A young Elder Holland stared at the two roads, praying to know which direction to go.
Very little of it made sense.
It didn’t make sense that I knew I was supposed to go to this job interview in another state, in another time zone, some 1,000 miles away.
It didn’t make sense because — although the job sounded pretty good on paper — it involved leaving my family for several months, working regular Sunday hours and returning to a newspaper, something I wasn’t sure I was ready for.
Yet as I fasted and prayed beforehand about the job opportunity, I had that knowledge, that undeniable conviction, that I needed to go to Washington state to study it out in my mind and figure it out for myself.
Driving into Port Angeles, it felt good at first. Many of the people there were so kind, the salary was more than I expected and it gave me a chance to relive the incredible scenery of the Olympic Peninsula. My mom lived next to 50 miles to the west.
One of the beautiful lakes where I would be working.
I started talking myself into how our family could live there, how maybe I could sneak into church on Sundays and justify working the rest of the Sabbath at the newspaper.
Then came the shattering news on Day 2 of my tryout there. My son-in-law, Nick, had been rushed to the emergency room the night before, on the verge of death. And my good wife, who had portrayed strength through so many trials this year, showed signs of emotion, fatigue and stress.
From the darkness of that conference room in Port Angeles, the quiet voice from within was unmistakable, “You need to go home.”
I informed my wife and everyone at the newspaper that I needed to rush home. They understood and put everything on hold.
Two days later, I made it to Rexburg, and by the next morning, had traveled to University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. I would spend much of that next week after that providing whatever support I could as Nick made a miraculous recovery from severe bleeding in his brain.
While I was in Salt Lake City, I felt prompted one afternoon to visit the LDS Tabernacle on temple square. From my seat near the back of the building, I sketched out on a piece of paper the pros and cons with this job in Port Angeles. Around me, tourists from other parts of the world listened as missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints demonstrated the remarkable acoustics of the historic building.
As I did that, I felt prompted to look up talks on keeping the Sabbath Day holy from general authorities.
I read excerpts from the first few talks on the subject, before coming to this one from Elder John H. Groberg. I wasn’t even done before I knew my answer. It was not right for me to accept employment that required me to work on Sunday. Everybody else has different circumstances, but this my revelation for my circumstances at this time.
Still, as I wrote the letter to the newspaper executives explaining the situation and withdrawing my name from consideration, one thought persisted.
If Heavenly Father knew all along that this wasn’t the right job and that this was the wrong road, why did I feel so strongly like I needed to go there? It surely wasn’t a surprise to him that NIck would be sick and I would be needed on the morning of the second day. Not to mention that we spent a significant amount of our cash reserves for some trip expenses.
It didn’t make sense at all.
Until this week, when a friend sent me this story from Elder Jeffrey Holland, about when he and his son were returning home late in the evening from a wilderness exploration and came to a fork in the road.
As they both prayed about which way to go, father and son both felt strongly like they should take the road to the right. They didn’t travel more than 400 feet before realizing it was the wrong road.
“We went to the right and it was a dead end … clearly the wrong road,” Holland said, recounting the story. After retracing their route, they ended up on the right road heading home.
As I pondered this story, I realized that this was my answer. That we needed to experience a slight detour to help remind us what the right path looked like.
We’re still walking, and it might take awhile. But thanks to that detour 1,000 miles away, we know we’re headed in the right direction.
Watch the story of Elder Holland and the wrong road below.