As a BYU student and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon church), I get to take an entire university-level class about the Book of Mormon. The other day, my professor went over a few chapters from the first section, called the First Book of Nephi (1 Nephi for short), and what he taught from them really impacted me.
He started with the experience that Nephi, the ancient prophet, had when God told him to build a ship. To give a little background, he and his family lived in Jerusalem around 600 BC and were warned by God to leave the city before Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians conquered it. Nephi’s family traveled in the desert for eight years before reaching a coastal region that they named Bountiful. It was here that Nephi was commanded to build the ship to carry his family to the Americas, known to them as the Promised Land. Nephi had never built a ship before and had absolutely no idea how. However, his faith-filled response to the Lord was powerful. This is what my professor used to introduce his point.Instead of complaining to God that he couldn’t do it or that it was too hard, Nephi’s first response was to ask where he could find ore. He knew his family lacked the tools necessary to construct an ocean-worthy vessel, and he knew that if he could find ore, he could make the tools to accomplish the task. This might seem like a small thing. However, if you think about it in modern terms, it would be like God commanding me, a college kid with no construction experience, to rebuild the World Trade Center and my first response being, “Ok Lord, where should I go to get a power drill and some screws?” Nephi knew God wouldn’t tell him to do anything without helping him do it, so once he was given a task, he immediately started working on it.
My professor’s point was that there is a three-part cycle of faith that is exemplified by Nephi’s experience with building the ship. In his situation, Nephi trusted that the Lord could help him, tried his best to do what he was asked, and eventually completed the ship. There is a pattern here that we each can follow. First, we must have faith that God knows what He’s doing and can help us do what He asks of us. This leads us to trust Him enough to act, to try our very best to do it. As we keep expending our best efforts, we eventually see the fruits of our labors and accomplish the task with His help. We are rewarded with a personal example of the Lord’s help in our lives. This assurance increases our faith that the Lord will help us in the future, and so the cycle continues.
I have seen this pattern many times in my own life. One ongoing example is my efforts to get an education. In recent years, God, through His prophets, has advised His children to obtain all the education they can so they can better support their families and be good citizens. Thus, I am studying here at BYU and hope to get into medical school someday. As a new freshman in my first semester, I often feel overwhelmed and, on occasion, I get discouraged. However, I can fall back on my faith in God. I know that He has commanded me to get a meaningful education and has helped me in my studies countless times already. This knowledge helps me to keep putting forth my best efforts, which always pays off. I have been able to excel all throughout high school and I know that, with my total effort and God’s help, I can do the same in college. I also know that this pattern can work for anyone that puts his or her trust in the Lord and is willing to try. God is ready and willing to help! This article was written by Matt K., a student at Brigham Young University, and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.