October 25, 2021
In Lehi's dream we are taught of a "strait and narrow path" representing the way to salvation. (1 Nephi 8:20.) I always assumed that "strait" meant direct--like a straight line.

This weekend I learned something new. At the adult session of our stake conference this weekend, our stake president, Brian Tate, spoke about the biblical language, "strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life[.]" (Matthew 7:14.) He said that the word "strait" as used in the Bible does not mean "straight." It means a narrow passage like the strait of Gibraltar or the straits of Magellan.

Having an inquiring mind, I double checked the president's doctrine with biblical scholarship. In Matthew, "strait" is translated from the Greek word στενός or stenós (sten-os') meaning "narrow (from obstacles standing close about)." (Strong's Concordance 4728.) That indicates to me that President Tate's understanding of the word "strait" is accurate. I believe the same definition applies in 1 Nephi because it uses the spelling "strait" rather than "straight" and because, like the passage in Matthew, Lehi also uses the word "narrow."

So what are the doctrinal implications of this definition? Well, if I assumed (as I did) that the word "strait" meant "direct" as a "straight" line, I might think the pathway to "life" is simple and straightforward and the only divergences would be things that take me off the path. I might be inclined to see a winding path that requires me to navigate among obstacles as a divergence from the true path. Instead, we find that the true path has many obstacles and narrow passageways we have to navigate. It isn't a matter of walking a straight line. It is more a matter of navigating "dire straits."

I find this new understanding oddly comforting as a double divorcee in a third marriage. My path, like most of yours, has not been straight or direct. There have been all kinds of life curves that I believed were taking me off the prescribed path. As Latter-day Saints, we can be pretty formulaic in our approach to walking the path of life. We have the fullness of the Gospel, and we teach the way to an abundant life with absolute confidence on youth standards night. So, when our path takes an unexpected turn, it is easy for us to get whiplash and believe, "It wasn't supposed to be this way. I was walking a straight line!"

In the last conference, Elder Uchtdorf said we are "pilgrims on the path of glory." Indeed we are. But that path of Glory passes between narrow straits all the way along. Sometimes, we can feel like we are between the devil and the deep blue sea. Sometimes the path seems exceedingly crooked. It is full of obstacles to be navigated under and around. This is why we need the "iron rod" representing the word of God, to keep us in the right path. (1 Nephi 8:19-20.) Otherwise the "strait and narrow" path can feel like a maze of twists and turns, full of detours and blind alleys.

What feels to you like a detour now is actually path of incomprehensible glory. In time, you will see that the things you thought had knocked you off the strait and narrow path were instrumental in your path to glory--if you hold to the iron rod and even seek new and deeper understanding of it.

This "strait and narrow path," will test our faith. The longer I live, the more I believe that most of the things we consider tragedies are actually tender mercies when we have a larger perspective. Often that larger perspective comes when we look back at the events of our lives and see clearly where they have taken us. While we are in the midst of it, our view of our situation is often obstructed by mists of darkness (1 Nephi 8:24). Thus, we need to live and journey by faith. At times, the path seems anything but straight.

As Paul wrote to the Romans:

"[T]he depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counselor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever" (Romans 11:33-36).

As pilgrims on the path of glory we walk by faith, not knowing the end from the beginning. Occasionally, we get glimpses of what is in store for us. I want you to know, this does not only pertain to the next life. You can experience exquisite joy and, what President Kimball called "exultant ecstasy" in this life. You still can, no matter how different your life is from what you expected. What Heavenly Father has planned for you is greater than what you planned for yourself. I bear you my witness that this is true.
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