Thursday, November 12, 2009

2 Nephi - Chapter 4

Sincerest apologies for not posting yesterday.  I was on a road trip in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona and the motel in Cameron, while it claimed to have internet, couldn't make it work.  I had the grandest time.

I love the Psalm of Nephi found in this chapter.  I so much appreciate Nephi's candor.  None of us think of him as a wretched man, but clearly that is how he felt.  How often I have felt like a wretched man.  Clearly Nephi wasn't perfect, none of us are.  In his willingness to make his imperfection manifest he affords us a rare glimpse at the Atonement and it's purpose and power.  Not often to we witness such open admission of guilt and shame coupled with the healing, comforting application of the Atonement.  We see it with Paul and Alma, but in more dramatic situations catalyzed by a heavenly manifestation.  Here it seems to come as a result of soul searching; a circumstance more common to most of us.  I too have done some soul searching that resulted in grief as Nephi describes and like him, I have come to trust in the Lord to help me through my bad times and forgive me for my failings.  There is only one way to do that, by trusting in the Lord.  Trusting he will do what He says He will - redeem us.

Most of my life I have considered myself to be an inferior form of humanity.  Through many years of personal torment I have looked upon other "succeeding" Saints thinking they some how had, within themselves, a capacity for good that I simply lacked.  Much of that misinterpretation of others and their ability came because of my own personal paradigm:  I must save myself.  And much of it came because everyone around me, while trying to be a "good example" hid from me the very real fact that they were either concealing their weakness and misbehavior or failing to open up enough to show me how to rely on the merits and mercy of Christ in order to live appropriately.

I look forward to a day in the Kingdom, when Nephi-like candor will liberate us all to better understand the Atonement and allow us to individually learn to trust in the true and living God as Nephi did.  I'm not calling for members to air their dirty laundry.  Nephi didn't have to expose all of the gory details of his weakness to let us know, very plainly, that trusting in God, far exceeded trusting in the arm of the flesh.  We could be more willing to do the same and thus help fools like me, to more quickly understand how this all works.  I now can see that my Bishops and Stake Presidents and other fellow Saints are not perfect, or nearly so, on their own steam; they have just learned to trust in the Lord and His redeeming sacrifice and plan.  I just wish they had been more willing to show me how that worked for them, like Nephi has.


D1Warbler said...

In this chapter, we learn the power of gratitude. It is only when Nephi begins to count his blessings that his despair leaves.

Also, within this chapter can be found eight steps for solving any problem. The first step, which encompases verses 15 and 16 is Nephi's Mission Statement. The second step comes in verses 17 - 19 in which he lists his problems. The third step is found in verse 20 where he begins to count his blessings. This step goes through verse 25. The fourth step occurs in verses 26 and 27 when he asks himself important questions about his problem. The fifth step comes in verse 29 when he takes control of his problems. Then, in verse 30, (step six) he gives thanks to the Lord for all the Lord has done for him. In verse 31, he asks the Lord for help (step seven); and in verse 34 (or step eight) he puts his trust in the Lord for everything.

Again, those steps in order are:
1. Articulating a Mission Statement
2. Listing Problems
3. Counting Blessings
4. Determination to Change
5. Asking Questions
6. Giving Thanks
7. Asking for the Lord's Help
8. Trusting the Lord

In a previous Book of Mormon class, our entire class went through this process. We each came up with our own mission statement and personally went through all the succeeding steps. In the end, we ALL found -- just like Nephi -- that our mission or our problem was immediately bearable (and solve-able)once we listed the things we were grateful for and enlisted the help of the Lord.
We tried it again the following year, and although our problems had changed, the process worked in exactly the same way to lessen our burdens, etc.

Love Life and Learning said...

I am curious if Nephi is giving a glimpse into what his sin was? Not that I think it matters; as the beautiful lessons we've been taught in this discussion have been wonderful.

Nephi's experience was such a blessing to me a year ago and so if the lesson I learned will benefit anyone else...I mention it here.

13 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.

I wonder if Nephi's turmoil of soul was due to the fact that he was a bit weary and worn by years of being judged by Laman and Lemuel. It would be understandable that he might be feeling anger towards them. I know it is almost impossible to go forward when anger is present. Anger is very consuming if not checked.

20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness;(broken bow) and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep. (bound by his brothers)

In some ways very long years for Nephi

Beginning with verse 17 of chapter 4 Nephi we see a lot of "I" and "me". It is remarkable how different the feeling is when Nephi begins using the pronoun "He".

20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness;(broken bow) and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep. (bound by his brothers)

27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? 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? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?
28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.
29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.

It is possbile that Nephi's anger and lack of peace was an internal struggle as he began to react instead of to act. Those around him may not even have seen the turmoil within. Nephi would know that those kind of feelings if not harnessed would drive the Spirit from him.

30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
31 O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?

Mosiah 4: 30
30 But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.

Candleman said...

Wow! What a brilliant, important review of Nephi's struggle. Thank you so much Wendy!