Nephites are busy making enemies of one another, they lose their focus on their external enemies, the Lamanites, and failed to take adequate measures to guard themselves against them. The Lamanites take advantage of that distraction by invading, killing the chief judge, and quite nearly defeating the Nephites entirely until thwarted by Moronihah and some unanticipated bad luck.

The same is true of us as we fortify ourselves against the enemy of our souls. If our attention is diverted by other things–even good, but less essential things–we risk a breach in our defenses. Simply put, we need to keep our eyes on the things that are most important or we risk a painful stumble. We need to look in the direction we are walking.

Let us be careful and not casual in our use of technology. Continually seek for ways that technology can draw us closer to the Savior and allow us to accomplish His work as we prepare for His Second Coming.

Peter M. Johnson
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