Ruts That Lead Us Home

Three years ago, My husband, Calvin, and I attended a Pioneer Trails Workshop. One notable landmark on the trail was the Guernsey Ruts in Wyoming.  Here the Oregon Trail was forced away from the river and ran along a ridge of sandstone.  Since it was the most passable route, practically every wagon headed West crossed in the same place.  Ruts as deep as five feet were worn through the rock by the wagons that carried people and provisions to their western promised lands.

Calvin and I knelt and rubbed our hands along the grooves, thinking of ancestors who had passed in that exact spot one hundred and fifty years earlier.

We often think of ruts in a negative connotation, but our instructor reminded us that it was those deep, secure ruts that allowed safe passage.  Other areas of the trail weren’t passable, and wagons became stuck and stranded if they left the grooves. 

Our instructor asked, “What ruts are you following in your life that keep you on a secure trail?  What are some things that you do over and over and over that make a deep imprint on your spirit?”

Since that day, I’ve thought about the Guernsey and Jane Payne Ruts.  Certainly, daily scripture study has been a secure rut that has given me traction in life. As a teenager, I initially shied away from beginning, but once I did, studying the scriptures became a reliable source of instruction and inspiration during the difficult mountain passes of my life. As a young adult, my first semester of college was at BYU-Hawaii. It was a very, very long way from my Southern Idaho home and I was homesick. 

My older sister Chris wrote me a letter one day that said, “I hear you’re homesick. Don’t be. Mom’s sick in bed. Dad’s cross. The little kids are fighting. There are weeds in the garden. I’m canning peaches.  The kitchen floor is sticky and dirty.  This is all you are missing. DON’T BE HOMESICK.”

After I read that letter from Chris, I wasn’t nearly as homesick as I’d been before: I began to see my new opportunities with increased enthusiasm and gratitude – after all, if nothing else they were saving me from weeding and mopping and refereeing siblings. 

The scriptures have been for me like that note from Chris – letters from Heavenly Father reminding me of where I should be, what I need to enjoy, do and experience while I’m on earth and a long way from home.  

They also save me from many unpleasantries.  The scriptures provide a consistent way for our Father in Heaven to keep in touch with me, for as 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.”

Gethsemane, by Adam Abrams

To understand and rely upon the Atonement of Jesus Christ  is one rut that will safely deliver us to our Father in Heaven.  It is in the scriptures where the words of the Savior are kept.  In the scriptures we come to know Him so that we will understand and rely upon His Atonement. It is in the scriptures that we find a deep and abiding groove to guide us safely home.

Jane Payne