After descending 444 steps into the depths of the earth to see the beauty of Minetonka Cave in Idaho, we had the wonderful experience of finding out what Lehi experienced in his dream of the Iron Rod in The Book of Mormon in 1 Nephi.
Our tour guide was a recently returned missionary and we went on the first tour of the day with young women and their leaders from Kaysville, UT. Jessica asked us if we would like to have the Iron Rod tour since we were all Latter-day Saints. Everyone agreed. She explained that she would turn off the lights and then stand at the back at the bridge with her flashlight shining like the Tree of Life for us to see. It will be very dark. Then gave us these simple instructions:
Hold to the railing and don’t let go. It is the Iron Rod.
Move toward the light.
When the lights were off, everything was pitch black. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face and didn’t know where it was until it touched my nose. At first, I thought this is pretty cool. I held my arm out so that I could feel my daughter in front of me. But as we continued to move forward, not being able to see where we were going, it was kind of scary–especially when I no longer felt my daughter in front of me when I held out my arm. That was when I put both hands on the railing “Iron Rod” and held on tighter–slowly moving forward. The path was slippery because of the moisture inside the cave and I couldn’t afford to fall. The railing was damp and very cold so a couple of times I had to stop and wipe off one hand while I held on with the other. Suddenly the chorus of the hymn we sing in church flooded my mind.
“Hold to the rod, the iron rod. ‘Tis strong and straight and true.
The iron rod is the word of God. ‘Twill safely guide us through”
As I got closer to where Jessica stood, I could see the glow of her flashlight through the darkness. I felt relief and at the same time accomplishment. What an wonderful feeling to know that if we hold to the rod – God’s word, read and follow the counsel given in the scriptures and from our prophet, keep our covenants and live as the Savior would, we can reach the Tree of Life.
Can you imagine the joy that will abound? I know the story I’ve read is true and I have a testimony of it, but before now I couldn’t quite grasp the reality of it. Now I know with certainty that Lehi’s dream was given to him to help us stay safe as we journey through this life and the reward that will be ours if we hold to the iron rod us eternal life. God has given us all the tools we need to be successful and return to live with Him. He loves us more than anything! We are His children.
When I reached the place where the railing ended in the cave, my youngest son and youngest daughter were there waiting for me and when I turned around my husband, middle son and my nephew were close behind me. What an incredible feeling to have them there with me! At the same time, however, I longed to have my oldest daughter, my oldest son and his family there as well. They were unable to attend due to work and living out of the country.
The Iron Rod
1. To Nephi, seer of olden time,A vision came from God,Wherein the holy word sublimeWas shown an iron rod.
(Chorus)Hold to the rod, the iron rod;‘Tis strong, and bright, and true.The iron rod is the word of God;‘Twill safely guide us through.
While on our journey here below,Beneath temptation’s pow’r,Through mists of darkness we must go,In peril ev’ry hour.
And when temptation’s pow’r is nigh,Our pathway clouded o’er,Upon the rod we can rely,And heaven’s aid implore.
And, hand o’er hand, the rod along,Through each succeeding day,With earnest prayer and hopeful song,We’ll still pursue our way.
Afar we see the golden restTo which the rod will guide,Where, with the angels bright and blest,Forever we’ll abide.
Text: Joseph L. Townsend, 1849-1942Music: William Clayson, 1840-1887