Led by the Spirit

So I’ve been transferred to Columbia Falls, Montana. I’ve only been here for… let’s see… not even half a day. I have no idea where anything is, but thankfully I’ve got my trusty companion to help me get it all down before he heads out in about six weeks. Once again, I’ve found myself out of my comfort zone. I’m in a new place and surrounded by new people. But I know I’m here for a reason, and whether or not I find out what it is I know I can accomplish my task if I rely on the Lord.

This reminds me of a very short verse in the Book of Mormon.

And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do. (1 Nephi 4:6)

Nephi and his brothers were in Jerusalem. They needed to obtain a record kept by a man named Laban. Their previous attempts at getting it had failed and nearly cost them their lives, but an angel had appeared to them and assured them that the record would be delivered into their hands. Nephi went into the city alone, unsure of what to do but nonetheless trusting that the Lord would somehow provide a way. He knew his mission, but he had no idea how he would accomplish it.

My mission, my purpose, is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. There are numerous ways to do this. Honestly, I have no idea what I’ll be doing in Columbia Falls in the next few months, but I’ll trust in the Lord and trust that the Holy Spirit will guide me.

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. (1 Nephi 3:7)

God does not give us a commandment without giving us a way to accomplish it. He will always provide a way.

The Broken Bow

In the beginning of the Book of Mormon, the prophet Lehi takes his family and friends and journeys into the wilderness out of Jerusalem. Life is good. They feed themselves well upon the beasts of the land… until Lehi’s son, Nephi, breaks his bow. Fail.

And it came to pass that as I, Nephi, went forth to slay food, behold, I did break my bow, which was made of fine steel; and after I did break my bow, behold, my brethren were angry with me because of the loss of my bow, for we did obtain no food. (1 Nephi 16:18)

Not only his brothers, but his entire family becomes angry at him and also God. Even Lehi complains against God. So what does Nephi do? What would you do?

Well, Nephi didn’t want to just sit around and be mad at God. Instead, he took action. Verse 23 of that same chapter says,

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?

Nephi gets to work and makes himself a new bow. After Lehi repents of his anger against God, he inquires of God where Nephi should go to get food. Nephi obeys and is able to slay animals for them to eat. Rejoice! Everyone is happy, and probably feeling like a bunch of fools for sittin’ around and doing nothing.

Nephi was part of the solution, not the problem. This is a prime example of doing our own part.

So, although we may not be out in the desert hunting beasts, we all have our own problems that come up, our own broken bows, if you will. They can be pretty much anything. Small or big, temporal or spiritual. They all must be solved the same way, however. If we expect a problem to be solved, we must take action and be part of the solution, like Nephi.

I know that if we do our part, God will cover the rest and provide a way to overcome our obstacles.

No more boats. No more fish.

The Apostles had given up everything to follow Christ. They forsook their families, possessions, and professions. Fishing was a shared livelihood among most of them. After Christ was crucified, the Apostles probably weren’t exactly sure what to do next. Peter decides he’s going to go back to what he knows: fishing. Many of the other disciples think it’s a pretty good idea and tag along.

Their fishing doesn’t go too well. They don’t catch anything. Thankfully, Jesus appears on the shore and directs them to a good spot. Not knowing who He really is, they cast in their net and catch so many fish that they can’t pull it all in. At this point, Peter realizes that the man is Jesus and, in his usual nature, puts on his coat and jumps overboard to swim to Him. Jesus, being the awesome guy that He is, cooks them a bit of breakfast from the fish.

As they’re sitting, Christ asks Peter, “lovest thou me more than these?” Peter answers Him, saying that of course he loves Him. Jesus replies, “Feed my lambs.” He then asks Peter a second time, “lovest thou me?” Peter answers again, “Thou knowest that I love thee.” Jesus tells him to feed His sheep.

Jesus then decides to get stern. Perhaps His voice carried a rebuking tone.

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (John 21:17)

As Peter denied Him thrice, Christ allows His disciple, three times, to accept Him. But more importantly, Jesus is trying to get something through to Peter. He asked Peter the first time if he loved Him “more than these.” More than the fish. More than the boats and the sea. More than the job and the money.

“Do you love me more than your own life, Peter?” That is essentially what Christ asked him.

Peter answered, “Of course, Lord, You know that I love You.”

“Then why were you out on your boat, Peter? Get to work. Feed my sheep.”

Christ didn’t call His disciples for a season. He didn’t call them until He would eventually die. He called them for forever. When He said “follow me”, He meant forever. No more boats. No more fish.

The same goes for the followers of Christ of all kinds. Whether you’re an apostle or the guy down the street, it doesn’t matter. Jesus Christ has told us, “come follow me.” He doesn’t mean for a few days, or a few months, or a few years. He doesn’t mean until things get rough. He doesn’t mean until we get bored or when we have nothing better to do. He means forever. No more boats. No more fish.

“Feed my sheep” is what He has told us. When one becomes a follower of Jesus Christ, there is no turning back the old life and the old ways. It is an eternal calling, an eternal duty, and one that I am happy to have placed on my shoulders. I’m not perfect, that’s for certain. We all have things that are difficult to let go or put aside for a better time. Thankfully, Christ will not leave us. He has told us to feed His sheep, but He will always be alongside us to aid us in that task.

From the words of Nephi, a Book of Mormon prophet,

I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. (1 Nephi 3:7)

More Worth Than Gold

Many people believe the Book of Mormon does not hold any worth or value. That it is unnecessary or a waste of time to even consider. Nephi, the second prophet in the Book of Mormon, said, concerning the contents of the Book of Mormon,

Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world.

Wherefore, I shall give commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men. (1 Nephi 6:5-6)

The prophets and other writers of the Book of Mormon did not write things that are pleasing to the world. They wrote the things of God. I testify that everything in the Book of Mormon is of worth unto us, the children of men. I testify that the Book of Mormon is overflowing with the doctrine of Jesus Christ. And I testify that the Book of Mormon is the most important book on the earth today, not just for the things it contains, but because it is the only way we can know that God and Jesus Christ restored Christ’s church through the prophet Joseph Smith.

Read the Book of Mormon, and find out for yourself  just how much worth it has.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

Well, I haven’t posted something for a few days now. That’s because this last weekend I was transferred into a new area. A little town up in northern Montana called Chinook. It’s a rather interesting place, and with spring and summer creeping around the corner I think I’ll enjoy my time here.

Transfers in a mission are always an exciting time. You never know if you’ll stay or be moved somewhere else. I was pretty sure that I was going to stay down in Bozeman, but apparently the Lord has other plans for me.

Such is life. We never know what the next turn might be. We may do our best to plan and often think that we’re in control of how our journey is progressing, but something always comes up. Life is full of unexpected changes. New opportunities, new people, new places, new challenges. I’m glad that my Heavenly Father is preparing me for the changes to take place after my mission.

I know that I’m here in Chinook for a reason. Chances are… I won’t find out what they are, at least any time soon. But I know that my Heavenly Father is guiding me. I trust in His wisdom to place me where I am needed. I trust in my Savior Jesus Christ to give me the needed strength. And I trust in the Holy Spirit to direct me to where I need to go, what I need to do, and what I need to say.

I’m reminded of the time in the Book of Mormon when Nephi entered the city of Jerusalem alone to get the brass plates from Laban. 1 Nephi 4:6 reads,

And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.

I know that our Heavenly Father has his hand in our lives. We may think we have everything planned out, but He has better things in store for us. I’m grateful for His loving guidance and wisdom in my life. Even though I don’t know all the things that I need to do, just like Nephi, I know that the Spirit will lead me to accomplish God’s plans for me.

Lehi’s Vision

The account in the Book of Mormon known as Lehi’s Vision or Lehi’s Dream is well-known among Latter-day Saints. In it, the prophet Lehi sees the tree of life and, with the help of an iron rod (which symbolizes the word of God) leading to the tree, approaches and eats of the fruit of the tree. When he looks around, he sees his family and beckons them to come and eat the fruit as well. All of them do except for his two oldest sons Laman and Lemuel.

If you are unfamiliar with this story, I encourage you to read the full account. Here’s a link for your convenience.

I’ll take a small section of the vision, which Lehi is giving to his children:

And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.

And as I cast my eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit.

And I looked to behold from whence it came; and I saw the head thereof a little way off; and at the head thereof I beheld your mother Sariah, and Sam, and Nephi; and they stood as if they knew not whither they should go.

And it came to pass that I beckoned unto them; and I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come unto me, and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit.

And it came to pass that they did come unto me and partake of the fruit also.

Lehi’s son, Nephi, was an exceptional young man that grew to become the second prophet in the Book of Mormon, after his father Lehi. He knew God, he knew Jesus Christ and the power of His atonement, and he knew and recognized the Holy Spirit. Something I’d like to note, however, is that in Lehi’s vision Nephi does not take the fruit himself. It was given to him by his father.

Just like our Heavenly Father is the source of all wisdom and truth, our earthly parents are a source of wisdom. We do not gain knowledge and experience in an instant. It must be taught to us. Parents have the sacred responsibility in raising their children in righteousness and truth, in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The very first verse in the Book of Mormon begins,

I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father;

Nephi was taught all he knew by his father and mother, and he makes sure the reader understands that fact right off the bat. I had, and still have, the great blessing of being raised by parents that taught me about Jesus Christ and His gospel. I know that the knowledge and understanding I have could not have come without their guidance, wisdom, and experience. I know that the role of a father and mother in a child’s life is a sacred commission from God.