Thursday, November 3, 2016

Thankful Thursday: Trusting God when we can't see how His promises will be fulfilled

Sometimes I think "once I get past (fill in the blank), life will be so much easier". Sometimes it is, and other times life throws curveballs after new pathways after closed doors after detour signs after... well, you get the idea.

While driving home yesterday, I listened to a talk by one of my most favorite speakers,  Elaine S. Dalton. Though I've listened to this talk before, one part caught me by surprise. She mentioned that the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi thought of his future family even though at the time, he had no prospect for marriage. I could not remember reading that part of the story, and last night had a wonderful experience searching and finding for his story, and applying it to my own life.

As a recap, The Book of Mormon begins with Nephi recording his family history. Nephi's father, Lehi, was commanded by God to take his family and leave Jerusalem before the city was destroyed. Lehi took his wife and four sons, of whom Nephi was the youngest, and travelled for three days into the wilderness. Though the two oldest sons are rebellious and angry, Nephi wants to be obedient and prays to the Lord, who answers him by saying that as he keeps God's commandments, he would prosper, be led to a land of promise, and that Nephi's children would be protected (1 Nephi 2: 20 and 23).

At that time, Nephi was all alone with just his family, in the desert. There was no prospect of any young ladies who could be courted and married, especially since Nephi believed the visions his father related that Jerusalem would be destroyed. Nephi could have scoffed at the Lord's promise, but the following chapters illustrate that Nephi remembered and believed in the promise, and drew upon it for strength and courage, again and again, until it was actually fulfilled.

First, the Lord commanded Lehi to send his sons back to Jerusalem in order to obtain a scriptural record on brass plates kept by a powerful man named Laban. Laban threatened to kill Nephi's brother when asked for the plates, and his eldest brothers wanted to give up and go home without the plates. Nephi persuaded his brothers to continue trying to fulfill their mandate, using as one of his arguments that "it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records, that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers" (1 Nephi 3:19).

The following attempt again resulted in a failure to obtain the plates (said failure included Laban stealing their property and sending his servants to kill them), and Nephi's eldest brothers were infuriated, even beating Nephi until stopped by an angel. The angel commanded them to go back to Jerusalem, with the promise that Laban would be delivered into their hands.

This time, Nephi went by himself into Jerusalem, where he found Laban passed out from drinking, and was able to impersonate Laban in order to obtain the plates for his family. Nephi records that during this stressful and dangerous time, he drew strength from remembering that his children would need the plates in order to understand the scriptures and live the law of God (1 Nephi 4: 14-15).
Nephi and his brothers returned to their parents with the plates, and Nephi records that as they read and searched the scriptural record, they "found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children" (1 Nephi 5:21). Then Nephi records that as he writes his family's own history, he will "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 6:6).

It is only after Nephi consistently and diligently fulfilled the commandments of God, trusting,  remembering, and relying upon the promise he would one day have children of his own, that God commanded Lehi to send his son's back to Jerusalem to invite another family to join them in their journey, so that his sons would be able to "take daughters to wife, that they might raise up seed unto the Lord" (1 Nephi 7:1).

Finally, Nephi could see how the Lord intended to fulfill His promise. And the testimonies of Jesus Christ as recorded by Nephi's posterity are found throughout the Book of Mormon.

This is beautiful to me. In times of hard trial and uncertainty, Nephi remembered and took courage from the promises made to him by God, even though he had no idea how those promises would be fulfilled. I've seen this in my own life as well, and I know it is true. Even though I often have no idea what will happen, or when or how certain blessings will come about in my life, I can choose to trust that the Lord knows and loves me, and He is most certainly preparing a way for those blessings to be fulfilled.

16 But if ye keep the commandments of God... behold, no power of earth or hell can take them from you, for God is powerful to the fulfilling of all his words.

17 For he will fulfil all his promises which he shall make unto you, for he has fulfilled his promises which he has made unto our fathers. (Alma 37:16-17)

How have you seen blessings come about in your life, when before you couldn't see how they could ever possibly happen?

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