An LDS (“Mormon”) Reflection by Stacy N. on The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ
The other day I read the story in the Book of Mormon about the Lord commanding Nephi to build a boat. I sang the song in my head as I read the chapter then smiled and closed the book.
The next day when I opened my scriptures to continue reading, I heard a conversation in my head.
“Nephi, I want you to build a boat.”
I wasn’t there, but I assume Nephi’s answer was something like, “You want me to what? Build a boat. A boat? Lord, I don’t know how to build a boat.”
“I know that, Nephi. Go and build a boat.”
“I don’t know how.”
“I will teach you. Now, go and build a boat.”
There could have been a little less back and forth in the real conversation, but the important part is Nephi saying, “I don’t know how… but I will.”
I’ve heard and read the story a million times. I just don’t know why I never made the connection until now. Lacking the technical skills and the know how, Nephi pushed away his worries, concerns and fears, and committed to building a boat.
I immediately thought of all the things I’m asked to do in my life that I feel so completely inadequate.
Bringing up good, righteous children, my calling, dealing with daily challenges or life-long trials. Heavenly Father has asked me to do it all, and sometimes…most of the time, I don’t know how. I finally figured out that I need to finish the sentence: “I don’t know how, but I will.”
We all know it’s not that simple.
Nephi himself said he “did go into the mount oft, and (he) did pray oft unto the Lord” (1 Ne. 18:3). To me, that means that God didn’t just hand him blueprints and say, “Go for it.” It was a long, step-by-step process where I’m sure Nephi thought once or twice, “I’m not quite sure where he’s going with this, but OK.”
Especially since he did not “build the ship after the manner of men; but (he) did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto (him)” (1 Ne. 18:2).
How many times have I thought this about raising a family in this day and age not after the manner of men? Or trials I don’t know how to get through on my own? My point here is that God asks all of us to build a boat. Even multiple boats at times. And when he asks us, we need to be ready with the reply, “I don’t know how, but I will.”
That is the first step. After that, he will teach us.
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I’ve always loved that story in the Book of Mormon. I’ve consider too, that my own life is likened unto the building of that ship. If we will place our trust in the Lord and follow His Spirit, He will construct our lives according to His Plan and enable us to sail upon the challenges of life, to our own eventual Promise Land! It is a wonderful analogy for life.
Great post, although I did want to point out something you may not have known: the area where Lehi’s party camped in the Old World—the original Bountiful—was quite near a known shipbuilding community. It has been theorized (and yes, I know it’s just a theory) that Nephi actually did have some experience in shipbuilding, gained during his years of apprenticeship while living in Bountiful.
After all, how could Nephi have known that “he did not ‘build the ship after the manner of men’,” unless he already knew by what manner men built ships?
Jeff, that’s interesting. I’ve never heard that theory. Personally, I think if Nephi knew how to build a ship, his brothers wouldn’t have thought he was a fool for thinking he could build a ship. But even if he did know how to build it in the manner of men, the Lord told him to do it differently. A way he did not know how.
I love your analogy. I have come to realize as you have that when the Lord does bless us with personal revelation it does not come all at once. Just as you said, “step by step”. He does the same with us and blesses us with personal revelation incrementally. Line upon line. As we need it. Your point is so well taken, I don’t know how, but I will…….faith and obedience.
I love this! I don’t know which I love more – that you saw a unique perspective or that you were pondering and ready to receive needed inspiration! I keep thinking of Nephi making repeated mistakes as the Lord taught him to make the tools he needed and sometimes even having to start all over!