The Psalm of Nephi (Part 4/6) – Nephi’s Analysis – 2 Nephi 4:26-27

You can read 2 Nephi 4:26-30 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • 2 Nephi 4:15-35 comprises what is commonly referred to as The Psalm of Nephi.
  • Nephi feels sorrow because he has allowed sin into his heart.
  • Nephi remembers and praises the Lord.
  • Nephi forsakes his sin.
  • Nephi resolves to do better.
  • Nephi petitions the Lord.

Nephi’s Analysis

This is the fourth part of the study of the Psalm of Nephi. You can read Part One – Nephi’s Grief – here. You can read Part Two – Nevertheless – here. You can read Part Three – Always Remembering – here.

Can I just say how much I love the Psalm of Nephi. It is perfect and appropriate for me in my life currently. I’m going through my own struggles right now. I’ve shared some of them in past posts. Today, as I write this post, I’m sitting on the couch. I’ve been parked on the couch or on my bed for the better part of a month now – trying to conserve energy because my heart has been giving me trouble.

Yesterday (which was actually in October), I was really struggling. I started off the day feeling positive and hopeful. I was on my way to see the EP (a cardiologist that specializes in the Electrical component of the heart). I guess I had a hope that he would have an answer to my dizziness, shortness of breath, and chest pain.

This was my first appointment with the EP, so I don’t know why expected much, but whatever it was that I wanted didn’t necessarily happen. The appointment wasn’t bad, it was just another appointment where I explained how I felt and then tests were ordered. I’m scheduled to wear a Holter monitor (or event monitor, I can’t remember which one I’ll be wearing) for ten days. I’m also scheduled to have a tilt table test.

When the doctor mentioned the tilt table test, my heart sank. I’ve had that test in the past, and I really hated the experience. I never wanted to go through that again, yet here I am. Of course, this is an irrational response. The tests are important – they will help the doctor to know which action to take.

Finally, I’m scheduled to meet with the doctor in three weeks’ time – to go over the results of the tests.

On my way home, and throughout the rest of the day, I had a positive feeling about the doctor’s visit. The NP or PA (I can’t remember which) that I met with before talking with the doc was so nice. He listened. Not only that, but he seemed to comprehend what I was talking about. He wasn’t rushed. It seemed like he believed me and had confidence in me. Sometimes doctors give off a skeptical air. I have been going through that a lot lately. When you are a woman in her forties with good heart health, good cholesterol, good triglycerides, good thyroid, and good arteries, then it is hard for doctors to conceive why you are having chest pain! This is frustrating because the symptoms I’m experiencing are real. We do have to be our own advocates sometimes!

Anyway – though I can get frustrated, I left feeling pretty hopeful. I knew that the doctor wasn’t telling me I was crazy. I knew that he needed to simply get information. He needs to see the problem enough to know how to fix it.

Fast forward to last night. I was overcome. Overcome with doubt, fear, and frustration. I was overcome with impatience. Three more weeks of tests and waiting!?!?! I was overcome because I just want to get back to normal life. I want to actually interact with and homeschool my kids (right now my husband and oldest daughter – who is graduated – are doing the load). I want to be a mother to my family. I want to go outside and run. I want to do yoga. I am an active person, and I’ve been nearly bedridden. I want to do those things now! I want the fix now! I want to get back to life and I want to get after it!!!

Being overcome led to more doubts, more fears, more frustration. I lost hope and cheer. I was “down in the dumps.” I tried not to dwell on it too much. I knew that I couldn’t really solve the problem last night. Instead, I could distract myself from it for a little bit until I was in a better state of mind. So I did (by looking at pretty quilts and funny comics). Then I went to bed.

NOW…

It’s morning. I feel happy. I feel hopeful. And I feel overwhelmed by the tender mercies of the Lord. I am studying the Psalm of Nephi just as I’m going through my own harrowing experience! The Lord is helping to direct my path – so I can learn to persevere and overcome temptation and sin. So I can learn how to stay “of good cheer.”

okay. So onto the scripture study.

So – as a quick recap. First, Nephi grieved as he recognized his sin and the subsequent loss of the Spirit. Nephi’s sorrowing was poignant and genuine, but he didn’t allow himself to wallow in it. Instead, he stated: Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. After making this mental shift – he began to rejoice in the Lord. That brings us to where we are today.

Nephi Asks Himself a Few Questions

After recounting all of the experiences he has had with the lord, Nephi asks himself:

Question One – If I have seen so many great things, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?

This is a good question to ask. If you are going through a hard time, then do what Nephi has done – remind yourself of your testimony and experiences with the Lord. Then ask yourself, if I have this testimony, and I have experienced these great things, then why should my heart weep?

Maybe I should have read this last night.

Why should I let my heart weep? I know that the Lord is involved in the details of my life! I have experienced too many tender mercies, too many miracles to deny this fact. The Lord has always helped me to find a way through every problem. I have been living deux ex machina, as He keeps providing miraculous fixes from out of nowhere in my life.

I may not be done with my trial yet, but I know that the Lord is involved in these details of my life, and His involvement is helping me get through every step. Everything is hard, but everything keeps working out in the nick of time.

So why should my heart weep? There are physical impacts on letting my spirit sink. It is stressful to my body. And then my physical, mental, and spiritual resolve all slacken. And this, just because of the trial I face now…when I know that the Lord will deliver me in due time – just as He has every time!

Question Two – And Why Should I Yield to Sin, because of My Flesh?

Another good question. Why should we yield to sin? Yes, we are beings of flesh, but we are also spirit sons and daughters of God.

We don’t have to be subject to the irrational whims of the flesh.

Of course, it isn’t easy, but there are evidences of people putting mind over matter all the time.

In fact, I would wager that anyone who is reading this can think of a time in their own lives when they have put their minds and wills over the urges of the flesh. Nearly every good thing in life requires such discipline.

I will mention my own experience – the one that comes first. Years ago, I ran a marathon. That was mind over matter to the nth degree for me. No one really, naturally wants to run a marathon. Pheidippides himself didn’t set out to run 26.2 miles for fun. He had a message to deliver. Everyone reaches a point in the marathon where their body is asking, “why are we doing this? This is too hard. Stop! We can’t do this. Sit down! Eat a taco!!!”

But the matter, our bodies, our natural man isn’t always all that smart. And our natural selves also aren’t always right. This part of us is not considering the whole picture. So, our higher self has to remind the amygdala: Fear not! Don’t worry! We’ve got this. We won’t die. We’ll cross that finish line. And we’ll be really happy.

Nephi’s flesh is what enticed him to anger against his brother. It was the primitive, amygdala at work – telling Nephi to be afraid. His brothers wanted to kill him.

And was this message completely unwarranted? No! Of course not! It’s interesting, we do need to listen to the flesh a little bit. But we just can’t use the flesh to justify sin! Laman and Lemuel were a real threat. In fact, 2 Nephi 5, we will read that Nephi flees from them. So – it’s not as if the flesh was giving Nephi this completely unreliable story. It would be so much easier to put mind over matter if “matter” didn’t make at least a little bit of sense.

We just have to remind that part of our brain, that part of our flesh that God is in charge. That we have trained for this. That we will actually be okay. We have to refrain from sin, and instead lean upon the Spirit to find the solution that will actually set us free and keep us safe.

Question Three – Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul?

Another good question to ponder when in the throes of sin and temptation.

If I would have asked myself this last night, I wouldn’t have been so forlorn.

I mean think about it. What was the purpose of me giving into temptations? Did it make my situation better? Was worrying and fretting and getting frustrated with God a good use of my time last night?

NO!

Giving into these temptations only helped Satan. He tempts us to go down this line of thought so that then then we will leave the door open for him to enter into our hearts and destroy our peace.

That’s all that was accomplished last night as I worried. I just kept worrying and worrying.

It’s so hard.

I realize that sometimes we worry because we have no solution and we need one. That was my worry last night. I felt trapped. And last night, there was no “solution” available – not yet. If I had not given into temptation, there still wouldn’t have been a solution. Right now, I’m just supposed to wait. Last night, I was just supposed to wait. Get rest.

It’s hard to wait. We talk a lot about distractions. Usually in a negative sense. While I’m not a proponent of distractions, they are really helpful in situations like these – when we just have to wait. It’s easier to be patient if we will distract ourselves from the waiting…Of course, we need to be sure that we are distracting ourselves with good things – things that will lift our spirits and bring us peace and joy as we wait.

In any case, it’s best not to give into temptation. We don’t want to let the adversary into our hearts. He only seeks to destroy.

Question Four – Why am I angry because of mine enemy?

This is an interesting question for Nephi to ask. In one way, it seems justifiable for Nephi to be angry because of his enemies (his brothers!)…they wanted to kill him!

But really, why was he angry? He knew that God had power to save him. He knew that his enemies were his enemies!

As I study this, I realize – who is the enemy? Is it Laman and Lemuel? Or is it the adversary?

In any case, why give up our precious peace of mind, contentment, joy, focus, or concentration? Why hand that over to someone who wants to destroy us? Why hand that over to Satan???

Personally, why did I let my enemy stir me up last night? Why did I give in to self-pity and pride? The devil doesn’t support his children. He stirs us up to anger, and then leaves us stewing. He doesn’t comfort us or calm us. He just increases the pain.

What’s the point? Why be angry? Why give in to his temptations and let our enemy have place in our soul???

***

This is a long post. It is personal. I hope it is helpful to someone. I’m not trying to unload my problems onto you, but I’m trying to study the scriptures. I’m also trying to illustrate the concepts I learn in concrete ways that might also help anyone reading this blog. Thanks for sticking with me!

The Psalm of Nephi (Part 3/6) – Always Remembering – 2 Nephi 4:20-25

You can read 2 Nephi 4:20-25 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • 2 Nephi 4:15-35 comprises what is commonly referred to as The Psalm of Nephi.
  • Nephi feels sorrow because he has allowed sin into his heart.
  • Nephi remembers and praises the Lord.
  • Nephi forsakes his sin.
  • Nephi petitions the Lord.

Always Remembering

This is the third part of the study of the Psalm of Nephi. You can read Part One – Nephi’s Grief – here. You can read Part Two – Nevertheless – here.

So – as a quick recap. First, Nephi grieved as he recognized his sin and the subsequent loss of the Spirit. Nephi’s sorrowing was poignant and genuine, but he didn’t allow himself to wallow in it. Instead, he stated: Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

The shift – from feeling grief to remembering God, was critical. Satan can tempt us to self-loathe and even self destruct when we feel the grief and sadness that accompanies sin. He wants us to forget about our Savior.

Isn’t that interesting. It is what we covenant to do. Always remembering Him, I’m finding, is so much more than some chore or commandment. It’s the secret! It’s the secret to repentance, joy, and hope in life.

This is what Nephi does next. He goes from grieving his sin to remembering God, to rejoicing in Him.

Nephi stated: I know in whom I have trusted.…Let’s see who that is.

Verse 20 – Support, Guidance, Preservation

“My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.” – 2 Nephi 4:20

Nephi took the time to remember that God supported him. We have the record. It may be an abridgment, but we have enough to know that indeed, God supported Nephi, Lehi, and their entire family.

The Lord led Nephi’s family through the wilderness with the Liahona.

Not only that, but we know that Nephi was preserved when they were traveling on the water. First of all, the Lord taught Nephi how to build a boat. Then, the Lord preserved them, even when Nephi’s brothers started getting naughty.

Verse 21 – Filled with Love

“He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.” – 2 Nephi 4:21

Nephi remembered a time when the Lord’s love so filled him, his flesh was consumed. I have a few ideas on when this could have happened, but I’m not completely sure. Maybe when Nephi saw the vision of the tree of life? Maybe when he was with his brothers and shocked them.

The real point is, Nephi’s spiritual experiences were also physical experiences. He knows God’s love – not only in his mind and heart, but even physically.

Nephi took the time to remember these experiences here.

Verse 22 – Confounded Enemies

“He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.” – 2 Nephi 4:22

Nephi remembered a time when the Lord confounded his enemies (his brothers!) – and caused them to shake. We can recall this as well – when Nephi was commanded to build a boat, his brothers argued with him and tried to cast him into the sea. The Lord filled Nephi with power, commanded Nephi to stretch forth his hand, and when Nephi did, his brothers quaked before him.

During this prayer, the Psalm of Nephi, Nephi took the time to remember when the Lord empowered him against his enemies. (Not only is this a good experience for Nephi to remember, but it has direct application to the problem that Nephi was facing. Nephi didn’t need to get so angry or worry about his brothers. The Lord would protect Nephi as long as Nephi continued to be faithful and quality for the companionship of the Spirit.)

Verse 23-25 – Listened to Prayers, Gave Revelations

“Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.

And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.

And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.” – 2 Nephi 4:23-25

In these verses, Nephi recalled the times that he prayed to God, how the Lord listened to him, and then how the Lord answered his prayers. The Lord revealed to Nephi. The Lord sent angels to teach Nephi. And Nephi is reminding himself of these experiences.

Application

Okay…so as I write this, I’m thinking about the act of remembering. Nephi is remembering specific experiences he has had with the Lord.

I think that I have made a mistake when it comes to remembering the Savior. There is a primary song that sometimes plays through my head during the sacrament:

“It shouldn’t be hard to sit very still
And think about Jesus, His cross on the Hill;
And all that He suffered and did for me;
It should’t be hard to sit quietly.
It shouldn’t be hard, even though I am small,
To think about Jesus, not hard at all.” – To Think About Jesus

When I think of “always remembering Him.” I think of this – thinking about Christ’s life, His suffering, His death. I think of remembering that He created this earth. I think of remembering what I have read in the scriptures.

Those aren’t bad to think about. But they are abstract. And, you know…I’m not sure it is always a strong enough experience to really change my heart when I’m sorrowing as Nephi sorrowed.

When Nephi remembered the Savior, he didn’t think abstractly about the Savior. He thought of his own personal spiritual experiences. He remembered the interactions he had with the Savior and His spirit.

Perhaps it is helpful for you (and for me) to take a moment right now to do that. Think of a spiritual experience that you have had in the past. Think of the circumstances. Think of your pleading. Think of His help. Think of how you felt. Maybe even take a moment to write down as much as you can about the experience.

I’ll share a simple one. This is recent. In the summer and into the fall, I was having heart issues. To make matters worse, I’m also having issues with my insurance provider. Back in October, my cardiologist ordered an angiogram. It was scheduled for a Wednesday morning.

I arrived at the hospital, fasted, at Six AM. I checked in and sat down. Situation normal. About fifteen minutes later, one of the hospital staff called my name. She explained that the insurance had not approved the procedure! She asked if I knew. I told her I had no idea. That this was the first I had heard about it.

She kindly explained that sometimes mistakes are made. She told me to keep waiting, as she tried to get in touch with my insurance company and the doctor’s office.

So I waited.

I had to wait a while because it was so early – neither the insurance company nor the doctors offices were open yet.

I waited. And for the most part I waited patiently. But inwardly, I was frustrated. The heart situation was stressful enough, why did the insurance have to be a bother? Why couldn’t this be easier??? Why did the Lord let this happen? You have to understand, at the time, my family and I were already under great stress. This just threw me over the edge.

Of course, I knew that it was asinine for me to blame God. I also knew that I needed to trust Him. I said a silent prayer to apologize, then started looking up funny memes to put me in a better mood.

Eventually, it was discovered that the doctors office would have to try again to get the insurance company to approve the procedure, but that would take at least another day. I explained to the hospital staff that I was having chest pain. She immediately talked to my physician, and it was decided to admit me through the ER.

I had the angiogram.

After the procedure, my doctor chatted with me for a moment. It was disconcerting because he came to a conclusion that seemed so far off from the problem. To his credit – I had been under the care of the Nurse Practitioner. This time I didn’t get angry with God. I just knew that I needed to be my own advocate with the doctor, and that if necessary I would simply get a second opinion.

At 11AM, about ten minutes after the short chat with the doctor, my nurse practitioner happened to walk by. A rep had brought some free lunch to the cath lab, and so they called my NP to come by and get some – even though he was at the offices in the next building. I smiled at him, and when he recognized me, he stopped to chat.

I told him the results – that the angio is normal. “Great!” he said. “You’re heart is healthy, and the problem is electrical. Maybe it is just a pacemaker you need!”

His response was exactly what I had been expecting! I felt comforted. As I reflected on this experience, I realized had my angio been performed as scheduled, then I wouldn’t have seen my NP – I would have been out of the cath lab long before 11 AM.

I recognized the tender mercy. Not only was I getting a procedure that I needed performed to help the doctors discover my condition, but the Lord was also throwing in a tender mercy – I would be able to chat with my NP, who was updated on my whole history.

I knew that the doctor would have come to the same conclusion later, but it would have been after I went home. The Lord spared me from stress (and finding a new doctor). I recognized that the Lord really loves us and is involved in the details of our lives. We just need to trust Him.

***Now***

The point of sharing this experience didn’t have to do with the experience. Instead, it was about the act of remembering. As I wrote that experience down – and really remembered as many details as possible – I was reminded of the great love that Heavenly Father has for me. I was reminded of the miracles and grace that I experience in my daily life. My love grew for Him as I remembered His love for me.

Remembering the Savior and the experiences we have with Him helps us to feel hopeful and happy! It changes our moods. It reinforces the good experiences we felt originally.

I’m so grateful for Nephi’s example. When we are experiencing sorrow – whether it is from our own sin or from other thing that has happened to us, we can choose to remember in whom we have trusted. We can choose to remember our Lord specifically. We can think of the experiences we have had where we have felt his love, his guidance, his protection, etc. We can let those experiences re-root themselves in our souls. As we do so, the joy and love of Christ fills our hearts – immediately. No longer do we droop in sin, but we will begin to feel the joy that comes from rejoicing.

The Psalm of Nephi (Part 2/6) – Nevertheless – 2 Nephi 4:19

You can read 2 Nephi 4:19 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • 2 Nephi 4:15-35 comprises what is commonly referred to as The Psalm of Nephi.
  • Nephi feels sorrow because he has allowed sin into his heart.
  • Nephi remembers and praises the Lord.
  • Nephi forsakes his sin.
  • Nephi petitions the Lord.

Nevertheless

This is the second part of the study of the Psalm of Nephi. You can read Part One here.

In Part One, we studied the opening of the Psalm of Nephi. He is grieving because of his sin.

Today, we find a turning point. Since today’s scripture study is a single verse, I’ll just include it here:

“And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.” – 2 Nephi 4:19

My Heart Groaneth

At first in this verse, we are reading more of Nephi’s grief. When he desires to rejoice, he can’t. Instead, his heart groans. And why? Because of his sins.

I understand this. I’ve experienced this. I have committed sins, and I know that I will continue to commit sins. I know the sorrow that accompanies a sin against God.

Now, I feel like I want to investigate this further. I actually think that Satan uses this opportunity—even while we repent—to tempt us (obviously…he never stops hunting us down). Satan doesn’t want us to experience the hope of repentance and the miracle of forgiveness. Sometimes, he thwarts are attempts before we even begin. However, it is also safe to assume that he tries to thwart our repentance and then joy even during the process.

Now, I don’t mean to say that he is sitting in your ear, tempting you as you pray. I don’t know. But what I do mean to say is that often Satan is able to deceive us long before we are faced with the opportunity to make a choice. He deceives us by getting us to misunderstand the world around us, the gospel, etc. If he can distort our paradigm in which we make the choice, then he doesn’t have to work to hard on us.

For example – think of the Garden of Eden. When Satan tempted Eve, he didn’t boldly proclaim, Eat the fruit. Instead, he helped her to see that it was good for food. He caused her to misunderstand the implications of the fruit. He blurred Eve’s perceptions so that truth was mixed with falsehood, and she couldn’t really see the difference.

Eve wasn’t rebellious. She didn’t partake of the fruit because she hated God. She had bad information. Based on the bad information, she made a bad decision.

Satan employs the same tactics today. If he can give us a wrong roadmap, then he doesn’t have to tempt us – we’ll get ourselves lost. Therefore, it is important for us to study the gospel and pray for discernment.

So – back to Nephi and the groaning of his heart. It is probably important for us to understand appropriate sorrow and the role it plays in our lives. I think that Satan tries to cloud our understanding of Godly sorrow and repentance, so that we will unwittingly make mistakes and continue in misery.

About sorrow, Paul teaches:

“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” – 2 Corinthians 7:10

So, here we learn that there are two types of sorrow. Godly sorrow will lead us to repentance. Worldly sorrow only leads to death.

Let’s think about that some more. When we feel godly sorrow – sadness because we have done something that has put us at odds with Him; because we have cut ourselves off from Him, then we will be motivated to repent.

Remember – repentance is the work of turning ourselves to the Lord. I like to think of it as recalibration. Godly sorrow will inspire us to correct our courses, and then, as we repent, the natural outcome will be an increase of joy and hope. Recall Adam and Eve after they partook of the fruit:

“And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.

And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.” – Moses 5:10-11

Their transgression led to sorrow, which led to repentance. Though Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden, they faithfully did as the Lord taught them. They multiplied and replenished the earth. They gave sacrifices to the Lord as He had instructed. They kept their eyes single to God – which resulted in hope and joy despite their sin.

This is the miracle of forgiveness. Godly sorrow helps to pave the way toward such a miracle in our lives. So, though we may feel sorrowful for a moment, the Lord will bless us even in our times of sorrow as we repent, and we will be filled with joy. It’s an amazing blessing.

Worldly sorrow, on the other hand, “worketh death.” Does this mean that if we feel worldly sorrow then we’ll be pushing up daisies within days? Maybe. Maybe not. Regardless of our physical life or death, worldly sorrow will keep us separated from God, which is spiritual death. This is misery. This is discouragement. This is despondency.

Worldly sorrow offers no solution or hope. It will only engender feelings of hatred – sometimes that hatred will be inflicted on the self or on others. In any case, it’s pretty terrible.

We read of an extreme example of such worldly sorrow in the Book of Mormon:

“Thus there began to be a mourning and a lamentation in all the land because of these things, and more especially among the people of Nephi.

And it came to pass that when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people.

But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.

And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives.” – Mormon 2:11-14

Yes, we can feel sorrow when we sin. We ought to. We distance ourselves from God – the God whose nature is a nature of happiness. But when we feel Godly sorrow, He will comfort us. He will not allow our sin. He can’t. But He will offer a way for correction and atonement. We will feel joy and peace because of the opportunity to repent.

But sorrow is tricky. And when we feel sorrow for sin, I think that Satan can see a little gap for his entrance. He can tempt us to get lost in sorrow. He can tempt us to let that sorrowful emotion escalate to enmity. He can also tempt us with feelings of shame—that there is no hope for us. That the Atonement cannot help us. That we are worthless creatures because we are imperfect. He tries to get us to misunderstand the value of sorrow because then we are more apt to get lost in the misery of sorrow and shame rather than hopeful in the joy of repentance.

I’m sorry. I feel like I’ve been blabbing on and on about this for a while, but the set up is necessary. This is why I really love 2 Nephi 4:19.

I have gotten snared by Satan before. I remember once I was feeling down in the dumps. I was taking stock of my life – in a prayer – and I was apologizing. My house was a mess. I was overweight. I was feeling lonely. Etc. I can’t really remember everything, but I do remember noticing every flaw, every fault. I had no self control. I had no will power. I just couldn’t get things to work in my life.

I was apologizing for me in my prayer. The more I prayed, the worse I felt. I finally finished the prayer feeling like I was carrying a 1,000 pound weight…I wondered why do I pray when I just feel so terrible afterward.

I went out for a run afterward, and I was listening to a conference talk. I don’t really remember what the talk was about, but I do remember that the Spirit (thankfully!) spoke to my soul. The reason I felt so terrible after that prayer was because THE SPIRIT wouldn’t say Amen to it. Everything I was saying, my worldly sorrow and self-pity drove the Spirit away. I may have thought I was praying, but the Lord didn’t see it that way. His Spirit will not bear false witness. If it had let me feel better after a prayer of so much self-loathing, then it would have been lying.

I learned if I wanted to feel better after prayers, then I needed to be saying the things that would be sanctioned by the Spirit of God.

And this is where Nephi comes in.

He’s feeling pretty terrible (O wretched man that I am!). He is frustrated by his yielding to sin. He knows better. He is identifying his weakness and sin.

His heart was groaning.

Nevertheless

I don’t know about Nephi. I don’t know if he was tempted in this moment, but I know that I have said more than one prayer where my heart groaned. The example that I shared above is where my heart groaned and groaned and groaned. But at some point, I forgot God.

In verse 19, the timber of the prayer changes. Nephi utters the words: nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted. Nephi may not be perfect. He may give into sin. But he has always trusted God.

Instead of going down a spiral of self-loathing and heart groaning, Nephi makes the choice to stop! He chooses to be confident in his trust in God. He chooses to remember God.

This phrase, nevertheless, I know in whom I’ve trusted, is the moment when the momentum shifts from a downward spiral into hope. There is still more work to be done, and we will study more of Nephi’s prayer in blog posts to follow. But verse 19 is a pivot point.

This is a long post, so I’ll wrap up. But I wanted to take the time to recognize this verse and the pivot that Nephi made. I don’t know everything about Nephi, maybe one day in the sky we’ll be able to talk to him. But I know how I am. I know that Satan will do all he can to be sure that if I sin, I won’t kneel down and pray. And if I do kneel down and pray, he doesn’t give up. He wants us to feel so terrible that we doubt the efficacy of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

It is easy for me to get caught in this trap…and when I feel tempted to go down the path of self-loathing and worldly, inconsolable sorrow, then I repeat the mantra: nevertheless, I know in whom I’ve trusted.

That phrase – it’s a game changer!

Delight – 2 Nephi 4:15-16

You can read 2 Nephi 4:15-16 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi writes the things of the soul and the scriptures on the small plates.
  • His soul delights in the scriptures.
  • His heart ponders the scriptures.
  • He writes the scriptures for the learning and profit of his children.
  • His soul delights in the things of the Lord.
  • He continually ponders on the things that he has seen and heard.

Delight

We learn a little bit about Nephi and what he likes in these verses:

“And upon these I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children.

Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.” – 2 Nephi 4:15-16

Nephi likes the scriptures. He likes pondering the scriptures, writing them, and teaching his children. Nephi soul delights in the things of the Lord. His likes pondering them continually.

I don’t think that Nephi is bragging here. (In fact, this is actually an interlude to a frustration that he has with himself. He loves the Lord, He loves the truth. He loves the principles of the gospel. He writes about them. He has been taught by God. He teaches his children…YET he struggles! We will talk about this next time.) For now, I just want to think about these things that Nephi likes and learn from them.

A Different Direction

You know, when I started this blog post, I thought that I’d go through this list of things that we could learn about Nephi, the things of the Lord, pondering, etc. At first, my intentions were going to be really scripture-y and impressive.

But, this is my actual scripture study, so I sincerely try to follow the Spirit as best as I can. Usually, it means real “scripture-y” scripture study. I love that. I really do love diving deep into the scriptures and learning what I can. I love pondering the things of the Lord.

I mean, I’ve been looking forward to these verses for a while! Because, like Nephi, I really like pondering the scriptures.

But…that’s not what’s happening for me today. The Spirit seems to be pointing me elsewhere.

Sharing Time

Okay. This is a personal blog. I’m going to be personal. You have been warned in advance.

I write these blogs a few months before they actually publish. So I’m writing on October 19th. Since September 27th, I have been experiencing heart attack symptoms, but no heart attack (I’ve gone to the ER, etc.) I have been seeing my cardiologist, and now I have an appointment to see an EP (Electrophysiologist – who specializes in the electrical workings of the heart). I have some electrical heart problems. I don’t want to get into that right now.

The point is – since late September/early October, I’ve been basically sitting around all day. Any time I’m getting too much activity, and my heart rate goes up, I start to have really acute and painful chest pain, jaw pain, left arm pain, neck pain, indigestion, palpitations, etc. It’s actually a little scary.

I don’t know what is going on exactly, but I know that I have to remain somewhat inactive until my doctors can sort everything out – which I also feel comforted – will be soon.

Anyway!

Having these kinds of physical experiences can be alarming. They also give you the chance to really think about what is important.

Life really is precious. Most likely I’ll be getting a pacemaker or something that can help my heart. And then, I’ll be fine. But I realize that if it wasn’t for these modern times or technology, I wouldn’t have much time left on earth.

The fact is, none of us know how much time we have left on earth. I am truly grateful for this health scare because it has given me the chance to really think.

And here I am, studying the scriptures today. I know that very soon, my heart will be rectified. And even now, before it is rectified – I don’t want to waste a single precious day of my life.

Prioritizing

So how do we do that? How do we live our lives in a way that we don’t waste them? Do we “live every day like it’s our last?”

Probably not quite that. Usually people say that, or shout “YOLO!” to excuse bad behavior. (Think: eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!). So – we want to be aware of our mortality, and take advantage of our living days. But we don’t want to take it to an extreme that we are wasting this precious life on bad decisions.

So – then on the other hand – we have a lot of people who are “putting off” living life. Maybe it’s because we have to earn a living. Maybe we “put off” life because we have chores to do. Maybe we just end up putting off life because we are distracted by the crazy pace of this world. No matter the reason, it seems that when we put off living our lives, we don’t feel all that happy.

Now, I am willing to guess that most of us have some days where we shout “YOLO!” and then do something crazy. (My teenage years!) I also think that many of us lack the motivation to act, promising ourselves that we will “start tomorrow.” Often, we bounce between the two. But the real goal is to live with purpose. To me (and for the purpose of this blog), this means that we will have the right amount of chores (we need to live) and also activities that nourish us.

ANYWAY! You get the idea. I don’t need to get into all of that here. It’s just background and set up.

The thing that is hard for us to do is prioritize. We have chores we need to do. That’s a part of life. And there is value in it. Additionally, there is so much that can pass us by if we aren’t willing to love life enough to get after it.

I don’t know how to help you prioritize, but maybe just start with a clean slate.

My life is a clean slate right now.

My family and I intend to move off of the mainland soon. We have no home. We have no beds, shelves, or furniture of any kind. We have no dishes, cutlery, towels. We have no winter coats, we have small wardrobes. Our family of six can fit everything we own into the back of an SUV with room to spare.

Our living conditions felt extreme enough, but now, I don’t have any obligations because of my heart. I sit and stitch and watch Netflix. I have time to think.

Soon, I’ll have a new lease on life with my heart. Soon, we’ll have a home and stability. And I’m so grateful for this chance I have to think of what will fill my slate before it gets overloaded with junk.

I need to prioritize now before my life just starts filling up and I find myself crushed by the “junk” of life.

So back to the scriptures

So…back to the scripture. We read what Nephi loves. And I feel the Spirit guiding me to ponder – what do I love? What do I delight in?

I have discovered that the things I like can be boiled down to a few topics:

Creating. Learning. Loving. Living.

Creating

I delight in creating. Creating can be done in so many ways – the arts, movement, a dish, a garden. Creating brings me joy, and in a way I think that I could argue every topic (creating, learning, loving, and living) are just different ways to create…But we’ll just go with this for now.

If I have a blank slate that needs to be filled with only the essential, then creating would be one of the first things to be included.

 

superstar medallion quilt
I love to quilt. I love color. I love cutting up fabric to sew it back together and make a quilt. Oh – and besides – quilting is a great way to not only create, but serve. Who doesn’t love a quilt??? Each measurement, cut, and stitch is done with love.
velma
Writing. Here is a picture of an illustration for a book I wrote for my kids.
the messiah
Singing in choirs. I’m not a soloist, but I like to sing praises to God – and the Messiah is my all time favorite.
stitching
Stitching! I love embroidery. I love wool. And I LOVE the beautiful materials for embroidery – hand dyed silk, cotton, wool. So much joy in this!!!
log cabin
Color. This is part of why I love quilting. I just love playing with color.
drawing
Drawing. This is the sketch for the cat that I painted above.
granny sqaures
Crochet – again it’s all about fun colors and keeping my hands busy. Well, and making.
coneflower
See how pretty!!!
clair de lune
I love playing the piano as well. It quiets everything down in my mind.

Learning

I also love learning. Really, I do. My heart skips a beat when I have an epiphany. (hmmm…really need to get the heart metaphors figured out these days!) In all seriousness, life is richer when we obtain more knowledge. Knowledge of God is eternal life. And God – He is in everything. I love, love, love to learn. And I know that it can be done in a myriad of ways.

 

nature journal
Hiking, observing, drawing, and identifying are things I really like to do to learn. These practices have helped me to enjoy every place I’ve lived. Pictured above: A little wildflower called Globemallow – in Phoenix, AZ.
homeschool prep
This is what homeschool prep looked like one year. I love the whole process – finding books, buying books, and then piling them up. Of course, best of all, is actually reading them with my kids and learning! I have learned so much while homeschooling my kiddos.
provo temple spire
The temple is a place of learning. This is the Provo City Temple.
gilbert temple side
I’ve been fortunate to live in various places throughout the country that have had temples relatively close by (the farthest I’ve lived from a temple was 238 miles – a four-ish hour drive). What I’ve learned through regular temple attendance cannot be quantified.
sleeping baby monk seal
Learning through observation in the various places we’ve lived included moments like these – seeing a baby monk seal snoozing.
aristotle
Aristotle – not that I know much about this guy…but I admire his dedication to knowledge.

Loving

This might be a strange “topic,” but one of the things I delight in the most is the act of delighting. Not sure if that makes sense!

I delight in loving experiences, family, friends, and life.

 

rose hips2
Rose hips collected after a hike. I love rose hips. I don’t know why. They are beautiful. There isn’t really a time when I hike or walk that I don’t find something to put in my pocket. Even though I don’t end up doing much with these collections (seeds, shells, leaves, etc), I think the very act makes me love everything even more.
hornstra farms ice cream
I love this boy. I love ice cream. I love experiences like these. I love Hornstra Farms in Norwell, Massachusetts. (Trust me – AMAZING). And taking the time to delight in my love for my son, ice cream, and Hornstra farms increases the delight!
Christmas Goodies
An important aspect of loving – is serving. Here is a plate of Christmas goodies we delivered one year. I also delight in goodies. So baking and then taking goodies to loved ones is a double delight.
christmas
I delight in being a mother. I really love creating moments like this for my kiddos. Isn’t this just magical?
basil and parm
There is nothing more delightful than parmesan cheese and basil…the possibilities AND DELIGHT are endless. Better yet – invite loved ones over and enjoy an amazing meal together. (Yes…I have Italian blood).
bake sale with chase
Not only are there cookies and one of my children in this photo, but I was able to delight in the delight of my children. My daughter, Sasquatch, is a business minded mini-entrepreneur. We had a bake sale one day (success!), and she was so happy. It took time and effort from me and everyone else in the family, but the rewards far exceeded the cost.
grand canyon and fam
I love delighting in this earth with my loved ones. I love showing them the things I love. Exponential delight.
tiger and panda
I love seeing my kids develop loving relationships with each other. These two fill my heart with joy. This pic is at least 10 years old. They grow too fast! My heart delights in the love they have for each other.
Rex
This is my youngest after he ate ice cream for the first time. I love showing my love by spending time with my children. And look how I was rewarded!
me and sasquatch
Me and my little Sasquatch. The days when she snuggles on my lap and sucks her “thumby” are long gone. But I delighted in simple moments like these. And I’m grateful that I have been blessed with so many of them.
halloween
A bunch of happy kids on halloween. I love them. And I love being able to love them! There is so much love in this world around us. I prefer love and beauty.

Living

The other things that I delight in are what I include in the “living” category. They are the things that we do that help us enjoy life. They are the things that we do that are worth every breath and heartbeat. I want so much of this in my life. I want to be sure that the non-living idols and distractions of our time are not sneakily sucking my life away from me.

the beach
My soul delights in the beach. Sunrises. Sunsets. Ocean spray. Sea shells.
walking in midway
My soul delights in summer days. This was in Midway, Utah – one of my favorite places on earth.  I loved walking through town and seeing swatches of flowers along fence posts.
sunflower blooming
My soul delights in the small miracles we pas every single day. Here is a series of pictures of a sunflower getting ready to bloom.
purple mustard
My soul delights in beauty. Instead of seeing random weeds, I choose to see purple mustard blooming in open fields. I love to bend down, inspect, and glory in the simple blessings God has given us. I’m not always the best at this, but I’ve learned that it makes all of life more glorious.
oak leaves
My soul delights in leaves, seasons, nature. I thank my Heavenly Father that He has instilled in me a need for movement. These leaves were collected on one of my many walks when we lived in Park City. Walking is kind of a secret to life. Walking makes this world a delight.
hiking with family
My soul delights in exploring the world around us. My family and I took a hike one summer evening in Moab, Utah.
hiking
Even hiking in the desert can be a delight!
collected leaves
My soul delights in color! Look at the treasures I found while on a run – when we lived in Massachusetts. Red Oak leaves, Orange and scarlet maple leaves, neon yellow gingko leaves, and a dark green sassafras leaf.
clover in a crack
My soul delights in noticing the small and simple things. My soul delights in the perfect imperfections. My soul delights in a plucky clover growing in the crack of a brick path.
blue flax and sweetvetch
My soul delights in wildflowers. You can find them anywhere – in fields, on roadsides, and in yards that have been fertilized and treated. They are in cities, on mountains, in forests, and on beaches. This is a picture of blue flax and sweet vetch. If you aren’t careful, you might run right past them. Or, if you choose to delight in them, you can find them even on the most difficult path.
baking
My soul delights in cannoli.
as seen on the run
My soul delights in short runs, long runs, fast runs, slow runs. Running – putting foot to ground – can be like a prayer. It’s especially rewarding when you can run in places like this.
Playing in the Ocean
My soul delights in the example set by our children. Look at how unabashed they are in life! Sometimes I forget to splash the water, move my body, laugh, and smile. But children remind us to live in the present and delight in life, itself.

I realize that this isn’t all that scripture-y of a post. But, it is just what I needed. I’m having trouble – sitting and not letting my heart get too tired out – it’s boring! It makes me feel like I’m wasting my life away. When I start to feel down about it, I feel tempted to think that God has abandoned me (to an extent).

The Lord, though He hasn’t delivered me, hasn’t abandoned me either. In today’s scripture study, I was reminded of what I love. I was reminded of what I like to do.

I feel inspired on what I can do now (there ARE things I can do now) AND how I ought to fill my life when I can again do the things that I would like to do.

***
This is one of the purposes of the scriptures – to help us, guide us, and comfort us during our afflictions. The scriptures have been a way that the Lord speaks to me – time and time again. I’m sure it would have been interesting to dive deep into what these scriptures in 2 Nephi 4:15-16 mean, but it was more meaningful to do as the Spirit prompted.

Thanks for coming along with me on this journey today.

Trouble in Paradise – 2 Nephi 4:13-14

You can read 2 Nephi 4:13-14 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • After Lehi’s death, Laman and Lemuel are angry with Nephi – because of the Lord’s admonitions.
  • Nephi was constrained by the Spirit of God to speak to them – most likely a warning.

Trouble in Paradise

Well, it shouldn’t come to a surprise to any of us that as soon as Lehi dies trouble brews between Nephi and his brothers. We read:

“And it came to pass that not many days after his death, Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the admonitions of the Lord.

For I, Nephi, was constrained to speak unto them, according to his word; for I had spoken many things unto them, and also my father, before his death; many of which sayings are written upon mine other plates; for a more history part are written upon mine other plates.” – 2 Nephi 4:13-14

Nephi Was Constrained

First of all, a quick reminder on the definition of the word constrained:

Constrain: (verb)
appearing forced or overly controlled

Before blogging the Book of Mormon, I think that when I read that Nephi was “constrained” to speak to his brothers, I underestimated the severity of this spiritual impression. I also underestimated, or even forgot, Nephi’s responsibility to God.

I’ve never been in the Nephi was an annoying younger brother camp. Mainly because I think that it is an over-simplistic view, and it doesn’t match with what we know about Nephi. I’m even the oldest in my family. I have plenty of younger siblings. They have all excelled in various ways beyond my capabilities. My siblings are smarter, funnier, and more successful than I am. And rarely am in charge. In fact, I was shorter than my next sibling by the time I was four.

In other words, my siblings were the ones that were “large in stature.” Not me.

This isn’t to say that I don’t lead. Of course I have been a leader in my family. I had to babysit when I was a kid (like every oldest child – no big deal). I had the opportunity to be a cheerleader and help get my siblings excited about something or the opposite. Usually, I just “led” my siblings to do weird things like make potty jokes and sing weird songs that would annoy the grown ups of the house.

Often, I did treat my siblings poorly. We fought from time to time – especially when playing video games. I know I started some of those fights. I certainly didn’t prevent many fights. And, there may have been more punching (on my part) than I would like to admit.

My point is, I don’t want to make it sound like I was perfect. I wasn’t. I tried to be a nice sister because I loved my siblings, but we were also real.

Anyway, my family didn’t have the dynamic of Lehi’s family. So, it’s hard to really compare my family with his.

But I want to say that, as an oldest sibling, I have never been bothered or jealous of the wins and successes of my siblings. I was proud when my sister went on a mission. I love that my brother is a great cook. I know that my other younger brothers are much funnier than me. It doesn’t bother me that I have a brother that runs, we share this love. I went to a simple state college, and was not threatened (instead excited) when younger siblings were awarded entry and scholarships to really good schools.

The successes of my siblings have no bearing on my self worth. I love them and rejoice in their wins. Additionally, I know that the Lord doesn’t have a limited supply of blessings. We don’t have to compete for God’s blessings or love.

All of this shapes how I feel about Nephi. I don’t think that he was trying to be some annoying “know-it-all” younger brother. He knew the Lord. He loved his brothers. He forgave them time and time and time again. He never exercised power over them.

Instead, he was constrained by God to correct them.

Let’s think about this for a second:

One
Nephi was a special witness of the Savior. In 1 Nephi 11, Nephi sees the vision of the tree of life and its meaning. Nephi sees the coming of the Savior. Nephi sees a vision of Christ’s life on the earth. After this experience, Nephi doesn’t merely have faith, he has knowledge. Even before showing Nephi this vision, the Angel warned:

“And behold this thing shall be given unto thee for a sign, that after thou hast beheld the tree which bore the fruit which thy father tasted, thou shalt also behold a man descending out of heaven, and him shall ye witness; and after ye have witnessed him ye shall bear record that it is the Son of God.” – 1 Nephi 11:7

The knowledge that Nephi both sought and obtained came with responsibility. He not only had to qualify for such knowledge with faith, but he also had to have real intent – meaning that he intended to live according to the knowledge that he received.

If Nephi wanted to be nurtured by the Spirit, then he had to nurture the Spirit in his soul. This is done by obedience to the whisperings and promptings of the Spirit that we receive.

So, Nephi couldn’t be a wallflower. He knew too much. He couldn’t stand back while his brothers were plotting to kill his father. He couldn’t just pretend that Laman’s and Lemuel’s exceeding rudeness were okay. The Spirit wouldn’t let him.

It wasn’t Nephi that wanted to correct his brothers, It was a commandment from God given to Nephi to go and correct his brothers.

Think of how this usually ends for Nephi: getting beat, getting tied up and dragged into the wilderness, nearly getting pushed off a cliff, getting tied up on a boat. Do you really think that Nephi enjoyed these experiences? Do you really think that Nephi liked correcting his brothers – knowing that it would result in abuse?

nephi-laman-lemuel-ropes-d61da2-gallery.jpg

Of course not!

I wouldn’t have wanted to be Nephi.

But Nephi always obeys the Spirit. He corrects his brothers. He does this out of his devotion to God. And probably his love for his brothers. (Even though eventually he refers to them as enemies. But hey – he loves his enemies!)

The point here is, because Nephi was a special witness of the Savior and because Nephi was a devoted disciple of Christ, he knew he had to obey, or then he would be sinning.

Two
Lehi reminded Laman and Lemuel:

“Rebel no more against your brother, whose views have been glorious, and who hath kept the commandments from the time that we left Jerusalem; and who hath been an instrument in the hands of God, in bringing us forth into the land of promise; for were it not for him, we must have perished with hunger in the wilderness; nevertheless, ye sought to take away his life; yea, and he hath suffered much sorrow because of you.” – 2 Nephi 1:24

Laman and Lemuel can think of what they want about Nephi. Modernly, we can deride Nephi and imply that he was a know-it-all younger brother. HOWEVER, without Nephi, all of Lehi’s company – both Lehi’s family and Ishmael’s family – would have died in the wilderness with hunger.

Nephi got the brass plates.

Nephi made a new bow and hunted food in the wilderness.

Nephi built a boat.

He wasn’t just some know it all trying to correct his brothers at every chance. He wanted to get out of the wilderness and get to the promised land!!!!!! He lived worthy of the Spirit, and that Spirit constrained him to admonish his brothers.

Admonitions

I really should probably have ended this blog post already, but I want to say one thing about the word “admonition.” When I read the following verse, I think that I have misunderstood it in the past:

“And it came to pass that not many days after his death, Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the admonitions of the Lord.” – 2 Nephi 4:13

For some reason, I don’t have the right connotation of the word “admonition.” I’m trying to think of where my misunderstanding stems. I think that it is from the 13th article of faith – when I think of the phrase “the admonition of Paul.”

In a way, I have kind of mistakenly signified the word “admonition” to mean something like “doctrine.” I tend to define the “admonition of Paul” as the directives or doctrine of Paul – to believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things.

I tend to mentally define the scripture in 2 Nephi as “…Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the doctrines of the Lord.”

In both cases, I realize, I’m wrong.

(This is why the dictionary is such an important tool in scripture study. If we misunderstand a word, then we can misunderstand an entire concept).

Instead, admonition means the act of admonishing. Okay…that already starts to feel different. Laman and Lemuel, the sons of Ishmael: they didn’t dislike God’s doctrine. They disliked God’s admonishing.

What is admonishing? To warn or reprimand someone firmly.

Paul’s admonition isn’t just some fun little doctrine. It’s a warning: Believe all things, hope all things, endure all things…It’s strong advice that will keep us safe!

Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael…they weren’t angry about God’s doctrine. They were angry because of the warnings of the Lord. They were angry with the warning words that Lehi left them with (keep the commandments and prosper; don’t keep the commandments, be cut off!). They are like toddlers, but the anger that they have against these sound warnings will have deleterious effects.

Wrapping Up

This is along blog post. I will wrap it up now. But I feel that these things are important for us to recognize. Understanding these things helps me to consider my own discipleship. Do I get angry at the warnings and gentle correction of God? Do I get angry at the messengers of God’s word?

Do I have charity, and rejoice in truth – even if the truth is I have made a mistake and need correction?

Lehi – A Goodly Parent – 2 Nephi 4:5-12

You can read 2 Nephi 4:5-12 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Shortly before Lehi’s death, he blesses his grandchildren a final time.
  • Lehi passes away.

Lehi—A Goodly Parent

Well, we’ve been studying the Book of Mormon for a while now. I have spent months with Lehi, Sariah, and the rest of their family. And now, in 2 Nephi 4:12, Lehi passes away. As I read of his death, I am reminded the opening of the Book of Mormon:

“I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father;…” – 1 Nephi 1:1

Nephi was born of “goodly” parents. As we have been studying the life of Lehi and Nephi and their family, we can see that this was true.

I did a quick search and found that goodly basically means what we think it means. During archaic times this word was especially used to mean attractive, excellent, or admirable. I feel that this is probably what Nephi meant.

So – for today, I think that I will ponder some of the points that made Lehi a goodly parent. Also, I’m going to lump Sariah into these points. Cultures and practices were different anciently. I don’t know why women weren’t as included, but it just didn’t happen. Perhaps it was because people were more sexist back in olden times (or at least what we would perceive to be). But perhaps it isn’t that simple. Maybe in ancient times, especially in a culture like Nephi’s, they considered the whole unit – husband and wife – as one unit. Perhaps marriage partners weren’t as individualistic as today’s are (especially in the U.S.)? Most likely, the lack of female inclusion is a combination of many different things.

I don’t know.

But, for myself, I’m going to consider Lehi and Sariah as a package. Lehi wouldn’t have been who he was without her. And Sariah wouldn’t have been who she was without him. Not only do partners shape their marriage, but the marriage shapes them. So, as I write about Lehi, remember that I consider Sariah to be at his side. I consider them companions.

One – Lehi and Sariah were Disciples of Jehovah

Lehi Comforts Sariah

When the Book of Mormon opens, we read of a deeply spiritual experience of Lehi’s. His conversion to the Lord increases, and he is called to be a prophet.

Lehi is righteous and is willing to keep the commandments of God.

Additionally, we can infer that Sariah was also righteously devoted to the Lord. She let her husband preach! This was a dangerous and difficult time to be preaching as he did, but he was supported in it.

Two – Lehi and Sariah Faithfully Protected Their Family

Lehis begins Journey

Lehi’s willingness to keep the commandments of God and preach to the people of Jerusalem ends up putting him and his entire family in danger. The people of Jerusalem want to kill him.

I believe that the threat to Lehi’s life was immediate. In other words, had Lehi stayed in Jerusalem, I am not sure that he would have lived to see it destroyed. I think that he would have been killed beforehand. Perhaps his entire family would have been targeted.

God warns Lehi in a dream to flee, and he does.

One interesting note: this method of “protection” may not seem all that intuitive or conventional. Lehi protects his family by taking them into the dangerous wilderness! The thing to keep in mind is that Lehi trusts the Lord, and this is the best protection any parent can offer to their children.

Additionally, it is good to note that Sariah also aided in this protection. Lehi didn’t pack the camels, family, and provisions himself. He had the help of his wife. She didn’t receive the revelation, but she supported him, and in this way she also protected the family.

Three – Lehi Provided for His Family

In 1 Nephi, we read:

“…And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness.” – 1 Nephi 2:4

Additionally, when Nephi and his brothers travel back to Jerusalem to get the plates from Laban, we read that they gathered up their old treasures to buy them:

“Wherefore, let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; therefore let us go down to the land of our father’s inheritance, for behold he left gold and silver, and all manner of riches. And all this he hath done because of the commandments of the Lord.

And it came to pass that we went down to the land of our inheritance, and we did gather together our gold, and our silver, and our precious things.” – 1 Nephi 3:16, 22

Lehi had amassed some kind of wealth during his life in Jerusalem. I’m not sure how he did it, but we know that he did provide for his family.

Again, it may have seemed counterintuitive for a man who was a good provider to leave everything behind and go into the wilderness. But his choice to listen to the Lord and take his family to a promised land would soon provide and protect his family better than anything he could have come up with on his own.

One more, Sariah must also be remembered here. She provided for her family as well. We don’t know the details, but I would imagine that she helped procure the beautiful and precious things that they enjoyed. She would have also helped to maintain the house and tents – providing an environment that would nurture faith.

Four – Lehi Teaches His Children

Over and over again, we read of the ways that Lehi taught his children. He gathered them in his tent while they lived in the wilderness. He testified to them. He told them his dreams. He expounded scripture to them. He warned them. When he sinned, he repented. He blessed them. Even to his dying day he exhorted them to come unto Christ.

As far as Sariah is concerned – this is an actual example that we have in the scriptures. She taught her children and then testified to them:

“Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons, and delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them. And after this manner of language did she speak.” – 1 Nephi 5:8

Five – Lehi and Sariah Loved One Another

For the most part, we have to infer and read between the lines when it comes to Sariah. But as a woman and a wife I have to believe that she was Lehi’s companion, love, and number one support. I understand what it is to be in a marriage, and I understand what it is to support and love a husband. I understand what it is to have a husband that also supports and loves me.

Lehi offers sacrifice

In 1 Nephi, we read of one of Sariah’s “bad” days. This “bad” day of hers wasn’t because she was selfish or bratty. It’s because she loved her sons and was worried about them! She complained to her husband.

Lehi, instead of getting frustrated, comforts Sariah.

Even though we have this one interaction, we can assume that this type of behavior was often extended one to another – between Lehi and Sariah. Lehi’s actions, in such stressful circumstances, reflect a loving relationship. If Sariah and Lehi had a toxic relationship, there is no way that this would have worked! Lehi and Sariah wouldn’t have been able to have peace while waiting for their sons to return to the wilderness with the plates.

And actually, that’s only the small part. Lehi and Sariah needed to have companionship, love, and devotion in order to be able to lead their group through the wilderness to the promised land. Can you imagine this undertaking!?! Can you imagine the stress it would have put on Lehi and Sariah? Can you imagine the way that it would have tested their relationship?

The only way that the journey to the promised land would have worked is if both Lehi and Sariah were equally yoked, humble, and devoted to the Lord.

Conclusion

This post is kind of all over the place, and I make a lot of assumptions in it. But I hope it is helpful. Truly, Nephi was born of goodly parents.

And now, we read in 2 Nephi:

“And it came to pass after my father, Lehi, had spoken unto all his household, according to the feelings of his heart and the Spirit of the Lord which was in him, he waxed old. And it came to pass that he died, and was buried.” – 2 Nephi 4:12

Father Lehi led his family to the promised land. He taught them, protected them, provided for them. He loved them and given them an example of what a “goodly parent” ought to do. And now, as we read, he has died. It is the end of an era and we are moving on to new things in the Book of Mormon.

I’m so grateful for Lehi’s and Sariah’s examples. I hope that I can also be a “goodly parent.”

Confidence in the Lord – 2 Nephi 3:14-16

You can read 2 Nephi 3:14-16 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Lehi, shortly before his death, is giving a blessing to his youngest son, Joseph.
  • Lehi is quoting some of the prophecy of Joseph (in Egypt), as recorded in the Brass Plates.
  • The Lord promised Joseph that the Lord would raise up a seer in the last days to bring the knowledge of the covenants made with the fathers back to his posterity.
  • This is a prophecy about Joseph Smith, Jr. – This seer would have the same name as him (Joseph) and as the seer’s father (Joseph Smith, Sr.)
  • Joseph was confident in the promise made to him by Heavenly Father.

Confidence in the Lord

All aboard the train of thought. Time to swim in the stream of consciousness. Thanks.

Cascade Springs

One

I’m not exactly sure how to start this blog post/scripture study. Maybe I’ll share a little bit of what I’ve been up to this morning before my study.

My health is iffy right now, so I’m spending a lot of time resting. This morning I chatted with a friend. Then I spent some time online reading emails, articles, and stuff. One thing leads to another, and I find myself looking at a profile of someone who has said some not very nice things about my faith.

I don’t spend all that much time seeking out material that is negative. I don’t need any negativity or stress in my life, especially right now. But I came across it. As usual it had something terrible to say about Joseph Smith, and I just dismissed it.

Maybe you have a problem with Joseph Smith, and you are wondering why I could dismiss it? Well, it’s because I know that Book of Mormon is true. I know that God answers prayers. I’m only 40 years old, but I’m old enough to have tried the gospel, the Book of Mormon, and prayer in my life time and time again. And it always works.

Joseph Smith was a seer, and interestingly enough, today’s scripture study is a little bit about that. We read:

“14 And thus prophesied Joseph, saying: Behold, that seer will the Lord bless; and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded; for this promise, which I have obtained of the Lord, of the fruit of my loins, shall be fulfilled. Behold, I am sure of the fulfilling of this promise;

And his name shall be called after me; and it shall be after the name of his father. And he shall be like unto me; for the thing, which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand, by the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation.” – 2 Nephi 3:14-15

This doesn’t mention much about Joseph Smith’s personality, strengths, weaknesses, foibles, or virtues. This just says that the Lord would bless all of us with a seer. He would bring forth God’s word and work in these latter days.

Joseph Smith was a man. He wasn’t perfect. Which is fine. I don’t worship him. He simply testified of God and Jesus Christ – whom I do worship.

Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ…now that’s where my confidence lies.

Two

This may seem unrelated to point one, but I’m going to explore because it is also on my mind this morning. We’ll see what happens.

As I mentioned earlier, my health isn’t all that great right now. It is strange. In many accounts I’m healthy. I’ve had a recent physical and the results were all A+++. My numbers were not borderline, but were healthy! My doctor stated, “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.”

But sometimes, our health can be impacted by things we cannot control (our DNA). Right now, I’m guessing that whatever is ailing me is more along those lines. Three weeks ago, I was either running or walking for an hour, then coming home and doing yoga, or other resistance work. Today, If I move around too much, get too animated in conversation, or even sit/lie down in the wrong position, I start exhibiting symptoms of a heart attack. Not sure what is going on. I’ll be having an angiogram in the next week to see.

So, I have this on my mind. This challenge has been one of those moments that really get you thinking about your life. I’ve been thinking about my life. About the choices I’ve made. About the paths I’ve taken.

Three

One last thing that’s kind of on my mind, and may be helpful for today’s study…Several years ago, my husband and I started our own business. It has taken us on a very unconventional, exciting, and sometimes stressful path. Though the path can be difficult, we have had many experiences and tender mercies that have shown us we are still on the right path, and we need to simply persevere.

Back to the Scriptures

The testimony of Joseph is standing out to me today. He declared:

“Behold, I am sure of the fulfilling of this promise;” – 2 Nephi 3:14

I find it especially inspiring to read this testimony from Joseph when I consider his background. He received many promises and prophecies of the Lord. And then, his life took some wild turns. He had this vision, that he would be a leader of his family. Then, not long after this series of visions, he is sold into slavery and taken to Egypt.

Imagine being Joseph. How would you feel about the spiritual impressions and visions you received if then, immediately afterward, you were made a slave. Remember his dream:

“And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed:

For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf.
And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.

¶ And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.

And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?

And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.” – Genesis 37:6-11

So, he has a dream that these various objects, symbolizing his family, are making obeisance to him. And then, what happens??? He becomes a slave. It’s a strange fulfillment of that dream.

How would you feel? Would you second guess your dream? Would you second guess what the Lord is trying to impress upon your soul?

I don’t know all of Joseph’s feelings or thoughts at the time, but he continued to trust in God, and the Lord took him on an unconventional path, but eventually the promptings, prophecies, and dreams that Joseph had were fulfilled.

So – here in 2 Nephi, we read his testimony. He has been promised that his posterity would be blessed, and he is sure that the Lord would fulfill this promise. And…the Lord did.

The Lord raised up a seer in Joseph Smith, and although he may not have been perfect, the Lord was able to use him as an instrument to do so much good. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It has brought me wisdom, peace, and clarity. It has been a guiding beacon in my life. The Lord’s gospel, the testimonies of his prophets, and the scriptures – they have worked in my life.

Because of these testimonies and my prior life experiences, I can be sure that the Lord will fulfill His promises. He will bless my heart and my health. He will bless my family as we travel the path we are on. He will bless us and fulfill the personal promises that He has made with each of us, just as He did with Joseph in Egypt.

Four

Yes, we can be sure of the promises of the Lord, but as I write this, I’m aware that we have to understand what this means.

In Joseph’s life, the promises and blessings of the Lord came to Joseph, it’s true, but Joseph had to follow God’s instructions! He had to stay faithful and true to the Lord. If we want apple pie, often times the Lord doesn’t magically bless us with a finished, warm apple pie. Often he gives us instructions – a recipe – one step at a time. Then we have to do the work to procure the ingredients. We have to make the crust, core and slice the apples. We have to mix in the sugar and spices, and then bake the pie. But He instructs us. He makes it all possible.

In other words, often, God’s promises are conditional – based on our willingness to accept them in our lives. Our willingness to accept these promised blessings usually takes the form of obedience—to the commandments and our personal promptings.

So, if I apply this in my own life (excuse the personal examples…), then I can have good health, but I have to walk a careful path. I have to listen to the whisperings of the Spirit and the good advice of my doctors. I can’t say, “Oh, I’m going to be fine because I’ve been promised of God,” and then ignore all of the advice that God gives me. His advice is what will result in the promised blessing!

Remember – blessings aren’t just magic. The Lord has told us that there are laws governing blessings:

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” – Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-31

If we want to receive promised blessings in our lives, then we need to keep the laws that are associated with these blessings. God wants to bless us, so He gives us the inspiration, promptings, and personal commandments we need, so we can obey the laws that govern the promised blessings.

Of course, we aren’t perfect. But when we do the best we can, and when we plead for the Savior to be our advocate with the Father, then through both our good works and through Christ’s grace, we can be blessed.

Five

One final thought. This confidence prior to the blessing is critical. This confidence is what will help us take one step after another. This confidence is what brought comfort, hope, and determination to Joseph – even when he was a slave, even when he was wrongfully imprisoned.

The paths of life are hard. The Lord will bless us with inspiration, commandments, and promptings – it’s true. But perhaps the best blessing is that confidence we can take in the Lord. We can say, just as Joseph did:

Behold, I am sure of the fulfilling of this promise.

This confidence will empower us when everything around us seems impossible.