Chapter 17 is a wonderful chapter. I love reading this chapter over and over again. Today when I read it again, I learned a profound lesson: the power of your word. In verses 26 to 31, Nephi talks about how by the Lord’s word many things were done. In verse 31 Nephi states that “not anything [was or is] done save it were by his word.” The lesson I learned is this. Heavenly Father makes covenants with us and we with him. In essence, we give our word to him that we will keep our word or that we won’t do the things we said we won’t do and we will do the things we said we would do. But how many times do I as an individual break my word? I am afraid that I don’t keep my word all the time. I believe that Heavenly Father has that power because he has always kept His word. When he says something will happen, it will happen. When he commands us to do something, we can be assured that we can accomplish it.
Heavenly Father wants us to keep our word. The more consistently we keep our word, the more powerful we become, for we know that if we say we will do something and then we do it, we feel good and there is a certain power and self discipline that comes from it. Therefore, the more consistent we are in keeping our word, the more powerful we become. We become masters of our wills. Then, when we make covenants with God, and we keep those covenants, we become even more powerful and we become more like God.
The test, therefore, lies in keeping our word. If we can keep our word in simple things, we will eventually be able to keep our word in greater things. As we keep our covenants more consistently, the closer we grow to Father in Heaven. What a powerful precept.
A couple of other things hit me when I read this chapter today with my wife. In verse 45, Nephi gives us some insight on the Holy Ghost. He tells Laman and Lemuel that they have heard the voice of the Lord and that His voice is still and small. He continues to tell Laman and Lemuel that they could not feel His words. From this scripture, the Holy Ghost’s promptings are ones that we feel. If you are past feeling, then you will not be able to hear the still small voice. No wonder the Lord counsels us to keep humble and to keep our lives clean and in order so that we may feel the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
The other verse that really hit me today was in verse 49. Nephi simply states, “God had commanded me that I should build a ship.” When I read that today, I immediately thought that we are God’s creations and that if we rebel against him, it would be similar to a painting or sculptor rebelling against its maker or in other words doing something other than what it was intended for.
I believe that God is all-knowing. When he began this quest to achieve immortality and eternal life for all his children, he foresaw all the problems and dilemmas he would face. But he prepared for that. What makes his task incredibly difficult is our agency coupled with the temptations of Satan. Both of those factors may be predictable, but their actions are not set in stone ... each of us can choose.
What makes His task easier is if we all choose to do what is right. God provides us direction and if we follow, we will be blessed and we help in the great work.
The thought that is re-assuring to me and all of us is that God is perfect and all-knowing. When he commands and we follow, the consequence are as they should be. Unlike the author of the Morris worm ... when he commanded, the program followed and the consequences were not as they intended to be.