I see Nephi carefully approaching Jerusalem’s city gate, cautiously entering and looking around to gauge his surroundings before walking the dark streets towards Laban’s house.
The angel had just commanded him and his brothers to return again to get the plates, promising victory. “Behold ye shall go up to Jerusalem again, and the Lord will deliver Laban into your hands.” Laman and Lemuel immediately questioned. “How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?”
Nephi reminded them of God’s mighty miracles. The brothers grumpily followed him back to the city. Jerusalem is on a mountain surrounded by valleys. There’s plenty of places the brothers could hide in the caves or crevices of the valleys.
Did this fulfill the angel’s commandment? He said go up and the Lord will deliver Laban. The brothers being full of murmuring and lack of faith must have concerned Nephi.
Faith and Obedience
Initially, the lot fell to Laman, chosen by the Lord to get the plates. But he had failed. They’d gone as a group, partially full of faith, and failed.
I think of Achan who grabbed some bounties of war when the children of Israel were specifically told to not touch anything because it all belonged to the Lord. He grabbed some clothes and money and hid it under his tent.
Joshua sent a small part of the army against Ai, because of their previously massive success with the help of the Lord. However, Ai slaughtered Israel’s army. Devastated, Joshua angrily approached God and asked why God didn’t fight with them. God said the people had sinned.
Everyone stood before Joshua. After some determining factors, only Achan remained. Joshua demanded to know what he’d done. He confessed. The stuff was found. Achan, and everyone in his family, died cataclysmically.
So Nephi hid his brothers out of sight, out of danger. They lacked the faith and courage to rely fully on the Lord. Their attitude and blindness hindered the mission.
So they hid in their safe place. Did the Spirit keep prompting them to courage and obedience? Did they silence His voice to justify their actions? They hid—away from potential physical danger, away from the Spirit’s guidance, away from the miracles about to happen.
Nephi “crept into the city and went forth towards the house of Laban. And [he] was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do.”
Soon, Nephi hit his own wall when the Spirit told him to kill Laban. The task revolted Nephi. “And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.” He shrunk. He didn’t want to do it. For a moment he took a step into his own hiding place. But he continued listening to the Spirit’s voice.
He acknowledged what the Lord told him previously about the critical nature of having the plates. Nephi knew this moment was a moment of deliverance—for himself and all of his descendants.
He stepped back out into the moment. “Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword.”
Be Strong and Of A Good Courage
Jehovah commanded Joshua to step up as prophet after Moses promising that as He was with Moses, He would be with Joshua. Then He told Joshua to “be strong and of a good courage” for he’d divide the people’s inheritance. “Only be thou strong and very courageous” to keep the law night and day. “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Then Joshua reminded the people of the Lord’s commandments and promises. And the people promised that “whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go.”
Am I Hiding?
My sister and I recently traversed one of the most difficult hikes I’ve ever tried. It ended up taking me nine hours and tested every part of my emotional and physical strength. After one point of losing footing in the ubiquitous and horrible mud, sliding down the side of the mountain a ways, and fighting my way back up to reach the path again, I emotionally gave up.
I mourned the journey. I knew I’d have to somehow get back to the car and I didn’t know how I could physically do it. I literally stopped looking around and focused on one foot in front of the other, one step then the next step, over and over for hours.
I encountered a lot of people who experienced the same path totally differently than I did. One man felt it was his Shangri La of hikes. I’ve never seen such joy on a hike. He’d found Nirvana. But, for me in that moment, it was more like Dante’s Inferno.
I replayed my friend Anna’s comment when I asked about the hike.“Yes, I think you can do it. Just take your time.” I appreciated her confidence and encouragement.
And I heard the calming, reassuring voice of my friend Tasha, who is a yogi, in my head “Find comfort in the discomfort. Let go of your limitations. Feel your muscles lengthen and strengthen. You can do it.”
I stopped comparing myself to others. Giving up was not an option. No person on that trail could save me.
So, I dug deep into my soul and took step after step through miles of mud on the side of a cliff. I climbed up and down rock after rock and up and down rope after rope. I slipped a lot. I fell. I bled. I ached. I cried. Later when I took my socks and shoes off, I saw that toe nail polish had actually been stripped off of four toes!
But the point is that there was a later. And there also was a then. And I made it from then to later. And to be honest, making it was my most valuable takeaway from the experience.
I discovered I had the ability to push past every hiding place, every safe spot I’ve used for 45 years. For me, on that mountain, there wasn’t any place for me to hide—from God or from myself. I saw my deepest fear. It had nothing to do with the mountain or mud or waterfalls or rivers or boulders or inclines or declines. I felt it. I lived it. And then I drove home.
Are You Hiding?
Are you hiding in a “safe” place? Why?
Laman, Lemuel, and Sam hid away from the danger. But how safe was it eternally? Achan decided to hide his rebellion in a safe place. But the Lord disclosed its location.
Does anything keep you from fully participating in obeying the Lord? What is it and why is it holding you back?
Maybe it’s not at all related to Laman, Lemuel, or Aachan’s motivations.
One of my favorite, life altering quotes is by Marianne Williamson.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
The Savior offers the ultimate permission for us to liberate ourselves from fear and remember who we really are—the children of an Omnipotent, Omniscient Creator, the God of our Universe, our Heavenly Father.
We Can Stand With Faith In God
Nephi left his brothers hiding outside of Jerusalem, but he went forth in the Spirit of the Lord. Joshua faced giants, armies, and rebellion, but he went forth knowing the Lord God was with him. In both instances, they remembered not only what the Lord promised them, but what He’d already done for others.
Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary?…He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
We can rise up and do everything He asks of us. He is with us. He guides our pathway. He gives us courage. He increases our strength for the battle is His. He is the everlasting God and He is not hiding.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.