Monday, October 19, 2009

1 Nephi - Chapter 3

This chapter is dear to my heart.  Trusting that the Lord will provide has been an elemental theme in my life.  Sometimes I have, sometimes I have not - trusted.  Always, it has been accompanied by the opportunity to grow in trust and acquaintance with God.

This principle promises that God will always provide.  It also seems to promise that it will include an element of difficulty.  I am grateful to revisit this particular story, today.  Today I am unemployed and in need of divine assistance.  I am reminded of a previous time in my life when my circumstances were similar.  I had owned a business which failed.  On the final day, my partner and I closed the doors and divided up the cash in the till.  $100.00 for him and $100.00 for me.  The following morning, Sunday, my Bishop called me in for a visit.  As I sat in his office I expected a new Ward calling.  Instead, he informed me that accompanying the new High School being built in our community, a new Seminary building would be required.  He then asked that my family contribute $100.00 to the Seminary building fund.  Looking back, I think it is significant that I was asked for the exact amount of money I had in my pocket.

I explained, that morning, to the Bishop, that I was unemployed, deep in debt, had a family to feed, bills to pay, and that $100.00 was literally all I had to my name.  Kindly, the Bishop excused me from my obligation.  As we are wont to do in such humbling circumstances, I went home from church and began again, to read The Book of Mormon.  I came to 1 Nephi 3:7.  As I read that wonderful account of Nephi's faith, the Spirit whispered assurance that the same principle applied to me.  Filled with faith, bolstered by this scripture and the companionship of the Holy Ghost, I got up, returned to my Bishop and gave him every cent I had in my possession.

That afternoon we went to my Mother-in-law's for supper and upon our return, found a friend standing on our front porch.  We invited him in and chatted a while.  Then he explained that he'd been sitting in Sacrament Meeting in his Ward.  While there he'd offered a silent prayer that Heavenly Father would guide him to someone who would both work for him on his Oil Field Service Rig and be a clean spoken, clean living companion on out of town jobs.  He told me that my name had been impressed upon his mind.  He'd had no idea my business had failed, but came to see me anyway.  He pleadingly offered me the job accompanied by a $1500.00 signing bonus, both of which I gratefully accepted.  Today, I can't drive by or visit that Seminary building without feeling deeply grateful to a loving Heavenly Father, who always provides a way to keep all of His commandments.


di said...

19 And behold, it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records, that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers;

I read this and I’m thinking of Nephi—perhaps 14-16 years old-- and able to think of his children and posterity and the effect of his actions upon their lives. It reinforces my testimony that he was called of God and harkened unto him.

Nephi’s tests were harsh and his responsibilities were tremendous. I believe that our afflictions have one purpose…to being us to Christ. He can see not only our lives, but the generations that follow us and the influence our decisions have upon them.

D1Warbler said...

My husband is currently unemployed, too, and has been for the past seven months.
I hope we don't get to the point you did before we see light on the horizon, but if we do, I hope we exercise as much faith as you and Nephi were prompted to exercise.

My third great Grandmother gave her only possession of worth (her deceased husband's gold watch) to the Church when she lived in Nauvoo. She was promised when she did so that because of that sacrifice, none of her descendants would ever starve. I am not aware of a single one who ever has, although circumstances have been tight for some. What a blessing her sacrifice has been for our family.

As you discovered, it is when we are at the margins of life that we are tested the most. If we follow the Lord in those circumstances, we are greatly blessed. Even so, that is often when it is the hardest to have that kind of faith -- which is what makes Nephi's comment to his Father (and to the Lord) so amazing.

I have several other thoughts about this significant chapter. I love the fact that just previous to the events which unfold in this chapter, Nephi has had a desire to believe the words of his Father. Thus, he goes directly to the SOURCE to find out if what his Father has said is true. In doing so, he develops his own faith, which then allows him to trust that the Lord has directed the called for return to Jerusalem. That, in turn, allows him to not murmur.

It is this experience -- which he sought --which also allows him to then make his extraordinary statement to his Father about his willingness to do as the Lord commands. (I.e., because he exercised his "seed" of faith, the rewards, in this instance are powerful and immediate -- as well as life changing for him and for his entire family. They are also life changing for us as the events of the Book of Mormon could have been entirely different without the influence on the Nephites and later on some of the Lamanites of the Plates of Brass!)

Further into the chapter, the results of the two oaths Nephi utters are also powerful and immediate. Because of his determination to carry out the instructions of the Lord in this matter, when his brothers want to return to Jerusalem once Laban has tried to slay Lamen, Nephi stops his rebellious brothers in their tracks by saying, "As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us." Those two oaths are the strongest oaths a person living in Nephi's time could utter, and they have their desired effect, as the brothers change their minds and pursue a new strategy, which then leads them to lose all their Father's gold and silver, etc., to Laban.

I think the Lord wisely allowed that to happen to the brothers as that removed a great temptation from Laman and Lemuel who might, otherwise, have eventually left their family and returned to Jerusalem to stay.

We will see the power of those oaths time and again throughout the Book of Mormon, but that is the first time they are mentioned in the record.

I also think it is interesting how little impact the visit of the Angel has on Laman and Lemuel. It stops their assault on Sam and Nephi as well as their murmuring for a short while, but doesn't have a lasting impact on them because their hearts are hard and are not open to self evaluation and repentance. Just think of the difference between their reaction and that of Paul or of Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah who were immediately open to the spirit and to change.

Candleman said...

I'd never thought of that! The slaying of Laban did close the door of Jerusalem for Laman and Lemuel. And while Laman and Lemuel never took full advantage of the blessing that became, many many of their posterity eventually did! Wow!

D1Warbler said...

I had thought that the loss of their Father's wealth would lessen the temptation to return to Jerusalem for Laman and Lemuel (and perhaps, even for Sam), but I hadn't considered that once Nephi slew Laban, there was really no hope for a permanent return to Jerusalem for any of them. In fact, I'm surprised the brothers weren't worried about that when they had to return to get Ishmael and his family.

Love Life and Learning said...

Very insightful comments today. Things I had never thought of before. Thank you.

I have a son who told me once that whether God "curses" or "blesses" it is really with the same end in mind... to bless his child. How we receive it.... is a choice, with a consequence.