Now the ship building begins. Nephi says they “did work timbers of curious workmanship. And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers of the ship.” (1)
Nephi was doing something he’d never done before and needed direction. But God didn’t just hand him a set of ship plans. He wanted Nephi to seek revelation, but even though Nephi was probably always praying and seeking, the Lord only showed him things from “time to time.”
We might pray and not seem to hear from God, but He is there. And He is very aware. Sometimes it is in the seeking and having to figure out some parts for ourselves that God teaches us lessons we don’t truly understand until later, in retrospection.
Nephi had to “go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.”1 Nephi 18:3
Do I pray often unto the Lord, seeking counsel, comfort, direction?
When I don’t seem to get an answer, do I study things out in my mind and make the best choice I can until God steps in from time to time to help when I cannot do it on my own?
What are we building?
Nephi’s ship building experience can be likened to our lives. He didn’t build the ship after the manner of men, but in a curious new way God revealed to him.
What kind of ship, or life, will we build?
Will we construct our beliefs and worldview after the manner of men? Or will we seek architectural plans from above and build our lives in a peculiar, better way that God shows us through prophets and scripture?
Nephi went to the “mount oft” to pray and seek direction. Mountains are symbolic of holy places God can speak to His people.
Where are your sacred places to commune with God?
Closets are often mentioned in scripture, a place we can go to in order to be alone with our thoughts and our Maker. I always feel uplifted in quiet outdoor spaces—mountains, meadows, valleys. God is merciful and has directed temples to be built all around the earth for His people to come to be lifted into His presence.
If you don’t know about temples, read more about them HERE. When a new temple is finished, it is opened to the public for a time to tour before it is dedicated to the Lord. After a temple is dedicated, anyone with a temple recommend can visit. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wants everyone to be able to come to God’s temples and make sacred covenants with Him, but one must qualify to enter by meeting certain standards and making certain covenants with God.
Nephi went often up into the mount. Do I regularly spend time with God in sacred, holy places? Nephi was shown great things because he made time for God in his life. God was able to instruct him how to build a ship and his life.
Do I partner with the Master Architect to help design and build my life?
Supplies for the journey
The ship gets finished. Lehi’s family had prepared, gathering food of all kinds to nourish them along the journey.
After we had prepared all things, much fruits and meat from the wilderness, and honey in abundance, and provisions according to that which the Lord had commanded us, we did go down into the ship…”1 Nephi 18:6
What have I gathered to support my family through the storms of life? Words of the prophet, testimony, faith, patience, trust in God, love, humility, good traditions (like not murmuring against God or His prophets).
Do I seek God’s insights in what I need to prepare for my family’s journey in life?
Winds in life
The trip commences and they “were driven forth before the wind towards the promised land.” (8)
What winds push me and my family toward the promises of the Lord?
One super good wind in my life is General Conference twice a year. It’s a strong wind of righteousness that blows me in the direction God wants me to move toward. Heeding the words of living prophets is the best wind to have behind you.
Laman and Lemuel and some of the others became bored on their watery journey. They begin to make merry and dance, sing, speak rudely, and forget by what power they were brought thus far. “They were lifted up unto exceeding rudeness.” (9)
Rudeness is a sign that we have left God’s path.
God never condones rudeness in any form (thought, speech, action). If we find ourselves ever being rude (even in our thoughts) we need to repent and humble ourselves before God. Ask His forgiveness so we can get our hearts right again.
The Holy Ghost cannot spend time with anyone who is rude.
Life is a dangerous ocean. We need God’s blessings to not be tossed about by destructive winds and swallowed up in perilous depths. So don’t be rude. Ever! Even if you’re writing an anonymous comment on social media, don’t give into the temptation to be snarky, negative, and hurtful. Rudeness reveals the inner core. Don’t be a shiny apple on the outside, but full of rot and worms of rudeness on the inside.
Nephi speaks to them, trying to get them to humble themselves before God, but this makes the rowdy, rude group angry and they tie him up so he can’t move.
In an earlier chapter, Nephi is given power to break his bonds. This time though, God allows him to suffer.
Bad things happen—WILL happen—to us. Sometimes God gives us power to escape. Other times, He allows us to suffer because of others’ actions. But He will always bless us. Even if we must suffer, He is with us. He already suffered for us in Gethsemane. He is the only one who perfectly understands our suffering, because it is His.
Immediately after Nephi is tied up, “the compass which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work.” (12)
Sin tampers with our inner moral compass. When we willingly choose to rebel against God, we cut off our source of light and direction. The Holy Ghost cannot be with someone who is not humble, repentant, and faithful.
We all will sin but don’t be like the hard-hearted brothers who ignore the signs that the Spirit has left them. When we notice the darkness in the world and the treacherous waves of temptation (maybe because we’re drowning in them), call out to God for help. Like Peter, when he walked on water, but then looked at the waves and began to sink. God is always near. He cares. And He will always hold out a saving hand if we turn to Him (even if we’ve purposely left him). God never holds grudges.
When Laman releases Nephi, fearing perishing in the storm, Nephi’s wrists and ankles are sore and swollen after four days out in the elements.
Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.”1 Nephi 18:16
I love his attitude. It wasn’t God who hurt him. It was his brothers. When he is released, he doesn’t complain. He looks to God and praises Him.
Do I praise God for all my blessings, or do I murmur about my afflictions?
At times, I’ve felt swallowed up by troubles and wondered if I would sink and perish in the waves of life. But looking back, I’m grateful for what God taught me through those trials, things I couldn’t have learned if I’d been content and hadn’t been stretched.
A Great Calm
As soon as Nephi takes the Liahona, “it did work whither I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm.” (21)
Christ can calm angry seas. He also can calm troubled hearts.
I’m convinced that though Nephi was in terrifying circumstances—being tied up on top of a ship in a stormy sea—he experienced inner calm because the Spirit of God was with him.
In contrast, I picture Laman and Lemuel and their crowd being utterly terrified, thinking at any moment they might be swept over into the monster waves.
Am I repentant so I can experience inner calm during perilous storms?
Plant where you stand
They reach the promised land and “put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem.” (24)
They immediately set out to improve their new home. Righteous people plant ALL the seeds they have to build and nourish their sphere of influence.
God has given all of us talents, skills, and blessings in abundance. If we hoard these, they will wither and die. Seeds must be planted to grow. They don’t do anyone any good if they’re kept in a basket.
Do I use ALL that God has given me to bless others?
Am I using all the raw materials God has given me to build a good life and make the world a better place?
***Remember, it is through small and simple things that God brings great things to pass.