I spent a fair amount of time pondering why Nephi needed to tell us that his "father dwelt in a tent." I thought about stakes of Zion and tent posts and enlarging borders. Then I remembered that the ancient tabernacle was a tent--a portable temple. The modern saints ordered a huge canvas for a similar structure...which canvas was ultimately used to cover their wagons when they migrated west, making each pioneer wagon a tabernacle of sorts. I concluded that Lehi's tent must have been a very sacred space.
Beginning in vs. 16, Nephi tells us of his "great desires to know of the mysteries of God" -- obviously influenced by Lehi's experiences, and time Nephi spent in his father's tent, being instructed. The process he outlines next is very instructive, particularly for teenagers and their parents:
He "cries unto the Lord": (To call importunately; to utter a loud voice, by way of earnest request of prayer.)
Then the Lord "visits" him: (To visit in mercy, in Scriptural language, to be propitious; to grant requests; to deliver from trouble; to support and comfort.)
His heart is "softened": (made less fierce or intractable; made more susceptible of humane or fine feelings; as, to soften a hard heart; to soften savage natures. The heart is softened by pity. Diffidence concilliates the proud, and softens the severe. Made calm and placid. Made less harsh, less rude, less offensive or violent. Made tender; Made less harsh or grating;
Become more pliable and yielding to pressure; Become less rude, harsh or cruel; as, savage natures soften by civilization. Become less obstinate or obdurate; to become more susceptible of humane feelings and tenderness; to relent. Become more mild; Become less harsh, severe or rigorous.)
He did believe (To expect or hope with confidence; to trust.) all his father's words.
Wherefore, he "did not rebel against him like unto my brothers." By turning to the Lord for greater understanding, Nephi was able to sidestep the stumbling block of rebellion.
Next, he shared what he learned through the spirit with his brother Sam, and Sam believed.
Nephi then has an amazing Enos-like experience where he grieves for the hard-heartedness of his older brothers, and cries unto the Lord for them.
The resultant and attendant blessings of his faith, diligence (earnest love), obedience and humility are prosperity, power, authority, the ability to teach, and a promise that his offspring will not be overpowered unless they rebel.
As we head off to Sun Valley to celebrate my parents' 50th anniversary, there is suddenly much opposition within my immediate family and I find myself deeply in need of a softened heart, in every sense listed above.
I am determined to apply Nephi's process today:
- Desire to know and understand
- Cry — Prayers of earnest request
- Allow the Lord to visit me with mercy, support and comfort
- Allow the Lord to soften my heart, become more tender, humane, pliable.
- Believe, trust, expect good things to happen
- Not rebel
- Share what I'm learning; bear testimony
- Grieve and Pray for those whose hearts are still hardened