Hymn text by Louis F. Mönch, 1847-1916. View the full text of this hymn.

I love symbolism. One of the most satisfying feelings I know is when I learn or figure out a symbol, and a passage that was previously meaningless to me suddenly has a secret meaning that I now get. There’s almost a mental snick sound of intellectual puzzle pieces fitting together.

A few years ago I learned that the compass directions have a symbolism to them. East is God’s symbolic direction: it’s the place light comes from. If you’re facing east (or God), then your right hand is pointing south, which makes that the direction of righteousness, of covenants. The left hand, or non-covenant hand, points north, which is then a direction of wickedness. And west, of course, is the opposite of God: a direction of evil. Not every direction in the scriptures is always a symbol, but many are, and I started looking for it with enthusiasm as soon as I learned the possibility.

The first example I found was in Amos 8.

 11 ¶Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:

 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.

 13 In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.

The chapter was already sad: the comparison to famine obviously makes the lack of God’s words a bad thing. But in my own experience, I know many people who aren’t religious and don’t seem to mind their secular lifestyle. The addition of the directional symbolism, though, makes it seem more tragic. These people weren’t content to live a secular lifestyle. They had been a wicked, non-covenant people (living in the north), and they made the grueling journey (repentance)  all the way to the east (where God lives,) and they found nothing.

We often complain about “God’s timing,” about how God’s promised blessings often come, not when we were expecting them, but days or months or years down the road. But in my own life, I find that when I redouble my efforts to pray or read my scriptures or be less slothful or selfish, I start to feel better and happier almost immediately, and those effects grow as I keep up good habits. Here, though, there’s a people who are in search of that happiness, and they do everything they can think of, roaming to and fro, and they don’t find it. They have no little victory to convince them to keep going, to sustain them. And they run themselves to exhaustion and despair: the young men and women faint from thirst.

The idea of God just not picking up the phone is almost incomprehensible to me. I’m sure there’s a reason, but I don’t know what it is. I’m relieved, though, that I live in an era when God responds to his children. It’s cause for celebration! And Louis F. Mönch thinks so, too.

Hark, all ye nations!
Hear heaven’s voice
Thru ev’ry land that all may rejoice!
Angels of glory shout the refrain:
Truth is restored again!

I especially love that heaven’s voice is audible in every land. Ours is an era where we have the ability to communicate easily with people all over the globe. President Monson may live in the United States, but he travels the world, and is called to serve all people. No one is left out.
Searching in darkness, nations have wept;
Watching for dawn, their vigil they’ve kept.
All now rejoice; the long night is o’er.
Truth is on earth once more!

 

We’re reminded again of how hard other people on the earth have had it, how much they’ve looked forward to our day. And here we are, with complete access to God’s word, to his truth!

Chosen by God to serve him below,
To ev’ry land and people we’ll go,
Standing for truth with fervent accord,
Teaching his holy word.

Although God’s truth is available to all, there are still many who don’t know where to find it. And that’s where we come in. We have something wonderful, something that we love, something that is rare and wonderful. We also love our brothers and sisters, and we want to share all the best things we have with them. We can do that by serving missions, by being active on social media, even just by living our lives as best we can so that others can see the results of our faith. No matter our style, we must, if we have God’s love and God’s truth, share. After the world was so painfully empty, it would be selfish to keep the light we have to ourselves.

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