My husband and I have always been deeply moved by Nephi and how he always kept the commandments without question, even when he didn’t know why or how. He always had faith that God will “prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7).
Building a Ship
For example, when reading the Come, Follow Me lesson for January 27 to February 2, 2020, we were impressed that Nephi did not question how he would build a ship to carry the people to the promised land. Instead, his immediate response was “wither 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?” (1 Nephi 17:9).
It is clear Nephi did not get his confidence from his brothers Laman and Lemuel. They did “murmur,” “complain,” and withheld their “labor” (1 Nephi 17:17-18). When their actions caused Nephi extreme sorrow and grief, they mocked, “We knew that ye could not construct a ship, for we knew that ye were lacking in judgment” (1 Nephi 17:19).
In spite of their taunts, Nephi reviewed the miracles and promises performed for the children of Israel through Moses, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (1 Nephi 17:23-43). He testified that his father had been commanded by the Lord to “depart into the wilderness” and reminded them that they not only had seen and heard an angel but also been spoken to “in a still small voice” (1 Nephi 17:44-45). Nephi was so “full of the Spirit of God, insomuch that my frame has no strength” (1 Nephi 17:47).
Thinking that he was weak or sick, Laman and Lemuel attempted to kill Nephi. At this point, Nephi commanded them not to “touch” him or they should “wither even as a dried reed” (1 Nephi 17:48).
He directed them to “murmur no more against their father; neither should they withhold their labor” in building the ship (1 Nephi 17:49). His teachings were so powerful that Laman and Lemuel “could not contend against me; neither durst they lay their hands upon me nor touch me with their fingers, even for the space of many days” (1 Nephi 17:52). When they were about to worship him, he counselled them, “worship the Lord thy God, and honor thy father and thy mother” (1 Nephi 17:55).
Providing Food for His Family
An earlier experience demonstrates Nephi’s love of God and respect for his father. We can only surmise the dire conditions Lehi’s family suffered while traveling through harsh and dangerous regions. At a very critical time, Nephi disclosed, “I did break my bow, which was made of fine steel” (1 Nephi 16:18). Because his brother’s bows had “lost their springs” this meant that “we could obtain no food” (1 Nephi 16:21).
When it came to facing starvation and death, it seemed just too much for everyone in the family and even “my father did murmur against the Lord” (1 Nephi 16:20). Maybe it was time for someone else to take over as his father apparently had given up. Most family members would have made such a decision. That is not, however, what Nephi did!
Instead, he went looking for “wood” to make a bow and a “straight stick” for an arrow, and then he asked his father, “Withersoever shall I go to obtain food?” (1 Nephi 16:23). Nephi could have prayed himself and completely taken over, but he did not.
Nephi showed the utmost respect for his father as well as remarkable insight of faith. As a result, Lehi “was truly chastened” by the Lord and told to “look upon the ball” - the Liahona (1 Nephi 16:24-25). Lehi’s fatherly and spiritual leadership remained intact.
Faithfully following the directions written upon the Liahona, Nephi went “into the top of the mountain” where he “did slay wild beasts, insomuch that I did obtain food for our families” (1 Nephi 16:30-31).
Guided by the Holy Ghost and by Prophets, Leaders, and Parents
What remarkable stories these are. Nephi’s faith was firm even though he often did not know how the Lord would help him, “I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.” (1 Nephi 4:6). Nephi clearly explains this is not something new: “For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come” (1 Nephi 10:19).
Thankfully, God’s word is also sounded today through leaders endowed with priesthood power: our beloved Prophet and the Counselors in the First Presidency, the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, General Authorities, General Officers, stake presidents, bishops, ward leaders, and especially parents. The Lord determines who will lead us just as He did with Nephi.
When our own challenges come our way, and they surely will, we must be on the ready just like Nephi. We must not be found among the murmurers and complainers but be obedient and encourage others. We need to assess and initiate things as we deal with difficult situations and then prayerfully seek guidance from the Lord.
This will help us qualify for revelation that President Russell M. Nelson has admonished us to seek: “Imagine the miracle of it! Whatever our Church calling, we can pray to our Heavenly Father and receive guidance and direction, be warned about dangers and distractions, and be enabled to accomplish things we simply could not do on our own. If we will truly receive the Holy Ghost and learn to discern and understand His promptings, we will be guided in matters large and small … My beloved brothers and sisters I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign, May 2018, 93-96).