Nephi’s Journey, Our Journey
November 24, 2011 4 Comments
In the second book of Nephi we get a wonderful glimpse into the humanity of Nephi. His father Lehi had just died and the murmurings of his older brothers had reached an all-time high. One can imagine Nephi heading to his favorite spot of refuge – a mountain top, a forest – a place where he could ponder and pray. There, “in the space of not so many verses”, we witness Nephi taking a profoundly common, mortal journey – a series of phases similar to the stages of grief.
A Starting Point
15 And upon athese I bwrite the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul cdelighteth in the scriptures, and my heart dpondereththem, and writeth them for the elearning and the profit of my children.
It is significant that as he considers his circumstances, the trails through which he is passing and searches for answers or at the very least, a little comfort, the place he starts is in the scriptures. He reminds himself of the “tender mercies” (1 Nephi 1:20) the Lord has shown him, his family and all of God’s children. In fact, perhaps THIS is the place of Nephi’s refuge. Could he have just retired to his tent and opened up his scriptures?
Discouragement, disappointment and anger.
17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great agoodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O bwretched man that I am! Yea, my heart csorrowethbecause of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily abeset me.
19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; (2 Nephi 4)
For me, Nephi is more concerned about himself and his relation to God than he is angry with his brothers. Sure, their constant complaining and abuse provide part of the “clinical material” of Nephi’s circumstances but his reaction to them – and his other trials – is what really concerns him. And like the rest of us, he is very hard on himself. “O wretched man that I am!” echoes in the souls of every child of God trying to do his/her best but coming up short.
Really, I can trust Him
nevertheless, I know in whom I have atrusted.
22 He hath confounded mine aenemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.
24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty aprayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.
25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been acarriedaway upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them. (2 Nephi 4)
As if Nephi realizes or remembers he can’t save himself, he turns to the source of His salvation. He acknowledges that no matter how bad it gets, or how good it gets, it is in Christ that he has placed all his salvationial trust. He reminds himself that time and time again Christ has come to his rescue and has blessed him despite his failings. It is so important we realize how grace works and none of us are more powerful to goof-up than Christ is to redeem.
Asking the “why” questions
26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath avisited men in so much bmercy, cwhy should my dheart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?
27 And why should I ayield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to btemptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my cpeace and afflict my soul? Why am Idangry because of mine enemy? (2 Nephi 4)
Nephi seems to return, at least in part, to being discouraged about his weaknesses. “If Christ is so great, and I trust Him, then why can’t I be better? Why can’t I just be happy? More than anything, I think the question is, “why can’t we remember?” If we could just remember all the times Christ has saved us; has blessed us. If we could just remember the FEELINGS we have in those spiritual “ah-ha” experiences then we could always be happy.
As my dad used to tell me, “Suck it up!”
29 Do not aanger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.
Nephi takes heart. He exclaims his resolve to be better, to trust more. Regardless of life’s tactical circumstances, regardless of what others might say, no matter what, we have every reason to be hopeful, to be faithful, to be joyful. Indeed, we can trust the “rock of salvation.” When things get tough and big decisions are to be made, we should consider not only what Jesus would do, but remember what Jesus did; both at Gethsemane and on Calvary.
Committed and seeking help
32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my aheart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I maybwalk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!
33 O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thyarighteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine benemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.
34 O Lord, I have atrusted in thee, and I will btrust in thee forever. I will not put my ctrust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his dtrust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
35 Yea, I know that God will give aliberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I bask cnot amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the drockof my erighteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen. (2 Nephi 4)
Finally, Nephi is resolved to change – or at least refine – and petitions Heavenly-father for help. Again, it is through the blessings of the Atonement and grace that will enable Nephi to spiritually succeed and find happiness. It is through prayer, real prayer, that he will gain access to the powers of the Atonement.
What a journey! In just 21 verses, Nephi travels a road we all, at on time or another, travel. Sometimes we travel this journey over several days, months or even years. Other times we travel this journey multiple times in a day. We all can learn from how Nephi handled his journey. Scriptures, remembering, honest reflection, trusting Christ, sucking it up and prayer are all part of the human experience and keys to successfully navigating our journey.