Several years ago, my son was taking a long road trip alone. His destination was about twelve hours away, more than half of that time with nothing but wide open space. Before he left, we made sure he had enough food and money for his journey. Definitely one of the most important preparations was figuring out how many miles the car could go on a tank of gas, where gas stations were, and their hours of operation. And, of course, the mother in me asked him to call and check in every few hours—both on his way there and on his way home.
Let’s liken that experience to our earthly journey. We are all children of God. We should never forget that Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation is so very personal. It is His plan for me. I am His child. He loves me, watches over me, and wants me back home. If we can truly comprehend that, we can know for certain that a loving Heavenly Father would not send us on a long road trip alone without a plan. He would make sure that we had the information and resources necessary for our journey. He would want us to be safe and check in to let Him know where we are and how we are doing. And He would be anxiously awaiting our return home.
There are certain words and phrases we hear so often in the Church that, if we are not careful, they can seem ordinary. I believe the plan of salvation would fit in that category. Yet far from ordinary, God’s plan is extraordinary! Whether it is referred to as the plan of happiness, the plan of salvation, the plan of redemption, or simply the plan, it is what a loving Father in Heaven designed to enable us to return home to Him.
When was the last time you stopped to think about what the plan of salvation actually means—and more particularly what it means to you?
David A. Bednar gives us this beautiful definition, “Our Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness includes the doctrine, the ordinances, the covenants, and the exceeding great and precious promises whereby we can become partakers of the divine nature. His plan defines our eternal identity and the pathway we must follow to learn, change, grow, and ultimately dwell with Him forever.”1
Let’s go back to my son’s road trip. Most of the time, he could choose for himself where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do. However, there was one thing that he could not neglect—gas stations! There were limitations as to how far he could go on a tank of gas. Knowing where and when to stop for gas was vital. Before he left, a plan was made. Because he understood that plan and accepted it, his trip was not only safe and successful, but also peaceful and enjoyable. We too accepted our Heavenly Father’s plan before we left His presence. The vital checkpoints on our mortal journey are the ordinances and covenants we make with Him. Like my son’s gas stops, these are not optional if we want to return home to our Heavenly Father. Covenants made and kept keep us safe in this life. D. Todd Christofferson recently reminded us, “The covenants God offers to His children do more than guide us. They bind us to Him, and, bound to Him, we can overcome all things.”2
Gratefully we did not come on this road trip of life unprepared. That doesn’t mean there won’t be ups and downs, twists and turns. There will be! At times, it will be downright hard! So, “in times of distress,” Elder Christofferson teaches, “let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact. Then you can ask in faith, nothing, wavering, according to your need, and God will answer.”3 He is there, anxiously waiting to help us on our journey home to Him.
1. Exceeding Great and Precious Promises – David A. Bednar
2. Why the Covenant Path – D. Todd Christofferson
3. The Power of Covenants – D. Todd Christofferson