Waiting for God – 1 Nephi 21:18-26

You can read 1 Nephi 21:18-26 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • To help his people better understand and have a testimony of Christ, Nephi is quoting Isaiah. (See Isaiah 49.)
  • The Lord is speaking through Isaiah. He comforts Israel – though Israel will be scattered, He will gather Israel at a later time.
  • The Lord will lift up His hand to the Gentiles, and they will gather Israel.
  • The Lord will save the children of Israel, will fight her fights, and will destroy those that oppress Her.
  • All flesh will know that the Lord, the Mighty One of Jacob, is our Savior and Redeemer.

Waiting for God

As usual, there is a lot that could be studied in this block of scriptures. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a scripture scholar. I have no real academic background when it comes to the scriptures. The only real scholarly skill I have is being able to use Google.

So – instead of trying to figure out exactly what everything in today’s scripture selection means, I am going to focus on something that keeps standing out to me instead.

Quick note: there is nothing wrong with finding out the more historical or “scholarly” aspects of the scriptures. There are times when the Spirit is kind of prompting me to learn more about the history or geography of Israel to help me better understand something that I need to know. Today isn’t one of those days for me. Today, I keep thinking about this phrase:

…and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.” – 1 Nephi 21:23

Not Ashamed

First things first, I want to see what the dictionary definition for ashamed is.

“1a : feeling shame, guilt, or disgrace
// She felt ashamed for hitting her brother.
// You should be ashamed of yourself.
// Losing is nothing to be ashamed of.
// He was deeply ashamed of his behavior.
b : feeling inferior or unworthy
2 : reluctant or unwilling to do something because of shame or embarrassment
// I was ashamed to be seen with him.
// I’m not ashamed to admit that I don’t know the answer.” – Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: Ashamed

Notice – shame, guilt, disgrace. This definition includes “guilt,” but when it comes to the scriptures and a religious understanding of shame and guilt, I think that they are two vastly different things.

Guilt – is the feeling we have as a consequence of sin. It is actually a gift. It is a signal from the spirit that something is not right. Guilt that comes from God will be accompanied with love and hope – because we will know that despite our tendency to stray, we have a path back to righteousness through the Savior.

Shame – on the other hand is a feeling we have about ourselves, and I believe that it is from Satan. For example, when in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. They felt guilt when they spoke to God and admitted that they had transgressed and had partaken of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. They felt shame when Satan pointed out their nakedness, then made them feel stupid about it.

Okay…keep following my train of thought for a moment. I’m sorry that this isn’t more polished. Thanks for studying with me.

I think that shame has more to do with pride than anything else. Think of those who partook of the fruit of the tree of life in Lehi’s dream. After partaking, they looked around and saw that the people in the great and spacious building were laughing them to scorn. This group then, felt shame. They didn’t do anything wrong, yet they felt shame! Their shame was so profound, they left the tree of life – whose fruit was the most desirable above all things and the most joyful to the soul! Now, that’s pretty intense shame.

What was the driver of this shame—their pride. They cared about the opinions of those people in the great and spacious building more than they cared about their own joy! In fact, this pride was enough to keep them from feeling the joy of the fruit.

Shame plays a similar role in our lives. If we are feeling bad about something, it might be helpful to really contemplate – am I feeling guilt, shame, or maybe a little bit of both? Guilt will also come with hope and lead us to repentance and positive changes. Shame on the other hand leaves us feeling despondent and hopeless – that even Christ’s eternal and infinite sacrifice isn’t eternal and infinite enough for us.

So – back to the scripture in 1 Nephi 21. The Lord says that we will not be ashamed that wait for Him. Remember, the context of this scripture is that Israel has suffered and has been scattered. They feel forgotten and forsaken. They might even feel ashamed for “waiting” for Him because He hasn’t answered their prayers yet.

We will get more to the concept of waiting in a moment, but maybe not being ashamed is a choice that we sometimes need to make during our trial, while we are waiting for the Lord. We need to be confident as we follow the whisperings of the Spirit, even when we might look stupid to everyone else. We can take courage: we won’t always look this way. The Lord will come through.

Waiting

I have looked up the definition for wait in the dictionary, but I don’t want to include it all here because it is long. So, here’s a basic idea:

  • to stay in place in expectation of
  • to delay
  • to remain stationary in readiness or expectation
  • to pause for another
  • to look forward expectantly
  • to hold back expectantly
  • to be ready and available
  • to remain temporarily neglected or unrealized

Have you ever felt this way? I can say that I have. And you know what I’m realizing? I’m realizing that it’s okay. Notice that last point: to remain temporarily neglected or unrealized. This is waiting. While we are in the throes of waiting, it is hard to remember that waiting is only a temporary condition.

Not only that, but sometimes I think that I misunderstand what it is to faithfully endure a trial. Sometimes I think that I am supposed to have a plastic smile painted on my face at all times. That’s the face of faith, right?

Sometimes I’m tempted to think that if I haven’t yet received an answer to my prayers, it is because there is something I’ve done wrong. Now, don’t misunderstand. I know that we have to wait and work after we pray. But I just forget how long the path can be. I forget that sometimes we have to wait a very long time. I don’t think that I’m the only one who forgets this!

When we talk about Nephi and his journey to the promised land, do we really recognize the waiting that he had to do? Do we really stop to think of what eight years feels like? The account Nephi gives of his family’s journey to the promised land takes 18 chapters. You can read that in a few weeks. We aren’t reading the day-in-day-out record of Nephi’s experience. We don’t read about the boredom, the monotony of the desert, the walking, the waiting. We don’t see how Nephi’s knowledge came to him by degrees. We are getting the highlight reel.

Watching all nine innings of a baseball game is a lot different than the 3 minutes of highlights they show on the news later. There’s a lot more waiting at that game!

It’s a temptation for me to forget that real life isn’t a highlight reel; That waiting takes time; That the Lord lets us wait—and that in the meantime we feel temporarily neglected as our prayers are temporarily unrealized.

But the Lord has said:

“Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks;

2 Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament—the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted.” –Doctrine and Covenants 98:1-2

The Lord has heard our prayers. He bids us to wait. And if we do, we will find that eventually our prayers our answered. Though we may look foolish for a time, we will not ultimately be ashamed when we wait on the Lord. This is because He will come through. And our prayers will be answered.

What to Do While We Wait

Waiting is hard. It really is! It is for me, anyway. What do I do when I wait? What should I do when I wait? Well, the answer is in the scripture above:

  • Be Comforted – Being comforted is more than the Lord comforting us. We also have the choice to accept that comfort in our trials or to ignore it. So, don’t wallow in fear or sadness. We need to remember the peace and joy we have felt when the Lord has comforted us. A good way to do this is to write a journal – observing times we have felt comforted, and then referring back to this often.
  • Rejoice Evermore – Rejoice! We can rejoice knowing that we believe in an omnipotent, eternal God. We can rejoice knowing that His promises are sure. If He has promised us something, we can rejoice in it just as Lehi rejoiced in obtaining a promised land years before arriving.
    Oh and one more thing. How can we rejoice more? Smile! Take a moment right now to think of a happy moment. Now, as you’re thinking, make a slight smile. Keep smiling for a few seconds or so. How do you feel??? Smiling really helps us to feel better.And if you really want to feel great and rejoice, then sing!
  • In Everything Give Thanks – Finally, we can better wait for the Lord if we are grateful. We can take a moment to notice the tender mercies of God. Now, it is important to realize that gratitude and desiring God’s deliverance aren’t binary expressions. You can want both at the same time. You can want to make it to the top of the mountain while being grateful for the difficult walk up it.

So – be grateful. This doesn’t mean fake happiness and pretending that we are absolutely thrilled about some difficult trial. But there is always something to be grateful for.

Persian Speedwell
Sometimes we might have to look long and hard, but there are little blessings even in the rockiest path. We can always find something to be grateful for.

I’m so thankful for the scriptures. I’m in my own “waiting period” right now. I feel like I’m a plane circling an airport to land. I feel like I’ve been in this holding pattern for at least 2 years now. It is exhausting. There are times when I wonder, am I an idiot? I am tempted to be ashamed. I’m tempted to stop waiting for God.

But the scriptures are a beautiful reminder to me that there are times when it take years for God’s work to unfold. I can remain faithful, knowing that at a future point, I won’t be ashamed! He hears my prayers and He will grant His blessings in His own due time. Thanks to the scriptures, I’m reminded that I can keep waiting.

 

Our Profit and Learning – 1 Nephi 19:21-24

You can read 1 Nephi 19:21-24 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi testifies that the Lord has shown the prophets concerning the people of Jerusalem – these prophecies are recorded in the plates of brass.
  • Nephi taught his brethren what was written in the plates of brass so they could know concerning the Lord.
  • Nephi read many things that were written in the books of Moses.
  • To persuade his brethren to believe in Jesus Christ, Nephi read that which was written by Isaiah.
  • Nephi applied the scriptures to himself for his profit and learning and encouraged his brethren to do the same.
  • Nephi spake to his brethren: Hear ye the words of the prophet.

Our Profit and Learning

I’m not exactly sure when 1 Nephi 19 was written – somewhere between 588-570 BC. I bring this up because sometimes I think that all of these chapters are like diary entries – just happening as they happen.

However, as I’ve been studying the Book of Mormon lately, I keep remembering that this is an abridgment. The small plates of Nephi are an abridgment that the Lord commanded him to make. Most likely, Nephi is writing this record long after the events occurred.

Not only that, but sometimes a lot of time passed between events in chapters. (Like obtaining the brass plates, for example). In fact, the first 18 chapters of 1 Nephi are marked with events – leaving Jerusalem, obtaining the plates, returning to the tent of Lehi, getting Ishmael and his family, Lehi’s Dream, the broken bow, traveling in the wilderness, building a ship, crossing the sea.

Now, after chapter 18, we don’t have as many events, but we have teachings. The families of Nephi and his brothers and sisters have all grown. There are people to teach! This is what he taught them:

“Now it came to pass that I, Nephi, did teach my brethren these things; and it came to pass that I did read many things to them, which were engraven upon the plates of brass, that they might know concerning the doings of the Lord in other lands, among people of old.” – 1 Nephi 19:22

Nephi taught from the scriptures so that they could know the doings of the Lord. And why is that important? Well, here’s a good reason why:

“3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” – John 17:3

Nephi taught the scriptures, so that his people could know the doings of the Lord. And knowing the doings of the Lord will help us – not to perish, but to have eternal life.

brazil-family-studying-scriptures-1374752-gallery
The Words of Eternal Life

Nephi continues:

“And I did read many things unto them which were written in the books of Moses; but that I might more fully persuade them to believe in the Lord their Redeemer I did read unto them that which was written by the prophet Isaiah; for I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.” – 1 Nephi 19:23

Today, I’d like to do something different. I’m going to pick out a few key words and study what those words really mean and how they can hopefully help each of us.

Persuade

The dictionary tells us the definition of persuade:

“Persuade transitive verb: to move by argument, entreaty, or expostulation to a belief, position, or course of action
2 : to plead with : URGE” – Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

I have to admit – the concept of persuasion has been super intriguing to me lately. I think it’s because 1) I’m a parent, and it’s my job to do a lot of teaching and persuading. 2) Persuading sometimes gets a bad rap. 3) We are always being persuaded. When we understand the mechanics of persuasion, we can have better discernment.

I’m going to start with point two right now – persuading gets a bad rap. It’s kind of funny – even as I wrote point 1—that I’m a parent and I have to be persuasive—I felt a little reticent to write that. I don’t want to come off as manipulative.

But that’s the thing. Persuasion does not have to be manipulation. Persuasion is simply pleading with. Urging. Moving by argument (not a fight, but logic), entreaty, or expostulation to a belief.

Parents must persuade their children to eat dinner. Parents must persuade their children to go to sleep. Parents must persuade their children to do their chores, homework, and brush their teeth.

This isn’t a power-hungry move for control. It is because we are deemed with the responsibility to raise our children in such a way that they can be stewards of themselves one day.

Persuasion is simply the act of moving another to a belief, position, or course of action.

I think that the reason that persuasion gets a bad rap is because there are plenty of people and other entities persuading us to do bad things! Persuasion isn’t the enemy – we have to discern the belief, position, or course of action that we are being moved to! The belief, position, or course of action (and the perhaps the person giving it) is the potential enemy!

Of course, there are times when people use bad methods to persuade others. There are times when people lie and manipulate in order to move another to a belief. Sometimes we even use these bad methods to move to a good belief. Of course, this is a terrible practice. When we use bad persuasion tactics, we will often have bad results.

Not only that, but sometimes people confuse persuasion with compulsion. Compulsion is the act of compelling.

Compel transitive verb:to drive or urge forcefully or irresistibly
Hunger compelled him to eat.
The general was compelled to surrender.
2 : to cause to do or occur by overwhelming pressure
Public opinion compelled her to sign the bill.” – Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

Now – this is a problem. When we persuade, we don’t drive or urge forcefully. This is Satan’s way! When we persuade, we shouldn’t use so much overwhelming pressure that the person we are trying to persuade can’t think or feel for themselves. We shouldn’t use guilt trips and other below-the-belt tactics to compel another to do what we want them to do (even if what we want them to do is good!)

As the Lord explained:

“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—” – Doctrine and Covenants 121:41-42

We shouldn’t use our power – as parents, priesthood holders, or whatever power it is we have – in a way that compels and forces. Instead, we should persuade with gentleness, meekness, and genuine love. We should be kind, have knowledge, and teach without hypocrisy and guile.

Nephi tells us in 1 Nephi 19:23 that he is trying to persuade us—to believe in the Lord our Redeemer. This is a good cause, and Nephi uses good tactics. What he is doing is a-okay.

Liken

Again to the dictionary:

Liken transitive verb: to represent as similar : COMPARE” – Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

Not only did Nephi read the scriptures, he likened the scriptures unto himself. In other words, he compared what was happening to the scriptures to his own life.

We know that Nephi derived power from likening the scriptures. Nephi urges his brothers to go back to Jerusalem to get the plates from Laban by saying: let us be strong like unto Moses;…” (See 1 Nephi 4:2.) Later on, when building the ship, Nephi reiterates the story of Moses and the Exodus of Israel out of Egypt – Nephi asks his brothers “And now, if the Lord has such great power , and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?” (See 1 Nephi 17:51.)

Nephi knew that he could trust in God because of the witnesses of the prophets. He knew that the scriptures were more than old books to be read. He knew that the scriptures were not simply myths or tales. Nephi knew that if he studied the scriptures and really compared them to his own life, then he would be able to apply the wisdom found in the scriptures to strengthen his own life.

We now sing about Nephi being courageous. Likening the scriptures to himself is what helped to bring him the faith that could give him the courage to get the brass plates, make a bow, build a boat, and sail across the sea.

We can do the same – we can take the time to really liken the scriptures. We can compare what we read to our own lives. As we do so, the Lord will teach us how they can apply to us and empower us.

Profit

Once more to the dictionary:

Profit noun:: a valuable return : GAIN
2 : the excess of returns over expenditure in a transaction or series of transactions” – Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

(There are other definitions that I didn’t include – as they are all about money and ratios…not super applicable.)

Again, profit can be a loaded word. We know that the Lord doesn’t want us to be selfish or seek to “get gain.” And yet, Nephi uses the word “profit.” I suppose we need to be sure to understand what is meant here. This is why I really like the definition above.

When we study and liken the scriptures, we make a transaction. We give our faith and time to the Lord, and then He will give us a return (wisdom, knowledge, courage, etc.) This is the profit of which Nephi speaks.

This is a great deal for us! We invest a little time and a little trust and we gain—a testimony! strength! courage! hope! wisdom! healing! Indeed, a valuable return. Indeed, a profit.

This post is getting really long, so I’ll end it now…Nephi closes chapter 19 with an invitation. I hope that we will consider everything that Nephi has written up to this point and then take him up on his invitation as we read the chapters of Isaiah that Nephi quoted.

Hear ye the words of the prophet, ye who are a remnant of the house of Israel, a branch who have been broken off; hear ye the words of the prophet, which were written unto all the house of Israel, and liken them unto yourselves, that ye may have hope as well as your brethren from whom ye have been broken off; for after this manner has the prophet written.” – 1 Nephi 19:24.

Truly the prophets persuade us to believe in Christ. As we liken these scriptures to ourselves, we will profit. We will gain faith, hope, and the courage we need to endure.

It Was not after the Manner of Men – 1 Nephi 18:1-4

You can read 1 Nephi 18:1-4 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Laman and Lemuel worshipped the Lord. They also helped Nephi with building the boat.
  • The ship was not worked “after the manner of men,” but Nephi built the boat in the way that God instructed him.
  • Nephi went to the mount often to pray. The Lord showed him great things.
  • When they were finished building the ship – according to the word of the Lord – they all beheld that it was good, the workmanship was fine. And they were all humbled before the Lord.

It Was Not After the Manner of Men

In the past, I haven’t usually cared much about Nephi’s boat – how was it built? How did it get across the ocean? etc. Maybe it would be more interesting to me if I knew anything about boats, but for me, personally, I have always figured that if I needed to understand certain specificities, then Nephi would have included that information.

However, there is some information that he included:

“Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men.” – 1 Nephi 18:2

We don’t know what kind of boat that Nephi built, but what we do know is that it was not built after the manner of men. The Lord showed him how to do it.

So let’s think about Nephi. He had been traveling in the wilderness for years. He made it to Bountiful. He had received instruction to build a boat. He made bellows and started making tools (this probably took a few months – to kill an animal, prepare the hide, make tools, etc.). So much of what Nephi had experienced in the wilderness was new – including this situation – building a boat.

And I would imagine that Nephi hadn’t really seen anything like this before. Yes, he had travelled along the shores of the Red Sea, but they knew that it was the Red Sea. They knew that on the other side of the Red Sea was Egypt and Africa. But by the time that they reached Bountiful, they were not on the Red Sea anymore. They called this “Irreantum,” which was “many waters.”

They were on the borders of the Arabian Sea, which is a part of the Indian Ocean. Many waters, indeed!

And now, Nephi has to build a boat. There is no real reason for us to think that he had ever built a boat before. The boats used on inland seas (the Sea of Galilee, for example) were not quite the same as a boat that would have been needed to cross the ocean.

The Phoenicians were known for sailing and voyaging, they had better ships that could withstand more waters, but still, they primarily were in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea (as far as I know).

And how familiar would Nephi really be with those types of boats? They would probably be a faint memory. I mean, we know that Nephi was very young (nevertheless large in stature) when he left Jerusalem. So what did he really know about boats? What was his concept of a boat or a ship? I can’t imagine.

And then he got the assignment to build a boat.

Nephi had full confidence in the Lord, and he began to follow his instructions – and all he really shares with us is that this boat was “not after the manner of men.”

Okay…so the real thing that I want to think about is how often we face this in our lives. And are we as humble or faithful to accept God’s way of doing things – rather than our way or the way of those around us?

In late 2006, I was a young (divorced) single mother of two. I had been dating people off and on. I had a desire to be married again, but I wasn’t going to rush into anything – so I was just kind of doing my best without putting it all into my own hands (does that make sense???).

Anyway, one day I was meeting with my Bishop, and he had a suggestion for me – that I “give the Lord something to work with, and go online.” It was not the suggestion that I was expecting, and I wasn’t really all that excited to follow it.

In a way, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Why go online? Why not meet someone the normal way – in person?!?!

But a few days later, I felt a prompting, just to obey for obedience’s sake.

What followed was my meeting this guy online. He didn’t live in my state. I didn’t actually think anything of it. I didn’t think that we would really get into any kind of relationship. I just read his blog and thought it was funny.

But one email led to another. Which led to another. Which eventually led to phone calls and falling in love. In fact, I fell in love with him before I ever met him.

Homey and Me
Homey and Me

We met. We got engaged. We got married. And now we’ve been married for 12 years, he adopted my two daughters and then we’ve had two more children.

The thing is, this didn’t happen a “normal” or “conventional” way. The Lord helped me through my problems in his own way…it was “curious workmanship,” for sure.

But this experience taught me something – we can trust the Lord. He will instruct us better than our own wisdom, experiences, or instinct. He sees the end from the beginning.

When I first met Homey (my husband) online, he was really cool, and I remember thinking – this is better than what I would have come up with for myself!. He really was.

And now, 12 years later, I can say the same thing even more emphatically. I have seen how wise the Lord was in letting us meet and bringing us together. I can see how wise the Lord was in letting us meet in such an unconventional way. It has been a strength and blessing for our marriage and lives.

Homey and I met online, fell in love through phone calls and emails in a matter of only two months, and then finally met, got engaged, married, and I moved cross-country within six months from my first email to him. This was not after the manner of men. Yes – there were times we had concerns. But throughout, the Lord guided us and comforted us. The Spirit does not bear false witness, so we could trust the comfort and guidance that He gave to us.

I hate to think what would have happened if I had insisted on doing things a more conventional way. I hate to think what would have happened if I insisted that the Lord did not work a “curious workmanship” in my life that was “not after the manner of men.”

If Nephi had insisted on building a boat in a way that was more familiar to him, no doubt it would have sunk; they wouldn’t have made it to the promised land.

Go To The Mount Oft and Pray

How does this work, though? How do we allow the Lord to work a “curious workmanship” in our own lives?

Well, Nephi gives the answer in his example:

“And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.” – 1 Nephi 18:3

Nephi didn’t have the answers to building this boat. He didn’t have a blueprint. He had the spiritual guidance from the Lord, so he had to stay in a mental state that enabled him to receive such instruction. This was achieved through consistent and thoughtful prayer.

The Lord reveals to us line upon line, precept upon precept. It wouldn’t have been helpful for Nephi to receive every single step of the instructions to build a boat all at once. Nephi did step one, then he received instruction for step two. He did step two, went to the Lord, and received instruction for step three. And so on.

When we are allowing the Lord to work a “curious workmanship” in our lives, we don’t need to get frustrated by the need for constant counsel with God. We don’t need to be frustrated that we don’t know every step. Though it is hard (faith building!) to receive only one step at a time – or to only have the path before us dimly lit – we can do it. We don’t need to see the end from the beginning because we have a God who does see the end from the beginning!

Oh – and another thing. We don’t need to get frustrated with ourselves when we aren’t “successful” after completing the first “step.” We don’t need to think we are making mistakes or lacking faith. We don’t need to think that if we were more faithful, then we would simply be successful right away.

Building the boat was a process. When they finished the boat – it wasn’t because they were finally being faithful for that very last step. All of the instructions and steps leading up to the finishing of the boat weren’t mistakes. It’s not like if they only had more faith, then they would have been able to make the ship in one step in a day.

Often, the “curious workmanship” in our own lives takes on a similar process. Yes we need to be faithful, but faith is what takes us through every step – not only the final step. Instead of getting bogged down when we have to go back up the “mount” to pray for more guidance, we can rest assured that we are on the right path…we just have to keep on keeping on.

We can take comfort in those metaphorical (or maybe even literal) trips to the tops of the mountains – to the trips to the temple – to the trips that take us to our knees so we can be counseled by God and shown great things.

There is so much more that can be considered in these scriptures, but I need to wrap it up right now.

What Nephi did – building a boat not after the manner of men – was pretty hard. But he did it. He didn’t rely on his own genius. He just relied on his own determination to do as the Lord instructed. We know that it worked! We know that Nephi built a boat and when it was finished, everyone saw that it was good! We know that this boat delivered them to the promised land.

Our lives can be hard, too. We may not be building boats, but we often have times in our own lives where we have to put our full trust in the Lord as he directs us to do something that may seem highly unusual. But, like Nephi, when we put our trust in the Lord, we will find comfort and eventual deliverance.

Convinced by the Power of God – 1 Nephi 17:48-55

You can read 1 Nephi 17:48-55 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi finished his “speech” to Laman and Lemuel. They were angry with what he said and wanted to throw him into the depths of the sea. As they came up to him, he commanded them not to touch him – as he was filled with the power of God unto the consuming of his flesh.
  • Nephi then told them not to murmur against their father and to help him build the ship according to God’s commandment.
  • Nephi testifies that he could do anything God commanded him.
  • Nephi reasons that God has the power to make the water into dry ground, why not enough power to teach Nephi how to build a boat?!
  • Nephi confounded his brothers with his testimony.
  • The Lord also told Nephi to stretch out his hand. In so doing, the Lord shocked Laman and Lemuel. Nephi did as instructed. Laman and Lemuel weren’t killed or seriously injured, but they were shaken and then finally convinced that Nephi had been commanded to build a boat and that the Lord would show him how to do it.
  • Laman and Lemuel, after being shocked, wouldn’t touch Nephi for several days. They also fell down to worship Nephi.
  • Nephi wouldn’t suffer Laman and Lemuel to worship him – reminding him that he is their younger brother, they shouldn’t worship him, but they should worship God and honor their parents.

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Convinced by the Power of God

There is something that is really standing out to me today as I read. After Nephi has recounted examples of God’s power from their history and the scriptures, he then makes a conclusion that the Lord – with His great power – will deliver them just as He has delivered so many others.

This line of reasoning didn’t convince Laman and Lemuel of God’s power. It shut them up for a moment, but they needed to physically feel God’s power (they were shocked!) in order to be convinced. They don’t draw upon their past experiences of witnessing God’s power. They won’t remember the times when they have seen an angel, heard the voice of the Lord, or experienced His still, small voice. They refuse to learn from the scriptures and experiences of others. (Remember, Moses and the children of Israel aren’t just “ancient scriptures” to them – these are their forefathers! this is the history of Israel!)

The only way that Laman and Lemuel are convinced of God’s ability to empower Nephi to build a boat is when they are physically shocked.

I can’t say that I’m always the best at remembering and believing. There are times when the Lord has had to hit me with the proverbial frying pan. I can say that these experiences aren’t always the most pleasant. It is just so much easier (in the long run) to have faith!

There are times when life requires a lot of faith from us; there are times when we may be more reliant on the tender mercies of God than others. There are times when, after years of traveling through our own “wilderness,” we are on the shores of the sea, we need to build a boat, we have nearly made it to our “promised lands.” But one last big push must be made. We have to exercise our faith in ways that stretch us.

In these moments, maybe it is helpful to remember Nephi’s words:

“And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?” – 1 Nephi 17:51

We have the blessing of hindsight. Nephi’s reasoning why not trust the Lord is right. Nephi knew the Lord was trustworthy – that He would deliver them. And we know that the Lord did deliver Nephi and his brothers. Nephi DID build a boat. And it wasn’t just some dinghy. It carried their family from the Arabian Peninsula to the Americas. It crossed at least two oceans. This boat withstood that terrible storm we will read about in coming chapters.

It worked!

The Lord was powerful enough to instruct Nephi to build a ship that would safely deliver them to the Promised Land.

We know this, and we have countless examples of the Lord’s power working in the lives of His children.

So – if we are having trouble trusting God, then we can ask ourselves the same question: If the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot empower me and deliver me?

He can. And He will.

A Problem for Every Solution – 1 Nephi 17:17-20

You can read 1 Nephi 17:17-22 here. You can also find the rest of the Blogging the Book of Mormon entries here.

Context and General Information

  • When Laman and Lemuel saw that Nephi was about to build a ship, they murmured and mocked him. They called him a fool. They complained against him. They would not help him build the ship – and he needed the help.
  • Nephi was sorrowful because of the hardness of their hearts. But he wasn’t sorrowful about the task that lay ahead of him.
  • Laman and Lemuel misread Nephi’s sorrow, and then they rejoice! They think that they have spoken sense to him – that he couldn’t build a ship, that they couldn’t cross the deep ocean, that he was “lacking in judgment.”
  • Laman and Lemuel accuse Nephi and Lehi of being led by the foolish imaginations of their hearts. Laman and Lemuel complain about the sacrifices and hardships that they and their wives have endured.

A Problem for Every Solution

My son has been learning a poem recently:

Listen to the Mustn’ts
Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child
Listen to the DON’TS.
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS,
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WONT’S.
Listen to the never haves,
Then listen close to me.
Anything can happen, child.
ANYTHING can be.
– Shel Silverstein

It seems perfect for today’s scripture study.

One of the most difficult afflictions that Nephi had to deal with in the wilderness was his brothers! Yes – he dealt with hunger, fatigue, thirst, and other dangers. But it was his brothers that were consistently an active force against progress towards the promised land.

They had a problem to every solution. And worse yet – these were God’s solutions that they had problems with.

I mean, imagine what the journey to the promised land would have been like without such adversarial forces? Imagine what it would have been like if Laman and Lemuel had even an ounce of vision or faith.

Anyway – this blog post isn’t so much about knocking Laman and Lemuel, but learning from them. So we can both identify the Lamans and Lemuels of our lives and also so we can be sure not to be the Laman or Lemuel of someone else’s life.

lamanandlemuel
Nephi’s bros…

IMMEDIATE Murmuring or Complaining

In 1 Nephi 17, we read:

“And when my brethren saw that I was about to build a ship, they began to murmur against me…” – 1 Nephi 17:17

Laman and Lemuel saw that Nephi is building a ship and their instant reaction wass to complain. What is up with that? They don’t take time to think. They are ruled by their emotions. They are reactive and have given up their agency to their tendency to complain.

Lack of Information

Some people become negative influences in our lives because they lack information. Laman and Lemuel were no different.

Even though Bountiful does have bountiful resources, it isn’t the Promised Land. I don’t know exactly what Nephi and Lehi knew, but it seems that they understood that Bountiful was not the final destination. It seems that Lehi understood that his family would travel far. Lehi understood that their journeying to the promised land was a part of the fulfillment of the prophecy that the Lord would scatter Israel. We read:

“Wherefore, he said it must needs be that we should be led with one accord into the land of promise, unto the fulfilling of the word of the Lord, that we should be scattered upon all the face of the earth.” – 1 Nephi 10:13

Additionally, when Nephi saw the vision of the Tree of Life, he beheld the land of promise (see 1 Nephi 12-14.) He saw the Gentiles that would sail across many waters (thousands of years later) to the land of promise that his posterity and the posterity of his brothers inhabited.

Though Nephi didn’t know exactly where the promised land wass, I’m guessing that this small oasis of Bountiful didn’t match what he had seen in vision. I’m guessing that even though he could have been tempted to think, what? more?! We still aren’t to the promised land yet?! He didn’t give into the temptation because he had a greater vision than what was available to them at Bountiful.

Besides that, the Lord instructed Nephi, personally. He would build a ship to cross the waters. Because Nephi was close to the Spirit, he heard the command and jumped to obey. He probably was sick of wandering in the wilderness! He wanted to get to the promised land. And now, he gets this command: build a ship. He jumped at the chance to move forward. This is a leap of optimism, faith, and probably also a signal that he really wanted to be at that promised land!!!!!

On the other hand, Laman and Lemuel have no information at all. Of course, this is their fault. Interestingly enough, their refusal to be open—to listen—also hampers their ability to see, to learn, to gain any kind of insight at all.

I feel confident that Heavenly Father would have been happy to share knowledge with Laman and Lemuel as He did with Nephi. But they refuse the Lord. Instead, they consistently arm themselves with wrong information which leads to wrong conclusions.

In fact, their arrival to the land of Bountiful probably made them feel “justified” in some weird way. They say to Nephi:

“And thou art like unto our father, led away by the foolish imaginations of his heart; yea, he hath led us out of the land of Jerusalem, and we have wandered in the wilderness for these many years…” – 1 Nephi 17:20

Maybe, they arrived at Bountiful, saw the “many waters” and thought, great…a dead end…We knew that dad was crazy. We were right, and look at where we are now.

There was fruit and honey…so they could manage. But build a ship and sail on the sea? No way. Not after all of what they’ve already gone through. Besides, it would probably just lead to another dead end – if they would even make it.

Of course, if this was their thinking, then we can see the problem with it. Just because they hadn’t arrived at the promised land did not mean that it didn’t exist! Honestly, they seem idiotic. And in a way, they are. (I don’t mean this to be mean.(

I mean it to say—making rash statements with little to no information IS IDIOTIC! So – we should refrain from making these types of statements. We should do what we can to get more understanding. The Lord will help us and He will educate us. The most idiotic thing in the world is when we refuse to recognize that we are idiots! That we don’t have all the answers; When we refuse to listen to the one who does.

Laman and Lemuel thought they had all the answers. They thought they knew something, but they knew nothing. Their “answers” would have led to sure death and destruction. Silly, silly, silly.

Get information! Be open. Have a soft heart.

No Information??? – then Trust Those Who Are Informed

Now, I’m not trying to say that we should just blindly trust anyone. But, there are people who are more informed than we are. And it is okay to trust them.

I know that in my own life, there have been times when I’ve been criticized or even preached at by others – about what I should or should not be doing in my life. I wish it didn’t drive me crazy. (Well, sometimes it is actually humorous).

In any case, I happen to be the expert on my life.

And you know what – you happen to be the expert on your life!

Of course, I commit this sin against others, too. I think that I have all of the information… I think that I can judge the decisions that they are making. Then, instead of being a light and a help, I’m more of a Laman or a Lemuel. I promise I’m trying to change that.

So – if a friend calls you and she tells you about what is happening in her life, don’t be like Laman and Lemuel. Listen to her. Trust her. Trust that she is the expert of her own life.

This love and trust will open our hearts to the Spirit. Then, we can be a better help to them instead of being a jerk. (Smiles! Hugs!)

Distance from the Spirit

I think that I could have included all of the above categories into this one. The basic problem is that Laman and Lemuel are not close to the Spirit!

This distance from the spirit, this lack of faith, hampers their vision. It’s funny…that was the complaint they levied against their father. That he was a “visionary” man. And even now, we can read the cynicism in such a statement.

There are times when we also levy similar complaints against people around us. Thankfully, some “visionary” men persevere despite the negative people around them. And then, they succeed. And then, we say “He was visionary!” with a hush of respect.

It’s funny how hindsight can change the meaning of “visionary.” From derision to admiration.

We know what causes murmuring. Laman and Lemuel didn’t know the dealings of the God that created them. A lack of faith, of vision, results in blind murmuring.

Think about it this way – we know who was right in this situation. We know that Nephi not only built a boat, but he built a boat that was fit to travel from the Arabian Peninsula across at least two oceans. We know that Nephi and his family, despite the setbacks caused by Laman and Lemuel, arrived at the promised land.

What good was their murmuring? What good was their complaining? IT WAS POINTLESS! IT JUST RUINED NEPHI’S VIBE. IT WAS A WASTE OF TIME AND ENERGY! THEY WERE WRONGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!

Not only that, but it was just another time-wasting setback. Instead of building that boat, and moving on, they sat around and wasted time, wasted opportunities. I have a feeling that Nephi wanted to get on with building the boat. He didn’t want to spend a day longer in the wilderness than necessary. Even though he never complained about the wilderness, it doesn’t mean that he loved loved the wilderness. Ironically, those who complained about the wilderness are the ones that prolonged the time in the wilderness!!! What good is murmuring and pessimism? NOTHING! What purpose does murmuring and pessimism serve? NONE!!!

I know that some people are somewhat proud of their pessimism and nurture it like it is a child. But I’m completely convinced that there is not a stupider thing you could do. There isn’t an example where pessimism led to progress in any way.

Murmuring and complaining…booooooorrrrrrrrrring. Waste of time. And this is Laman and Lemuel’s first response. It drives the Spirit away!!!

I’m not saying that we should be gullible or easily persuaded by any wind or idea. But I am saying that by being positive, and by choosing to really listen and look at a situation, we will have the Spirit with us. We will be able to discern. We can trust God and trust our instincts. But only if we really let ourselves listen to the whole story. Only if we are open to ideas and not closed off by the knee-jerk reaction to complain.

By the way, being close to the Spirit helps us to identify the truly bad ideas! Because sometimes there are bad ideas! And sometimes it takes a while to find the right idea. Sometimes we must go through a little bit of trial and error while we find the right solutions in our lives. When we have the Spirit with us, we will better be able to discern what we should focus our effort on and what is a waste of time.

Here’s an illustration. Say that you are hiking on a trail to the top of the mountain. Sometimes you will reach a point in the trail where you face some kind of obstacle. Maybe it hasn’t been travelled much, and there is overgrowth…but the trail is just there and you must persevere. Sometimes you will reach points in the trail where the trail actually changes directions and you need to take a new path.

Often, these two situations can look similar: Situation 1: Are we on the path and there is an obstacle in the path what we must overcome? or – Situation 2:  are we supposed to change directions? The only way to know this is if we have a way to discern (maybe a map or a guide!)

In our lives, the Spirit serves as the way to discern – whether we have faced obstacles that must be overcome (like the seas at Bountiful) or whether we should change direction (like the shift in traveling at Nahom). But we have to have the Spirit with us in order to discern. Otherwise, we’ll be like Laman and Lemuel, constantly wrong because they refuse to humble themselves to the Spirit, faith, possibility, and optimism – with a problem for every solution.

The Importance of Maintaining Faith During Oppressive Trials – 1 Nephi 16:17-24

You can read 1 Nephi 16:17-24 here.

Context and General Information

  • After traveling for many days, Lehi and his family pitched their tents so they could get some food.
  • Nephi went forth to slay food, and he broke his very nice, steel bow. His brothers were angry with him because of this. Their bows had already lost their spring, so they were rendered useless. Nephi’s bow was the last reliable weapon for obtaining food, and now it was gone.
  • Nephi and his brothers returned from hunting without any food. Everyone was very fatigued and extremely hungry – after all of the journeying they had just done. So the news of no food and a broken bow didn’t go over very well. In fact, not only did Laman and Lemuel begin to murmur, but the sons of Ishmael and even Lehi did, too.
  • Nephi spoke with his brethren, trying to comfort them and get them to stop complaining against God.
  • Nephi then made a simple bow and arrow out of wood and a straight stick. He also armed himself with a sling and stones. He asked his father where to go to obtain food.
  • Lehi inquired of the Lord where Nephi should go – he had humbled himself because of Nephi’s emphatic and energizing words.

Maintaining Faith During Oppressive Trials

I can’t even estimate how many times I’ve read this story. Yet, every time I read it, I learn something new. That’s the amazing thing about the scriptures. The same words, written thousands of years ago, read repeatedly are relevant.

Okay. So here we go.

As we read earlier the journey in the Saudi Peninsula (which is most likely where Lehi and his family were traveling) was not an easy journey. This is a hot and arid part of the world. For the most part, the Saudi Peninsula is a series of deserts. Yet, the Lord guided them through the more fertile parts of the land during their journey.

arabian peninsula

Now, the more fertile parts of the land happen to be in the mountains on the western side of the Saudi Peninsula – near the Red Sea. We know from Nephi’s account that he and his family were “in the borders near the Red Sea.” (See 1 Nephi 16:14.)

We don’t know exactly where they were walking. Were they in the mountains? Were they traveling at the base of the mountains? I suppose we can make an educated guess – as Lehi later on instructs Nephi, according to the instructions given on the Liahona, to go hunt for food in the “tops of the mountains.” So – they were probably near enough to the mountains, but they weren’t already traveling on the tops of them.

This makes sense to me. It would be pretty hard to caravan on the “tops” of mountains.” Perhaps they were at the foothills.

What’s the point of all of this? I guess it is just to help us really internalize what it was like for Lehi and his family. They are in a hot part of the world. I checked the weather forecast in Mecca, which is probably near to where Lehi and his family were traveling, and it is supposed to be around 110° F. I used to live in Phoenix, AZ. I can relate to this kind of heat. And I can tell you – I wouldn’t want to be caravanning in it!

So – they are probably hot (not sure when they left Jerusalem. I hope they were taking their journey through this part of the world during winter!) They have been walking for days. They are hungry. They don’t just want food. They need it.

And then, Nephi goes and breaks his bow.

Nephi!

Nephi was righteous, and had been righteous from the start of this journey.

Nephi Close Up

This is Nephi – who didn’t directly receive revelation that his family was supposed to leave Jerusalem for a promised land. His father received that revelation. Yet, Nephi, instead of complaining about leaving his friends, comforts, and life behind in Jerusalem, goes to the Lord. He gains a testimony that they truly do need to flee from Jerusalem.

This is Nephi – who when he was told by his father to go back to Jerusalem to get the brass plates from Laban, didn’t murmur but stated one of the most quoted scriptures—I will go and do.

This is Nephi – who not only told his father he would “go and do,” but he actually went and did. Despite two failed attempts, Nephi kept his courage, entered into Jerusalem armed only with the Spirit, and prevailed against Laban, obtaining the plates.

This is Nephi – who faithfully returned, once again, to Jerusalem, to get the family of Ishmael, and when his brothers rebelled, he followed the promptings of the Spirit and spoke to his brothers.

This is Nephi – who heard the words of his father’s dream and prophecies, and, instead of complaining that they were hard to understand, pondered them and asked the Lord for clarity. Because of his faith, he beheld a dream that gave him a sure and special witness of Jesus Christ and the future.

This is Nephi – who encouraged his brethren time and time again to turn to the Lord.

This is Nephi – who, had kept all of the commandments of God and had been blessed of the Lord exceedingly.

Nephi didn’t murmur or complain. He didn’t drag his feet. He was faithful and courageous…and he broke his bow.

Wasn’t the challenge of journeying to a promised land already difficult enough?!?! Nephi didn’t deserve more trials. And look – his brothers were actually being faithful! Now, they are being afflicted again, with the lack of food while in the middle of a physically demanding journey.

I’m sure that you are familiar with this kind of situation. It happens all the time. We face challenges. It is common to expect that afflictions will come to us when we break the commandments. So many of the commandments are given to us to keep us safe. It makes sense that we would be “punished” or tried when we aren’t living worthy of the Lord’s guidance.

But that’s the thing – Nephi and his family were living faithfully. They were being guided by the Liahona. They were working hard and they were on the move. And then, he faced this challenge – even when they were already in such challenging circumstances.

Richard G. Scott taught:

“May I share some suggestions with you who face … the testing that a wise Heavenly Father determines is needed even when you are living a worthy, righteous life and are obedient to His commandments.

“Just when all seems to be going right, challenges often come in multiple doses applied simultaneously. When those trials are not consequences of your disobedience, they are evidence that the Lord feels you are prepared to grow more. He therefore gives you experiences that stimulate growth, understanding, and compassion which polish you for your everlasting benefit. To get you from where you are to where He wants you to be requires a lot of stretching, and that generally entails discomfort and pain” – Richard G. Scott

Yikes. I don’t like that – discomfort and pain. It is obvious that Nephi and his family were experiencing intense discomfort, and this was only exacerbated by Nephi breaking his bow.

Murmuring can be Contagious

As a result of this unfortunate event, Nephi’s brothers start to complain. They are angry with Nephi. They want food.

Nephi and his brothers return to their father, and the angry attitude exhibited by the brothers starts to spread. In fact, even Lehi complains against God.

If I take the time to think about that for myself, it is a good reminder on one reason why it is important to maintain a positive and faithful attitude. A murmuring and unfaithful attitude can infect others and bring them down. Complaining may feel good in the moment. We like to call it “venting,” but in my experience, this “venting” usually only begets more anger and frustration – more murmuring, and more “venting.”

What’s the point?! I’ve been in situations where people are frustrated with their predicaments to the point that they are murmuring against God. And you know what??? It stinks! It is so hard to ward off that negativity and remain positive.

Sometimes our lives aren’t all that different than Nephi’s. In fact, most of us can relate to Nephi in one way or another. Many of us are on our own “journeys” to a metaphorical promised land. I’m on my own personal journey and I know that I need the guidance of my Heavenly Father. I don’t have the luxury to murmur and complain. I don’t have the luxury to be around people who will mess up my good vibe with their murmuring and complaining. I imagine that it was the same for Nephi.

I mean, he was hungry, too! And now, he’s surrounded by people who are complaining. Their complaints lack faith, but are probably justified in their minds because of what they consider the “reality” of the situation….They are starving!

Even though they may feel justified, I have to ask again, What’s the point??? What good did it really do for Laman or Lemuel or Lehi to murmur? How did it improve their situation? It was a complete waste of time and energy.

Thankfully Nephi had kept an eye of faith. Unfortunately, he had to waste some time to buoy up his brothers. But he did. And then, because of his faithful attitude, because of his positivity, he was able to find a solution.

Imagine if Nephi had given in to the negativity and murmuring? I think that we could safely guess that if Nephi had given into the “venting,” the anger, the complaints, then…we wouldn’t have this record. They wouldn’t have made it to the promised land. They might have starved to death right there – in some random place on the Arabian Peninsula near the borders of the Red Sea.

They didn’t have that luxury! This was a life-or-death situation! They needed to remain positive and close to the Spirit, or die. If Nephi had given into the temptation to be frustrated, then all of the work – all of the trials, all of the journeying, all of the trips back to Jerusalem – all of it would have been a waste because they would have wasted away in the wilderness.

Thankfully, Nephi stayed in a positive state – one that made him worthy of the guidance, comfort, and companionship of the Holy Ghost. Because he wasn’t wasting his time complaining, he thought of a solution:

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?” – 1 Nephi 16:23

One last thing.

This is such a simple solution. I mean, it’s almost like a Duh solution. And I will admit that I’ve even wondered, why did it take them so long to figure that out?! Duh! Make a bow! Get some food!

And that’s the thing – usually there are pretty simple solutions to our problems. But if we are so overcome with worry, fear, and doubting our God, we cloud our vision. We become blind to the obvious answers around us.

Instead, if we want to be able to find solutions during the challenges of our lives, we need to remain calm. We need to see the situation objectively – rather than feel that it is a personal slight against us from God. We need to pray that our perspectives can be broadened. As we take this calm and rational approach, then we will be able to see clearly. The Lord will help to direct our paths so we can find solutions – even in the middle of excruciatingly difficult trials.

There is no benefit to negativity or murmuring. It is a stupid thing to do. It blinds us. It paralyzes us. We don’t look smarter. We aren’t better off. We will miss the opportunities. We will close our minds and eyes off – making it impossible for us to find the solutions we so desperately need in our lives. There is no benefit to negativity, complaining or murmuring. None. Whatsoever.

So – we need to stay faithful. Even when our faith leads us on a road that feels difficult. Even when our faith seems to allow for problems and challenges. We need to remember that the faithful path is uphill. The Lord is bringing us to higher ground. There will be obstacles, and this isn’t a personal slight against us. It’s just the way it is.

Staying positive and faithful is the only way to keep our vision. Keeping our faith keeps our eyes – both spiritual and physical open. Because Nephi kept his faith, his entire family was saved. He found a solution. They got food. They made it to the promised land.

Blogging the Book of Mormon – Healed by the Power of the Lamb of God – 1 Nephi 11:30-31

You can read 1 Nephi 11:30-31 here.

Context and General Information

  • Nephi is seeing the vision of the tree of life.
  • The Spirit tells Nephi to look. Nephi looks and sees the heavens open and angels ministering to the children of men.
  • Again the Spirit tells Nephi to look. Nephi looks and sees the Savior healing people and performing miracles.

Healed by the Power of the Lamb of God

As a part of the vision of the tree of life that Nephi sees, he also witnesses of Christ’s life. The Spirit shows Nephi what will happen when Christ lives on the earth among men. Nephi states:

“And he spake unto me again, saying: Look! And I looked, and I beheld the Lamb of God going forth among the children of men. And I beheld multitudes of people who were sick, and who were afflicted with all manner of diseases, and with devils and unclean spirits; and the angel spake and showed all these things unto me. And they were healed by the power of the Lamb of God; and the devils and the unclean spirits were cast out.” – 1 Nephi 11:31

Nephi sees sick people – afflicted with all kinds of diseases. He sees physical and mental illness. And then He sees that all of these people were healed – physically, spiritually, and emotionally by the power of the Savior.

I can’t help but think about healing. Isn’t that really what all of us want – to be healed? Whether it is a physical ailment or an emotional trauma, healing is something we all so desperately need.

This makes me think of one of my favorite scriptures:

” O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?” – 3 Nephi 9:13

I know that it might seem like a kind of strange scripture to love. But, I think that what I love about it is how Christ is pleading with us – to return to Him, repent, and be converted. And why? So He can heal us.

I remember when my children were toddlers. Each of them went through an insanely independent phase. Often, I heard “No! I do it!” as they tried to do a multitude of things that they absolutely couldn’t do. I would beg them to let me help – even with a chuckle because I could see how impossible their predicament was. Still, No! I DO IT! would follow.

Sometimes I think that we are like toddlers. Instead of trusting the Savior who is ready to heal us, we often turn away from Him, thinking we can do it ourselves or that we know a better way.

It’s so silly.

I’m prone to it.

But I can also see why it happens sometimes. We don’t live in the time of the Savior. There isn’t a man that we can see, receive a blessing from, and then ta-da!!!!!… Everything is magically better.

Instead, we have to remember that often Christ comes to us line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little there a little. So – first we come unto Christ, then He reveals, but usually what He reveals is exactly what we’ll need to get to the next step. Then the process must be repeated.

Sometimes, I think, this is also how He heals us. Sometimes He heals one part after another – piecemeal – until we can be fully integrated with His healing. I’m not sure if this makes any sense to you, but it makes sense to me. It takes time and effort, faith in Christ, and patience as He heals us – from our worries, fears, illnesses, and more.

Another aspect of faith that we need in order to be healed is patience. Sometimes we aren’t healed the way that we would like. I don’t think that this is always about us lacking the faith that Christ is capable of healing us. Sometimes we are instead asked to exercise our faith by accepting God’s will for us – which may include something that stretches us out of our comfort zone. Sometimes, instead of calming the storm, the Lord gives us the strength to weather it. Even though we aren’t healed from the immediate illness, I think that this experience helps us to be healed from the bigger problem – being fallen men and women.

The Savior always has the big picture in mind.

I’m sorry. I’m getting sleepy while I write today. I hope this is coherent.

I’ll give an example. A few years ago, I was having some problems with my skin. I had all of these blisters and rashes on my hands.

dishydrotic eczema, or something…no fun

In this picture, the blisters aren’t even bad! At the worst, my hands were so covered in blisters, they were actually oozing some kind of fluid (gross!) they looked like raw hamburger. And my body was covered with eczema and hives and rashes. I had to go onto Prednisone several times. It wasn’t fun.

Of course, I also asked for blessings. I prayed, pleaded for help. I prayed that I would have the faith I needed to be healed. But I wasn’t healed. Still, my skin is sensitive. Still, I could blow up like this at any time.

So yes – the idea of the Savior coming with healing in His wings was very intriguing to me. I wanted that. I kind of felt like there must have been something I was doing wrong because I wasn’t healed. If only I had more faith…

But it wasn’t faith to be healed that I lacked. Instead, I lacked faith in God’s plan for me – that I needed to weather this storm. That this was a part of my life that I needed to participate in – in order to reach my potential and learn what I need to learn now. I lacked the long-term vision – that we suffer now, but we will not suffer forever. This issue with my skin would really be a small blip in the context of my life.

It was hard to have that kind of faith sometimes – when I was itching beyond belief. (Side note – I heard that they would put itching powder on the prisoners in Guantanamo or other places where they were questioning terrorists. And now I understand why. Itching is so annoying! I would have given up any state secret to stop itching. Thank goodness I don’t know any state secrets!) I just wanted relief. I just wanted the Son of Righteousness … with healing in his wings;… to heal me so I could stop itching. I couldn’t sleep or think with all of the itching. (See 3 Nephi 25:2.)

Worst of all, I knew that my itching was nothing! I know that there are people who are struggling with real, terminal diseases – diseases that will kill them. I have a friend with M.S., and I’m sure that she wishes her only issue was itching. I knew that I was fine – just inconvenienced. And yet, I longed to be healed. I began to feel a bit of sympathy for people who also seek healing.

Anyway – the Lord didn’t heal me right away. He comforted me. He prompted me to research the causes of the issues I was facing. And this research took time. This research took trial AND ERROR! I was often frustrated when, after a good run of rash-free life, I’d be covered again from head to toe with hives and blisters and itching.

But, over time, with failed trials, I started to discover what doesn’t work. This guided me, eventually, to what does work. I started to see the little causes of these flare-ups, and how to mitigate them.

Though the Lord didn’t immediately heal me, He has taught me a series of bigger lessons. I needed to learn to slow down and listen to my body. I needed to learn to rely on Him. I needed to learn to manage stress. I needed to learn to be my own advocate (with the doctor). I needed to learn how to patiently endure affliction so that I could better help and appreciate others. I wouldn’t have learned any of these things if the Savior granted my desire to be healed and absolved of suffering of any kind.

Though the Lord didn’t heal me immediately, He has healed me through this illness. I hope that I have become a better person as I’ve learned to endure the trials that the Lord has trusted me to experience.

Anyway – I’m going to wrap this up.

I can’t imagine the amount of suffering that took place during the time of Christ. If my husband and daughter had been alive at that time, they would be blind beggars. Just imagine that – the people you know who need glasses. There were no corrective lenses back in the Savior’s time. I can’t even imagine it! I can’t imagine the pain and suffering people went through – simple infections killed people. Can you imagine a toothache before dentistry???

The Savior demonstrated His great love and power to the people, directly. He healed the sick and the afflicted. He healed their bodies, their minds, their hearts, their blood, their spirits. He did this out of His love for them.

And this healing that He performed is nothing compared to The Healing that He offers to all of us. He has healed us from the effects of the fall: Death and Sin – if we will simply come unto Him, He will heal us.