Monday, July 7, 2014

Building Your Boat the Lord's Way According to Nephi

Today I was reading 1 Nephi 17 and I learned a little bit about doing things in God's way (not mine).
So Lehi and his family have been traveling eight years in the wilderness. They've received a lot of guidance from God that has kept them in the more fertile parts of the wilderness. They've seen a lot of affliction but they have also been blessed in miraculous ways.  They come to the seashore and called the place Bountiful. They name the ocean Irreantum (many waters). No joke - lots of water. They rejoiced. If I were them I would have thought "Well, here we are. It's been a nice trip. I'm glad it's over. We can't go any further so we must be done." But that would have been building my life my way. It seems that building a boat my way is not building a boat at all.
But one night Nephi is sleeping and the voice of the Lord comes to him saying "Arise,and get thee into the mountain." So the first step in building your boat the Lord's way is to get up out of bed and put your feet to the pavement.  By the way mountains in the scriptures are usually symbolic of the temple. So Nephi goes to the mountain and prays. Obviously the Lord needs him there so there must be a reason. Nephi is going to find out what that reason is. The Lord says "Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across here waters."
I am not as cool as Nephi - and I would probably still be thinking "But, Lord, we're done! Remember? We called it 'many waters' for a reason. Too many to cross. Plus - I can't build a boat. What if I mess up and we all drown? You've seen Gilligan's Island, if the skipper couldn't build a raft to get off of the island I can't build a boat. Even if I did build a boat that could hold us for a while - those waters do not appear to end. We will eventually fail."
Nephi didn't even have the metal to make tools. But he had the faith to move mountains. He said "Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me?" In order to get the guidance, we need to build our boat the Lord's way. We need to get moving, go to a place where we can be alone with the Lord, ask for direction and have the faith to follow through. The Lord told Nephi where to find metal and he went to work. He practiced using his own ingenuity and experience to do whatever he could to make it work. He wasn't slothful. He showed initiative. He built a bellows out of animal skins, he made a fire, and started melting rocks.  By his hard work Nephi had to show faith and exert his best effort. He knew he couldn't do it alone - but He also knew that the Lord wouldn't just hand him the answer because that would rob Nephi of a valuable learning experience. The Lord lets us try things out and do our best to think it through. He provides the miracle that gets us through.
Now Nephi's brothers have seen many of the same miracles and divine manifestations that Nephi has witnessed. The difference lies mostly in attitude. Laman and Lemuel don't trust God because they haven't tried to trust Him yet. Nephi knows firsthand that the Lord will make it possible because he has put his trust in the Lord before and it's worked out just fine. He took steps in faith, was obedient in hard times, and watched the Lord deliver him. Laman and Lemuel also don't pray for answers - which we've been watching Nephi do from chapter 2.
Nephi writes:

 17 And when my brethren saw that I was about to build a ship, they began to murmur against me, saying: Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters.
 18 And thus my brethren did complain against me, and were desirous that they might not labor, for they did not believe that I could build a ship; neither would they believe that I was instructed of the Lord.

If they don't yet know that the Lord has commanded Nephi to do this the best way to find out is to ask God about it. The way we learn pretty much everything is by asking questions. But asking questions is scary because it takes a lot of humility. You have to be willing to do what the Lord tells you to do. You have to accept the possibility that God might tell you that you were wrong. This is Laman and Lemuel's dilemma. 
Laman and Lemuel did end up helping with the ship. To their credit they even had enough faith to get on the boat. But they didn't ask God to know for themselves if that was the right thing to do. They kind of just went with what everyone else was doing. We can't do that. We have to be active participants in our own lives. We have to make hard choices and take steps in faith to follow God or the obedience won't last and we won't really change.

Spoilers: They made it across the ocean. The Lord made it possible. Nephi never forgot the miracle that the Lord had done for his family.

Let's build our lives the Lord's way by seeking His direction and then actively participating in the miracles.


Sister Caroline Faulkner

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