One of my favorite scripture stories in The Book Of Mormon (a record of the people who inhabited ancient America starting at approximately 600 B.C.) is of a prophet named Nephi. Nephi and his family left Jerusalem due to persecution. After camping out in the wilderness for quite some time, The Lord told Nephi he needed to build a ship to get his family to “The Promised Land,” America, and that He would show him how. Now, I’m paraphrasing, but instead of saying “WHAT? I have no idea how to do that, never even seen one—this will take FOREVER (no power tools?), he basically said “O.K., where should I go to find ore to make the tools I need do this?” Nephi had amazing faith. He also had plenty of opposition. Several of his family members ridiculed him for thinking he could take on such an enormous task and many of them refused to help—but Nephi was undeterred. He reminded all the naysayers (in 1Nephi 17) about some other seemingly impossible things the Lord helped others accomplish. (1Nephi 17:26) “Now ye know that Moses was commanded of the Lord to do that great work; and ye know that by his word the waters of the Red Sea were divided hither and thither, and they passed through on dry ground.”
Then later in that chapter (after he gave them a few more examples) he says (in verse 51) “And now if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?” He then proceeded to follow God’s instruction (probably with a bit of trial and error and a significant amount of elbow grease), finished the ship, and sailed to America with his family (including the pessimists that gave him all that flack).
One of the reasons this story is inspiring to me is that I think most of us have been asked to build metaphorical ships of all sizes in our lives.
Right now I’m 15 years into building a ship called “family.” I still have all the scaffolding up and while it is starting to take shape I have a REALLY long way to go with lots of opposition (which can be hard to push past at times). Fortunately, I can learn a few things from Nephi. I know that if I don’t feel like I have the tools to do the job, God will help me get them if I ask. I know that there are people who are anti’s that will laugh at me and try to get me to use another blue print that is more “fun”, takes less time, and comes with a much more impressive plaque to put on my wall. Still, I can choose to have faith like Nephi and persevere with what
I know God asked me to do, knowing He will help me every step of the way. I can remember that for centuries God has asked ordinary people to do extraordinary things (including me and you). I can also (now this one is extra tricky) try to be kind to the mocker club members. (Amazing that Nephi let them come with him!)
I know we are not all asked to build the same ship, and a ship to one might be nothing but a paper boat to another, but we are all asked to build and build, and continue building what we know is right, even when many people around us don’t support us—-even If we’re tired, the going is really rough, and we want to quit. The truth of the entire matter is that we CAN do it. Not by ourselves—-but with The Lord’s help. We just have to keep turning to him, and keep doing what we know is right with faith like Nephi.