Into the Wilderness: Journey Lessons for Today

Drawing on scriptural accounts and experiences from her own life, Dr. Susan Rugh taught BYU students to rely on God-given guides through our journey through life.


Travel is defined as “moving through space, across time, in a departure from normal, daily activities.”  From the Book of Mormon, Lehi leaves his home and friends in Jerusalem, leaving “his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things” (1 Ne. 2:2-4).  Lehi was totally committed to his journey.  He prepared and took his family and necessary provisions into the wilderness.

For any journey, there are three stages:

  1. Prepare for the journey
  2. Travel through the wilderness
  3. Make meaning through reflection


First, Lehi’s preparations for his journey were quick, yet wise.  He took what he needed and left what he didn’t.  He prepared to live and travel alone, through unknown paths, without a guide.  Lehi trusted in the Lord and obeyed his word.

The Journey Itself

Second, Lehi embarked on the journey.  Shortly thereafter, God provided a tool to guide them through the wilderness.  A ball, or director, was given to Lehi to “pointed the way wither [they] should go” (1 Nephi 16:10).  This director acted as a compass; however, it only functioned according to the faith and diligence of Lehi’s party.  Sadly, “They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey” (Alma 37:41).

Lehi and his family traveled for many years until they reached their final destination.  Along the way, “things went wrong”: Nephi broke his bow, his brothers tried to kill him, their ship passed through a great storm, and they suffered “much affliction, hunger, thirst, and fatigue” (1 Nephi 16).

Making Meaning

Third, we can apply lessons from the scriptures and from our own experiences with wilderness journeys to better navigate our current journey into the unknown future.  Dr. Rugh quoted Alma, a descendant of Lehi, who reflected on the journey of his ancestors.  Said Alma, “For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise” (Alma 37:45).


Thank you, Dr. Rugh, for your uplifting address.  It gave me great comfort and strengthened my faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ.