Friday, June 22, 2012

I Nephi 18 – A Study in Contrasts

I have always been fascinated by this chapter of scripture. It shows a significant contrast in how Nephi and his older siblings, Laman and Lemuel, respond to calls from the Lord.

As we read in the previous chapter, Nephi was commanded to build a ship. He had never done this before. His brothers mocked him, and refused to help. Eventually the Lord required him to use a little divinely inspired percussive persuasion to get them moving. It was ONLY after this experience that they repented and worshipped the Lord.

I get the impression however, that they weren’t thrilled with the task of building a ship when they believed that their brother had no idea of what he is doing. This point is brought home in verse 4, when we read that it was ONLY after the ship was built and looked good that his older brothers “humbled themselves again before the lord.”

The point being that Laman and Lemuel would only repent after they saw a sign or received some blessing from the Lord. Nephi’s life is in stark contrast to that paradigm.

When Nephi was commanded to build a ship, his response wasn’t, “Love to Lord, but I have no idea how to do that so if you could find someone with a little know how, I’ll chip in.” He got to work, and by that I mean he dug the ore to build the tools he would need to build a ship and then built the ship.

So the ship is built. Everyone agrees that it is well made. They set off for the promised land. At some point in time in their journey, his brethren and the sons of Ishmael and also their wives, began to be very rude. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it caused Nephi anxiety that it would cause the Lord to stop helping them on their journey.

Accordingly, he asked them to tone down their behavior. Did they comply? Of course not. They got angry at him and eventually tied Nephi to the mast of the ship. This is the part that really amazes me about Nephi. For most of us, at least for me, it would be human nature to say, “Really Lord? You had me go through so much grief just to get it built and now I’m tied to its mast by my ingrate brothers?” He was tied to the mast for 4 days. Stop to think about that for a while. There are certain things that the human body needs to do on a daily basis, like use the restroom. He was not untied for 4 days. Anything he needed to do during that period was done strapped to the ship’s mast. How humiliating. Are you with me here? He built the ship to save him and his family, including his brothers. He has done everything he can to serve those that hate him and would like to see him dead. Instead of griping about his situation, or cursing the Lord for the injustice of it all, the scriptures state, “Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.”.

Awesome right? Here’s a person that had every right to complain…but didn’t. I try to think of this scripture often as I’m going through challenges and struggles. It helps me to remember that the Lord really is aware of what I’m going through, and He has his purposes for what He wants me to experience and become. I only hope that I can try to be a little more like Nephi as I’m traversing life’s difficult ocean of trials and tribulations.

No comments: