This week I will be using the study skill called visualize. With this study skill, I will be looking for the setting (who is there, the time, the place, where and what is going on,) looking for details in the text and asking questions to fill in my mental picture. I hope that this weeks posts will be helpful to you as you study the Book of Mormon too.
Imagine being in the wilderness with your family for years, sleeping in tents, enduring the weather, delivering babies, having to hunt for your food. This is the scene where Nephi begins this chapter. Nephi is in this wilderness and coming around from his vision and he goes to Lehi’s tent. He comes across his older brothers, arguing again trying to figure out if what Lehi had told them was true. Nephi says he was grieved because of the hardness of his brothers’ hearts. Grieved, think of this simple word. I grieve at the loss of a family member, I grieve at the loss of a friend. Imagine this pain over the hardness of your brothers heart. I know as a parent, I have grieved over some of the choices that my children have made and I do have three siblings of whom I have good relationships with, but never, have I grieved over their choices. So, in my imaginations, Nephi’s pain for his brothers is deep and his heart is wounded on behalf of them. In verse 3, Nephi tells us that Lehi spoke many things that would be difficult to understand unless one asked of God. Furthermore, in verse 4 Nephi was grieved because of the things which he had seen in his vision, knowing that his brothers would continue in this path that would not lead them to the tree of life. Nephi was then overwhelmed due to his afflictions and thought that his burden was heavy because he knew that his people would be destroyed; but he regained his strength and was able to speak to his brothers. He asks his brothers what they are arguing about.
Laman and Lemuel tell Nephi that they do not understand what Lehi had meant regarding the natural branches of the olive tree or about the Gentiles. Nephi asks them kindly “have ye inquired of the Lord?” Having love for a sibling is quite wondrous, and I have never used the same words that Nephi did with his brothers, but I know many times over the past couple of years, I have said to my sisters “turn it over to the Lord.” I can imagine myself in Nephi’s shoes. He wants to be able to help his brothers, but he knows his brothers have to be willing to help themselves too. Here along the side is a not so great picture of myself, my three sisters and our father. Each of us have had our own burdens and trials throughout our lives to this point, but we are family, and I know that if one of us were truly grieving for another, that we would all be grieving.
Laman and Lemuel then tell Nephi that God has not made things known to them. I ask, is it God’s responsibility to tell us everything, or is it our responsibility to learn? We are the children, He is the Father. He tells us that if we ask, we shall receive, if we knock it shall be opened. But if we do not ask or do not knock, what have we? Nothing is the answer, we have nothing. Nephi asks his brothers why they don’t keep the commandments of the Lord and why they have allowed their hearts to be hardened. He follows this by asking if they remember the things that the Lord said: “If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.” This seems pretty simple to me; follow the rules, ask your Father in faith and you will have the answer that you seek. I know that this doctrine is true. I have been in the shoes of Laman and Lemuel, I have doubted and then have remembered my Heavenly Father and turned to Him and the Savior and had my questions answered.
Nephi is so full of love for his brothers, that instead of waiting for them to humble themselves before the Lord, he answers the questions that they have. Can you visualize the patience and love radiating from Nephi as he explains to his brothers what will become of their extended families in the future? Can you see the confusion on the faces of Laman and Lemuel as they begin to comprehend the plan of God? Can you feel the Holy Ghost wash over Nephi as he tells them of Jesus Christ and His ministry and manifestation to their grandchildren?
I had to take a break from writing this post to build a couple of castles with my toddler. As I come back and she is sitting behind me smashing the castles to pieces, I read 1 Nephi 15:14-15. They read: “And at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are of the house of Israel, and that they are the covenant people of the Lord; and then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and also to the knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer, which was ministered unto their fathers by him; wherefore they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved. And then at that day will they not rejoice and give praise unto their everlasting God, their rock and their salvation? Yea, at that day, will they not receive the strength and nourishment from the true vine? Yea, will they not come unto the true fold of God?” As I read these two verses, I was overwhelmed with a warm feeling of love that brought tears of joy to my eyes. I can envision myself there, I can feel the love of our Heavenly Father and our Redeemer.
This chapter continues on with Nephi patiently explaining the meaning of Lehi’s vision to his brothers. He tells them in plain words about the tree of life and of the rod of iron. He then continues to tell them with “all the energies of my soul” to keep the commandments they have been given. Can you see the stress in Nephi’s face as he pleads with his brothers to be Christlike, to be obedient and loving? Have you ever had a conversation with a loved one that brought you to your knees simply pleading with them, with all of the energy of your soul for them to follow the light? I can out myself there, I can feel the power standing next to a prophet of God. How does it feel to watch President Thomas S Monson deliver a talk on conference Sunday? I know that I am completely uplifted and my soul delights in his word. I can not imagine the joy that I could feel if I were actually in the conference center let alone, standing next to him as he plead for eternal safety for a family member.
Needless to say, Nephi continues to explain patiently and kindly to his brethren the meaning of Lehi’s vision and thus this chapter ends.
Tomorrow we will still be in the wilderness, but some great things will come about. I hope you read then and remember some of the wonderful messages from General Conference this weekend. Don’t forget to “ponderize.”
I write this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.