March 24, 2011
While reading 1 Nephi 7:8-12 today, the thought occur ed to me that Nephi internalized what the Lord had done for him and their family. Whereas, Laban and Lemuel had not.
Let me back up a bit. The past week or so, I've felt like I've been in a funk. It usually happens after an extremely busy or stressful week. When I'm in this funk, it's as though I'm in a daze and lack motivation to keep up with my goals ... everything seems to unravel ... I seem to forget the reasons for my drive and motivation.
So when I read this passage, I was subconsciously asking the question, "What made Nephi's motivation never fail? Why was he always on the up ... on the go? When Laman and Lemuel went into one of their lapses, Nephi's frustrations come out ... and when he's speaking, it's as if he's telling them what they need to do so that they don't forget why they are doing the things they are doing.
Nephi essentially lists out all the things he repeatedly thinks about ... the things he has settled in his heart. To me, it sounds a like like an exercise in counting blessings.
So that is what I learned today ... when I'm feeling low; when the wind seems to have been emptied from my sails, I'm going to count my blessings.
October 5, 2006
As I read about Nephi and his brothers going to Jerusalem again and then Laman and Lemuel’s rebellion (along with the two sons and two daughters of Ishmael) I loved how much faith Nephi showed. He was truly courageous to stand up against four other men … not just men, but family and friends. He had so much faith and believed in the prophecies of his father that he boldly testified to the others that they too would be destroyed if they returned to the city of Jerusalem. He even reminded them of their agency to choose whether to go back or stay. But for some reason, they did not go back! After all their murmurings about having to leave home and how difficult life was in the wilderness, when they were finally reminded of their agency to go back, they chose not to! Instead they wanted to kill Nephi. Could this be the real source of their complaining? Maybe they didn’t want to leave the city, so they complained, but what may have really nagged at them in their heart of hearts was Nephi’s righteousness. Nephi was the example and his example was pushing the two complainers to do better when they knew they had to, but did not want to follow. Their idea or solution was not to live up to Nephi’s example but to eliminate the source of their discomfort. With Nephi around, they had to live up to his example, but if they kill him, they would not have to have that constant push on their conscience or so they thought.
I’ve seen in my own life many times in school where the lazy kids pick on the smart kids for their extra efforts to achieve good scores and grades. When the smart kids (or achievers) do their best, it makes the lazy kids look bad. Now the lazy kids don’t want to look bad, so they pick on the achievers in hopes the achievers will get discouraged and slow their pace down. They simply do not want to take responsibility for their actions. They want a free ride in life. Laman and Lemuel wanted a free ride to the Promised Land. They never bothered to ask the Lord for a confirmation of Lehi’s revelations. In stead they piggy-backed on the efforts of the rest of the traveling family. Part of the Lord’s plan for us is to go through adversity. The challenge of adversity is what builds character and makes us stronger and more perfect. Laman and Lemuel were worried about “looking bad.” They hoped to destroy Nephi so that their conscious would not be afflicted.
What I also love about this chapter is Nephi’s charity. After the big dispute and after the Lord loosened the cords that bound Nephi, the daughters of Ishmael calmed the two hot heads. When they returned to their senses, they begged Nephi for forgiveness. They even bowed down before Nephi. Nephi being the loving brother and diligent disciple of Christ, “frankly forgave them.” He truly loved his enemies. He took advantage of their humbled state and exhorted them to pray to God and ask forgiveness of their sins. Even though Nephi would see the outcome of his brothers (in his vision) he and his seed labored diligently to teach Laman and Lemuel’s posterity the ways of the Lord. Nephi is an excellent example of charity, patience, and how to bring others unto Christ.
The incident in the wilderness in this chapter was another step for Nephi in becoming a prophet. His charity, patience, and his ability to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost were tested and proven. At one point, he practically encourages his brothers to go back to Jerusalem. But once they chose to stay with Nephi, he did not constantly remind them of the choice to go back. In stead, he continued to try to help them understand the dealings of the Lord. He could have easily provoked Laman and Lemuel to return to Jerusalem. That would have been two less headaches to deal with. But, he developed his patience and charity and loved and worked with and taught Laman and Lemuel. Sometimes the toughest people to get along with are those closest to you. Nephi is a wonderful example of being your brother’s keeper.
One other thing that I noticed is that Nephi did not tell his parents what went on in the wilderness or at least the Book of Mormon doesn’t say that he told them. I think that Nephi really loved his brothers and wanted the best for them. He didn’t hold grudges against them and he did not remember every evil act they committed against him. He simply loved them and exhorted them to do what was right.