~by Heather L.

Have you ever packed up the tent, the s’mores, the little ones, and headed out for a restful weekend of camping? Being in the middle of God’s creations, away from all the hustle and the bustle of the week, hearts are lightened, spirits are lifted, and you come back renewed.

Reading about Abraham and Lot (Genesis 13, 19) in Sunday School got me thinking about camping again. It reminded me of one weekend when we spontaneously decided to go camping. It was late in the afternoon when we came up with the idea, so it was dusk when we finally arrived. We ate dinner in the near dark and then hurried everyone to bed.

Around 10:30 p.m. a truck came roaring into the campsite just beyond ours. The noise got our kids’ attention, and they kept peeking out the tent window to see what was going on. I tried everything to distract them with no success. The neighbors stayed loud and raucous, their activities definitely not kid-appropriate. But our kids were more interested in the neighbors’ goings on than anything else.

It was the worst camping experience ever.

It is possible Abraham’s nephew Lot felt the same annoyance when he first set up camp next to Sodom and Gomorrah. Problem was, he set up his tent facing the corrupt city, so it was his front yard view 24/7. I’m sure more than a few enticing “salespeople” stopped by, inviting he and his family to try their wares. It wasn’t long before Lot’s family was way more interested in Sodom and Gomorrah than anything else.

In contrast to Lot’s camping choice, the people of King Benjamin, a Book of Mormon leader and prophet, chose to set up their tents facing the temple. By doing so, they could hear the words of God’s prophet. They wanted to know God’s will for them. They brought their whole families. As a matter of fact, so many people came that they had to have the message written down and passed out.

Which brings me to General Conference – the semi-annual opportunity the world-wide membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has to receive instruction from the Prophet, apostles, and other church leaders [coming next week!]. Listening to the talks and music as I seek to know God’s will for myself and my family is spiritually renewing for me.

One General Conference weekend my kids wanted to set up the tent in the family room just like King Benjamin’s people. I realized then how important it was to have our tent facing the right way! If our tent wasn’t facing the TV for the Conference broadcast, it was way too easy for us to get distracted!

I’ve found it’s the same in my everyday life. I need to consider which way I am facing spiritually each day. As I keep myself facing the temple, or focused on the things Heavenly Father wants me to do, I am less easily distracted from those good things. But when my focus is turned toward the worldly things, it is hard to pull myself away from them.

How can I keep my tent facing the right way? Really simple things can help to stake me in place! Things like daily prayer and scripture study, listening to and following the Prophet, trying to live as Jesus lived, and repenting when I make mistakes. Each of those things can help me to “stand in holy places and be not moved” (Doctrine & Covenants 87:8).

So when life gets intense, I want to remember to turn my tent toward the Lord and be renewed!