The islands in Hawaii are all shapes and sizes, but, like all islands, they have one thing in common – there is only so much land before you start hitting ocean. This finite amount of land can be problematic, especially when you’re looking for places to build homes that people can live in. What’s more, these islands aren’t flat. There are gorgeous mountains that rise of up the middle of each island, leaving even fewer places to build.
So the people of Hawaii got creative, and built homes into the mountains!
A Home Eroded
But building on mountains takes a lot of work. Perhaps foremost among all this work is clearing out all the vegetation and growth in order to create a strong, stable, and level foundation for the future home.
A few years ago there was a builder working on homes with a beautiful view of Pearl Harbor. I once lived on Aiea Heights Drive, and I can tell you that a morning view of Pearl Harbor is a very desirable thing to have. Unfortunately, this builder was in a hurry – there were more homes to be built and more profit to be made. Because of this rush, instead of scraping out the hillside and replacing the vegetation and top soil with fill material, he simply turned the soil over and built the homes on top.
Everything went fine for a while. Unfortunately, the vegetation that had been turned over began to rot, and this rotting created air pockets which caused the mountainside to begin eroding and sliding. These beautiful, multimillion dollar homes cracked and slid, and had to be abandoned. They were eventually completely destroyed.
Covering Our Sins
While a prisoner in Liberty Jail, Joseph Smith received some of the most beautiful and comforting revelations of this dispensation. In one of these revelations, the Lord says,
“Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because… they do not learn this one lesson— That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins… behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:34-37).
What the Lord said about sinning is very interesting. He didn’t say that people are not chosen because they sin. Rather, He said that people are not chosen because they cover their sins. Everyone is going to make mistakes, and we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The problem comes when we try to hide our sins instead of carving them out of our lives. We become like that builder, and build ourselves on a weak foundation that is bound to erode beneath us. We are left simply to crumble and fall, eventually to be destroyed.
Avoiding the Mountains
Why not just stay down in the valley, away from the mountains? If we don’t aspire to such great things, then surely we have less to worry about. I learned a lesson about shying away from responsibility in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood.
For those that receive the priesthood, there is an oath and covenant that comes with it which, in part, requires that the priesthood holder magnifies their callings (Doctrine and Covenants 84:33). The Lord includes a stern warning:
“But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come”(Doctrine and Covenants 84:41).
But fear of breaking a covenant is not a reason to avoid such a covenant, for then there is no potential for growth. The Lord continues,
“And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood which ye have received” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:42).
It’s clear that we’re not just here on earth to squander our time in the valleys of our lives. Instead, our Father wants us to scale the mountains, build on them, and become priceless buildings. He wants us to become even as He and His Son are (Matthew 5:48; 3 Nephi 27:27), and He will never allow us to be tempted or tried beyond our ability to withstand (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Nephi 3:7).
We have nothing to fear. God has chosen us, and we may be called as well as we repent of our sins and come unto him. Look to the mountains and build, confident that God will join with you and make you something you could not build on your own. Build, and find that view.