What Great Things does the Lord Have in Mind for You?
1 Nephi 16:21 - 1 Nephi 18:7
Recently I walked into Sharing Time and noticed there was a visitor in my five-year-old Primary class. I sat down, and he immediately changed seats so he could sit right next to me. As the opening song began he introduced himself and then he said, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
I haven’t been asked that question in years, and I couldn’t help but smile. “Maybe a writer,” I said, “What do you want to be?”
“I don’t know,” he replied with a twinkle in his eye, “Maybe a doctor; maybe a Walmarter.”
I couldn’t help but picture him as a Walmarter.
“Maybe you could be a teacher, like your dad.” I suggested.
“No,” came his quick reply, “You have to get a shot to be a teacher.”
He thought for a moment and then asked, “Do you have to get a shot to be a dad?”
“No,” I answered.
“OK,” he replied, “then I think I will just be a dad.”
One thing I love about 5-year-olds is that the whole world is open to them. They believe they are good at everything and that they can become anything they want to be. We were all like that many years ago. When our Kindergarten teacher asked who could paint, we all raised our hands. Who could dance? Again, every hand. Who is good at soccer? Unanimous.
Then we grew up. We put boundaries and definitions upon our dreams. Reality set in. We said to ourselves, I can’t be a doctor; I don’t have a degree. I can’t fly the airplane; I am not a pilot. I can’t paint; I don’t have any talent. Sometimes I wish we could be in kindergarten again, to have that kind of faith in ourselves.
Nephi had faith like that.
In chapter 17 of first Nephi the Lord spoke to Nephi and said, “Arise, and get thee into the mountain.” (1 Nephi 17:7) Nephi didn’t ask any questions ––he just went. When he got to the mountain the Lord said, “Thou shalt construct a ship.”
Was Nephi a ship builder?
I searched through the first 17 chapters of the Book of Mormon and couldn’t find any record of that information. No schooling. No previous experience in shipbuilding. But for some reason, the Lord thought he was.
I love the lesson we learn from Nephi’s answer to the Lord. He didn’t say, “I can’t build a ship, I don’t have a degree in shipbuilding.” Instead his answer was, “Wither shall I go that I might make tools?”
This answer is even more incomprehensible to me.
Not only was Nephi not a shipbuilder ––he didn’t even own the tools for the trade. Before Nephi could begin building the ship he had to make the tools.
Just like Nephi, sometimes the greatest building experiences of our life will require having faith and being willing to go to work, even if we have to begin by constructing the tools.
As Nephi got to work building the tools his brothers began to murmur saying, “Our brother is a fool. We knew you were lacking in judgment. You cannot accomplish so great a work.” (1 Nephi 17, emphasis added.)
But Nephi didn’t give up; instead he remembered Moses and said to his brothers, “Ye know that Moses was commanded to do that great work…” (1 Nephi 17:26, emphasis added.) Then he spoke to them of the parting of the Red Sea, the manna in the wilderness, the water in the rock, and finally the Promised Land. Finally he told them, “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?” (1 Nephi 17:51, emphasis added.)
Nephi wasn’t afraid of the task at hand, because he believed in a God who was capable of helping his servants accomplish great things. In chapter 18 verse three we read, “And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.” (emphasis added)
What great things does the Lord have in mind for you? What tools could you use to help you achieve those great things?
Think for a minute of the tools Nephi used to build the ship. Obviously he used tools from the ore which he did molten out of rock. But there were other tools. I think of his trips to the mountain, and am reminded of the temple. I consider his memories of Moses, and am reminded of the scriptures. I know that he spoke consistently to the Lord, and I am reminded of prayer. You might not think of these as tools, but could they be? A favorite quote reminds me, “Unlikely adventures require unlikely tools.” (Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium)
The Lord sent Nephi on an unlikely adventure. Through the use of what some might call unlikely tools the Lord was able to help Nephi recognize His ability to accomplish great things during that adventure.
One more lesson we learn from Nephi, the builder, is the importance of an instructor. Nephi couldn’t teach himself to build the boat. He needed to go somewhere for instruction. If we really want to obtain instruction from the Lord we must go to the places where He is ––the temple, scriptures, and prayer.
I have come to believe that what Nephi said is true, “If the Lord has such great power, how can he not instruct me?”
The Lord can instruct us in personal and individual ways if we let Him. Through temple visits, prayer and scripture study this instruction becomes clear.
Today, consider what your great work might be.
Where could you go to obtain instruction? What tools will you use in your building process? What are some steps you might take as you being your great work?