Seek This Jesus
Ether 1:38 - Ether 4:16
One of the lessons I find most powerful from the entire Book of Mormon is contained in the Book of Ether.
It contains several learning experiences that can be life changing if we let them. I am including several of them in this blog…please forgive the length.
The lesson begins with the building of a barge.
I don’t think many of us will ever forget that each barge was built tight, like unto a dish. That phrase is repeated over and over again.
Might the pattern teach us something about preparing for our own storms in life? I wonder, what would I need to do now to make my testimony tight like unto a dish…where nothing damaging could seep through or filter in? Is there a process? Something I could be doing daily?
The barges were built according to the instruction of the Lord. Because the brother of Jared was obedient at each step, he was able to receive the next level of knowledge.
Is not the same true of us?
After the barges were finished, the brother of Jared reached a moment of indecision, questioning the next step.
Knowing that he and his people would be spending a large amount of time traveling inside the barges, he worried about three very significant problems: how would they breath, what would they do about light, and how would they steer?
"And behold, O Lord, in them there is not light; whither shall we steer? And also we shall perish, for in them we cannot breathe..." (Ether 2:19)
Consider these three problems…
One is an inconvenience, one is a life threatening situation, and one is a question of direction.
The brother of Jared took these problems to the Lord. A lesson can be learned from the way the Lord answered each question.
The Lord did not want this group of people to perish. In answer to the humble pleading of a faithful servant to a question of immediate need the Lord answered directly.
He gave a solution to the request for air, suggesting that the brother of Jared should make a hole in the top and bottom of each barge. When the people needed air they were to unstop the hole and receive air, and when water began to come into the barge they were to stop up the hole again. A simple solution, and the brother of Jared did as the Lord commanded.
Then he cried unto the Lord again.
Worried that there was no light in the barges, he wondered if they were to cross the sea in darkness. The reply came quickly for this inconvenience, just as it had with the first question, but the answer was entirely different. The Lord asked the brother of Jared, “What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?” (Ether 2:23-25)
The brother of Jared did not sit and wait for a solution. He immediately went to work.
He climbed up a mountain, and not just any mountain…a mountain of exceeding height, to find the stones. And he didn’t take just any old stones, but rather he did “molten out of a rock sixteen small stones; and they were white and clear, even as transparent glass.” (Ether 3:1)
He did all the work he could do on his own, and then he cried unto the Lord.
The scriptures teach us, “Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” (Ether 12:6) The brother of Jared faced a trial of faith, and his witness was twofold.
The blessing came, the stones were touched and they received light.
But more important than that is what happened in the process.
As the Lord touched the stones, the mortal man saw the finger of the Lord. And the Lord said unto him, “Never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast.” (Ether 3:9) Because of that exceeding faith, the Lord showed Himself to the brother of Jared…and he had “faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting.” (Ether 3:19)
He had received a witness; he had come to know the Lord.
In Ether 6:3 we read, “And thus the Lord caused stones to shine in darkness, to give light unto men, women, and children that they might not cross the great waters in darkness.”
The Lord has promised each of us that He will not leave us to suffer in darkness or despair, He will send light to every one of us. He will prepare us to make it through whatever trial we are currently facing.
The last question remained unanswered from the Lord...at least as far as I can discern. There was no answer communicated to the Brother of Jared as to how they would steer the barges.
So, after the Jaredites had prepared everything they needed for the voyage they got aboard the barges and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God.
I am amazed at the faith of the Jaredites.
How many of us would climb into a barge that we could not steer or direct in any way, to go to a destination we knew nothing about, and be willing to travel without even knowing how long the journey would take? And then, not only did they commend themselves to the Lord, the journey was not a calm one.
Instead, furious winds blew them toward the Promised Land.
"And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the Promised Land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind.” (Ether 6:4-5 emphasis added)
I love that even though the wind did never cease to blow, and the people were constantly driven without being able to steer or control their destination, they sang praises unto the Lord. In the very midst of their adversity, they “did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord. “ (Ether 6:9)
This last lesson in the account is my favorite. The Lord gave the brother of Jared some important counsel…
“Behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come.”
Do you find it interesting that he was told the people could not cross through the trial they were about to encounter unless the Lord prepared the way?
The Lord had to steer.
Often we don’t realize that the trial is what enables us to reach the destination the Lord has in mind for us.
He will not let it destroy us, but He will let it moves us in the direction we need to go.
Until we reach the Promised Land He has in mind for us.
I have learned that after the greatest trial comes the greatest gratitude.
Gratitude for the One who prepares the way.
If you are in the midst of a great trail, “seek this Jesus.” (ether 12:41)
The One who encourages us to build, to perform great works, to prove ourselves worthy and obedient. Who offers solutions, who encourages us to search for ourselves and find the answers we long for.
Seek this Jesus, who will not let you cross the water in darkness, who will prepare the way before you, who knows what you have been through, who knows what is still to come.
The One who allows the trial because He knows the blessings that will follow.
The One who will show you the greater things, who will bring the unspeakable gifts.
The One who leads us to the promise.
“Seek this Jesus.”