28 And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost. . . .
31 And he also saw other multitudes feeling their way towards that great and spacious building.
32 And it came to pass that many were drowned in the depths of the fountain; and many were lost from his view, wandering in strange roads. (1 Nephi 8: 28, 31-32)
These verses stuck out to me recently. It was surprising to me to realize that there wasn’t just the strait and narrow path in Lehi’s dream. It wasn’t the only road in the field. There were forbidden paths (probably dangerous) and strange paths (strange probably in the sense of “foreign”).
We don’t know much about how Lehi knew those paths were forbidden or strange. Maybe it was one of those things that you just know in a dream without having to be told.
But all those people took those paths for some reason, thinking the paths would take them someplace they wanted.
1) People headed for the great and spacious building. Why? Because they wanted pride and to feel superior and to look down at and scorn people.
2) People who were at the tree and who were ashamed of partaking of the fruit wanted something else—approval of crowds?—more than the fruit, or love of God.
3) What about the people wandering in strange roads and forbidden paths? What was at the end of those roads that they wanted? We don’t know, but odds are it was something forbidden and strange, respectively.
Among all these different paths, there is the path to the tree of life (love of God). The people who got to the tree and stayed there did it because that’s what they wanted.
In thinking about all these paths as representations of ways people take to get what they want, it has made me examine my motives and why I do what I do to keep the commandments. Do I do it because I know I should and that’s how I was taught? Yes. Do I do it because I love the Lord and want more of His love in my life? How strong a motive is my love of God and desire to receive His love? For me I think it is subconscious. Truthfully, I think a bit more about God’s blessings than His love. Perhaps that’s something I can work on.
So here’s a question to ponder today: what do you want most deep down, and what road are you taking to get it? Do you know why you want it? Whatever you and I want, we think it will make us happy. Will it? Is God’s love involved?