…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

That Lonely, Unfrequented Way

Comfortable versus Comfort

By Rex Goode


I’ve never been very methodical in choosing my way through life. An acquaintance of mine, an author of self-help books, once told me he thought of me as a flow-finder, someone who doesn’t need to think things through at a minute level. Instead, I get in touch with the way things flow in my life and let that flow carry me to the things I most want and need.

Another acquaintance, also an author of self-help books asked me to come visit him at the Portland Airport while he waited for a connecting flight. He gave me a copy of his book and told me that I was epitome of the kind of person he was writing about, someone who bases the progress of life on principles rather than analysis.

Both of these men were saying much the same thing, although there were subtle differences. As I’ve pondered their statements, I’ve come to realize they were right. I never really sit down and weigh out all of the ramifications of decisions I make. I have an internal sense of not only right and wrong, but of what choices are an expression of my values and character.

Fortunately, both of these acquaintances were paying me compliments, or in other words, they were saying my way of doing things is healthy. For me, if my task is to cross a lake, I’m more likely to set a sail than row. It’s not a great analogy, because I don’t enjoy being in boats on lakes, but if I had to, I’d let the wind do the work.

It’s another way of describing faith, because, to me, I liken wind to the Spirit, and in my life, a mighty rushing wind, as it were. This isn’t to say that I don’t weigh my options at all. I do study choices out in my mind, but I’m not likely to study them too deeply. I very quickly see things in light of my principles and values, and once I few a path as being in keeping with them, the choice is automatic.

It also doesn’t mean that I don’t pray about my decisions. I do, but even those prayers are a matter of seeking guidance to see my choices in the light of the virtues in which I believe. One virtue tops my list of principles. It is the virtue of obedience. More than anything, I want to obey God and do His will.

As much as I have thought about this process, questions still remain and some principles aren’t fully explored. One problem I experience is when choices I make don’t turn out as I hoped they would. Many times, I’ve headed down a path only to say to myself, “This way is too hard. I wish I’d gone the other way.”

This is on my mind this week after watching the video you see embedded above. It describes a principle related to prayer and the lessons the Lord teaches us when he doesn’t always send us down the easiest path. If you haven’t viewed it yet, take a few moments and then continue here.

TrailChoicesWahclellaSmallI’ve seen many times in my life where I was sent down a difficult path only to discover that it was the only real way to an important destination. In Elder Holland’s story (see the video), he and his son were prompted to take a dead-end road. What Elder Holland taught his son was that they needed to go down that road so they would know quickly that the road to the left was not the right way. By learning that, they were only uncertain for a few minutes. If they had taken the right road first, they would have spent a long time wondering if they had made the right decision. It helps me to think about this, to realize that sometimes the Lord may have his own higher reasons for the things he leads me to do and that I shouldn’t be so quick to question my own faith.

One of the ways I question why the Lord sends me one way is when it ends up not being a lot of fun. Somehow, I think that everything God asks me to do is supposed to somehow be comfortable. If there’s hardship, I start thinking I made a mistake. I’m stubborn about it, because I always find that there was a greater purpose in choosing the uncomfortable ways.

In fact, regardless of all other purposes, one outweighs them all. It is all a question of whether I want the comfortable way or the way of comfort. I see a lot of people on the road to Comfortable and I figure they’re probably enjoying themselves. I don’t tend to travel that route.

It all seems so hard, and it is hard, but for one thing. When I travel the difficult road, I travel the road where I am accompanied by the Comforter. If I look at it spiritually, the decision is between the comfortableness of the easier road or the comfort of the harder road.

I’ve said it before. When I die and they have my funeral, if they are available, I want my friends Kathi Knowles and Renee Leth to sing, “Ye Simple Souls Who Stray.’ They did this once for me when we were single and I decided right then and there that they had to do it again when I go.

“Ye Simple Souls Who Stray”, LDS Hymn #118. Text by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788, adapted. Music by Evan Stephens.

The first verse of the current version in the LDS Hymnal says:

Ye simple souls who stray
Far from the path of peace,
That lonely, unfrequented way
To life and happiness.

Why will ye folly love,
And throng the downward road,
And hate the wisdom from above,
And mock the sons of God?

No matter how many times I wonder why things are so difficult, why I can’t get a break and have things be comfortable and easy, I can always look back later and not only realize that the paths I’ve taken were necessary to get to where I needed to be, but that I was comforted the entire way by a feeling more important than all of the amusements of the easier path.

As Wesley describes it, it often feels lonely. Increasingly, people of faith are being talked about as if they are fools to place so much confidence in things that can’t be proven. I can’t prove my feelings, but I do know the stirrings of the Holy Ghost deep in my soul.

It is that influence and comfort that is the flow I follow. It is the Spirit assuring me that I am following my most important principle–doing the will of God. I find that as much as I like the approval of others, I’d rather be doing that than anything else.

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One Response to “That Lonely, Unfrequented Way”

  1. Eric said:

    Great post Rex, and I love that hymn. Sadly I’ve only heard it sung in church once in the last 10 years.

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