I wanted a different way to liken the scriptures to myself besides just substituting my name. So I visualized different parts of myself in each story. The basis for comparison stems from these scriptures.
Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth;
And the spirit and the body are the soul of man.
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child,submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
My recasting of characters goes thusly:
- Lehi = the Lord
- Nephi = my Spirit (For my metaphor, I’m unbothered by semantics that Nephi was actually born last instead of first)
- Sam = my Faith
- Laman = my Body/ego
- Lemuel = my Fear
- Laban = Opposition
- the plates of brass = Righteous goal
So Nephi and his brothers represent my full mortal experience and the struggle I face in that experience. Lehi, the Lord, commands that we, the brothers, fulfill a task. In this case, going to get the plates. He explains the necessity as well as the obstacle.
Spirit versus Natural Man
Nephi, my Spirit created by God and fused with the light of Christ, answers willingly. But notice that the other brothers have already been asked. My natural man with its doubts and fears heard the call and answered negatively.
This won’t work. How can we do that? The Lord doesn’t know what He’s asking. I can’t admit that I’m afraid, so I’ll make the task look ridiculous. What if I fail? Laban will kill me. All of my friends will know what I did and that I failed. It’s hot. We finally got here. Why do we have to go back now? What a waste of time.
Sometimes even faith wanes under ego’s onslaughts. All Nephi’s brothers murmured.
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.
How did Nephi turn the rebellion around? If my spirit is strong, my body complies in submission. If I’ve really decided to do something hard for me–like running in a snowstorm–my body fiercely contests until my spirit demands compliance. When my spirit is weak, instead of running in the snowstorm, my body enjoys a nice snooze in my warm, cozy bed.
Consulting One with Another
When we had gone up to the land of Jerusalem, I and my brethren did consult one with another.
I laughed when I hit this verse. I’m always consulting with myself. My spirit and body both have strong opinions, but ultimately on each choice, there can only be one master.
In their consultation, the Body/Ego drew the lot of approaching Laban first. Thinking about the story generally, I feel the Lord give Laman a chance to step up into the strong, leadership role his birthright presupposes. In this read of the story, I realized how often I think I can do things myself or should do things myself. I head for the goal in pride.
Ego failed. Not only did ego fail, it fled for its life. The next consultation consisted of Ego telling itself how impossible the task is. Fear renews lamentation. Faith, still timid, throws itself over to doubt. I mean, Ego knows, right?
And we began to be exceedingly sorrowful, and my brethren were about to return unto my father in the wilderness.
Spirit says, ‘Don’t go home. We can be faithful.’ Spirit renews the Lord’s reasons for the commandment and restores Faith. Ego and Fear comply.
They go together to collect all of their worldly treasures. Their approach still relies on the physical, the natural man. Ego couldn’t appeal to Opposition through Spirit (here’s God’s commandment, will you comply). This time Spirit appealed to Opposition through Ego (here’s our stuff, we’d like to buy the treasure to keep God’s commandment).
Opposition threatened life again and stole the stuff. Back to hiding. It’s tough, and dangerous, trying to stand out as a witness of God’s word.
Spirit Becoming Master
Reminds me of one of my favorite stories of souls who stood out despite the danger. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to bow to the king’s gigantic image. The king threatened to kill them by tossing them into a fiery furnace. Their spirit proved master with strong unyielding faith.
If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.
They knew Heavenly Father could deliver them from any opposition. But even if He didn’t, they would not yield in the face of danger. They valued God’s commands over their own lives.
So does my Nephi self. But unmastered fear and ego lose their grip and violently pummel spirit and faith. Nephi and Sam’s lives are spared by heavenly intervention.
I’ve had a pretty amazing heavenly intervention when Fear and Ego turn violent and start beating Spirit and Faith. Sometimes it’s been a friend’s visit or a message. Sometimes it’s been a scripture or conference talk. Sometimes it’s been a stranger’s comment or attitude. Sometimes it’s been an anonymous act of service or love. Sometimes it’s been a walk in nature. Sometimes it’s been a bolt of revelation. All of it is miraculous.
Heaven intervenes to save our spirits and our faith.
And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur.
After the impact of the intervention fades, if ego is still unchecked, it bounces right back to opposing and murmur mongering. I try to remember that ego really has my soul’s best interest at heart. Fear identifies everything that can possibly go wrong and ego’s goal is self-preservation.
The obvious challenge is that fear is based on imaginary futures and ego can’t see outside of itself.
When spirit stands as the master of the soul, the other brothers comply.
Now when I had spoken these words, they were yet wroth, and did still continue to murmur; nevertheless they did follow me up until we came without the walls of Jerusalem.
Being Led By the Spirit
My favorite verse in this story and my ultimate goal in life is
And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.
Led by Spirit not knowing. There is not consultation among the selves. There’s no figuring out what’s best strategically. There are no rational hoops to jump through. When complying with God’s commandment, being led by the Spirit is the best, most strategic, ultimately rational choice.
The Spirit leads directly to the opposition and slays it. The Spirit directs in personal and applicable ways how you comply with the commandment. My friend’s answer is not my answer. The end result may be the same, but the direction should come from above, not from the side.
Do I let the Spirit lead me? When it does, do I follow Spirit’s direction?
Keeping this commandment didn’t remove all obstacles from Nephi’s life. In fact, it may have exacerbated fissures in a brotherly relationship. But it exponentially strengthens his relationship with the Lord.
Soon after this, Nephi prays to see his father’s vision of the Tree of Life and does. He prays to the Lord to help him save his family from starvation and does. He is commanded to build a ship and does. He is commanded to lead the family to the promised land and does.
He is propelled and empowered by righteous action. He ultimately gains the true treasure.
Laman, on the other hand, only acts when compelled. He says God won’t reveal things to him so he doesn’t ask. He said God can’t show them how to build a ship, so he wouldn’t help (until compelled). He said Nephi was treacherous, usurped power, and stole their cool things, so he wanted to kill him.
He is empowered by blame and self-preservation. In fear and jealousy, he ultimately loses the treasure.
inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am—not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual.
The choice is mine. Do I empower my spirit or my ego? Even though at my stage of progress I may actually vacillate between the two based on the importance of current decisions, I ultimately must conclusively choose. I cannot serve two masters.
For thus saith the scripture: Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve.
The more conclusively I choose, the more conclusively I progress.
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.