"Because thou hast been faithful and declared unto this people the things which I commanded thee, behold, they seek to take away thy life."Verse 3 then shows Lehi's obedience: "he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded." I admire Lehi's courage to be completely obedient in the face of such resistance. I am not obedient by nature. I am such a free spirit that my first impulse is often to question, to rebel, to find a better or easier way. However, I can identify strongly with verses two and three when I realize that he was obedient after he was warned in a dream, because so was I.
Following is an excerpt of a talk I wrote about our experience as it relates to Lehi's:
Eight and a half years ago I had a series of dreams....
I’d been sufficiently humbled by some recent harrowing experiences and therefore was in a more receptive frame of mind than usual. :) Rich symbols and content made these dreams stand out as spiritually significant, and I recognized them as a form of personal revelation.
One spoke of the influence of extended family on our children, and another spoke of a new home, away from California; of an amazing gift that I could never repay. In my earliest waking hours, as I pondered the dreams, their message became clear: The Lord intended us to move to Utah.
At first I felt a reluctance to leave my comfort zone: My immediate reaction was a flow of tears, and a silent protest: “No, Please No!”
School, missions and marriage had brought both of us to southern California, over and over again. We honestly felt that was where the Lord wanted and needed us to serve. At church we held meaningful callings, had opportunities to contribute to the Kingdom there, and our ward was filled with amazing role models who loved us as much as we loved them. Our friends there had become our surrogate family. Most of all, just months ago we’d buried our baby there.
However, I remembered the goodness of God (particularly in my recent trials) and I could not say no. In a matter of moments I succumbed, knelt down and tearfully promised the Lord, “I’ll go where you want me to go.” Then for three full years I waited, more or less “pondering these things in my heart” (Luke 2:19), and at times wondering if perhaps we wouldn’t have to move after all.
When the time was right, we both knew. After all, we’d had three years to get used to the idea! I knew Jeff would get the job at BYU, knew our house would sell, knew it was time to go.
There were many steps involved in our final move, including job applications, buying and selling of houses, and painful goodbyes. Each required Faith, Trust, Courage, and Commitment to leave everything we know and love and journey into the relative unknown wilderness of Utah.
Most of the resultant blessings are easily recognized:
Here we are. (Maybe the promised land).
The children are in better schools, our house was fully paid for, beautiful mountains surround us, with deer and quail in the back yard, Jeff’s work has been even better than we expected, and unforeseen additional career opportunities have arisen. We have more time for me to spend with our children. (We've had our needs met, and more, to the point that we’re in awe of the unexpected blessings!)
We don’t know what else the Lord has in store for us here, but we know this is where we’re supposed to be right now.
(That paragraph is particularly interesting in light of all the recent developments with Josh. A blessing I didn't realize at the time was that being here and having our house paid off was what enabled us to help him when his problems arose.)
The Book of Mormon also begins with the story of one family, instructed in a dream to leave their dream house and their comfort zone, and be led by God through a series of unknowns.
There were varying levels of Faith, Trust, Courage, Commitment:
- Lehi went willingly, and obediently. (1 Nephi 2:2-4)
- Nephi sought confirmation and also followed willingly. (1 Nephi 11)
- Laman and Lemuel whined the entire time. Went, but with lousy attitude, constantly threatening to return to Jerusalem. (Notice no one complained when they were instructed to obtain wives, however.) :)
But that's not all. Last night I had another dream. A frightening one.
I dreamed that we were all just hanging around the house playing games, fixing dinner, etc.
Suddenly I looked out the window and saw swarms of people from the neighborhood above us leaving their homes and coming through our yard. I looked to the North and East and noticed that the ridge and the hill above our house were completely on fire. All these people had gathered their families and their belongings and evacuated their homes to safety. And somehow we hadn't heard, had no idea we were in danger. I remember frantically calling to the children to grab shoes, clothing, whatever they needed, and get ready to leave. Then I went into our bedroom and my head was spinning because I didn't know what I needed, had no idea what could possibly be important enough to take with us on a moment's notice. At the last second I was groping around on the closet floor trying to figure out which shoes to take and not able to find a mate to one of my hiking shoes. I looked at this giant television screen and saw on the news our hill, engulfed in flames. Then I realized the roar of the fire was overhead -- our roof was on fire. Our family was in immediate, life-threatening danger...and I couldn't even find a pair of shoes.
When I woke up, I pondered again verse 4: Lehi left his house, his inheritance, his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness. All we really need are our family, food, clothing and shelter. I have a renewed commitment to making sure the essentials can be readily collected at any time. And being willing to leave behind anything and everything else.