So a couple days ago I was reading in 1 Nephi and came across this passage in Chapter 8 verse 24:
And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, aclinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the bfruit of the tree.For those that aren't familiar with what is happening in this chapter, Lehi has seen a vision of the Tree of Life. Instead of explaining it further, I recommend you go and read the whole chapter. The vision basically symbolizes our journey through life and eventual goal to reach eternal life. So back to the verse above...
Two things jumped out at me in this verse. The phrase "pressing forward" and "clinging". I loved the imagery these brought to my mind. The people in Lehi's vision were pressing forward through the mist of darkness. The new that they couldn't just wander through life without guidance and hope to reach their goal of eternal life, they needed something to hold on to. They also didn't wait for it to come to them, they worked hard to get there. When I think of someone pressing forward I think about an athlete in a race. I swam in High School and can remember having to be in the 500 yard event. Distance was not my thing. I could do just fine on sprints and even short distance events but the 500 was murder. There was a time I can remember where I didn't think I was going to finish, my body could not move any more. I knew I couldn't give up though, I had to keep going. I pressed forward through that water and even though I finished dead last, I finished. It took all the strength I had but I did it. I pressed forward, I didn't stop until I reached my goal. That's what I see these people in Lehi's dream doing.
And then once they got to the Iron Rod they clung to it. They didn't just touch it or even hold on to it, they clung to it like it was their life support. They had worked so hard getting out of the mists of darkness that they hung on to the rod with dear life as they walked forward. They knew that if they let go there was a chance they could fall into the mists of darkness and be lost again. Back to the swimming analogy: Sometimes pools are deeper than you can touch when you finish a race--let's face it most swimming pools are deeper than I can touch being 5'2"--but when you get to the end of a race and you can't touch, the wall is all you have to hold on to. You cling to that wall and don't let go. If you do, you would sink.
The Gospel, Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon are the things that we need to be pressing forward to get to and clinging on to when we get them. Life takes work. Having a testimony of the Atonement and the gospel take work. We need to not be wanderers in the mists of darkness, hoping that we will find the Iron rod to hold on to, but we should press forward until we find it and cling onto it when we do. Our life and salvation depend on it.