Goal-setting has often received emphasis in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and with good reason. We are an industrious, action-oriented people. Our ancestors were motivated by their faith to cross oceans and mountains, drain swamps, tame deserts, and build kingdoms.
Goal-setting can be a helpful way to organize effort and to prioritize our use of time by identifying activities and steps that are meant to move us toward a desired objective. It is often a valuable tool.
A remarkable phrase shows up a number of times in the Book of Mormon. It involves “looking forward” with an “eye of faith” to a desired result in the future. The idea is that if there is something that you sincerely desire, you should use your inner “eye,” or your imagination, and picture yourself as already being there or having what you want. Through your faith that it is possible, you can begin to see yourself as having already reached your goal.
In the book of Alma 5:15-16, Alma preaches to the people about the goal of being received into heaven when their life on Earth is over. In order to direct them toward that goal, he asks them if they can imagine how things will be at that future time when they finally get there. As they “look forward with an eye of faith,” what kind of outcome do they see? He asks:
15 Do ye exercise faith in the redemption of him who created you? Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality … to stand before God …?
16 I say unto you, can you imagine to yourselves that ye hear the voice of the Lord, saying unto you, in that day: Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth?
What Alma is trying to have his audience do is to visualize their own future in minute detail. They are to imagine being resurrected and raised to stand before God. They are to imagine themselves hearing the approving voice of the Lord accepting them into heaven — reaching their ultimate goal. He suggests that if they try to visualize this scene and what they envision is only negative, then perhaps they need to find that balance in their lives so that the way they are living is in alignment with a positive outcome and then exercise their faith so that they are now headed in this more desirable direction.