I can't tell you how many times I have read The Book of Mormon, I lost count at 16, and that was years ago. I could probably read it a hundred-thousand times more and still get something different out of it every time.
Right now I'm in the back, in Mormon, and yet my heart is still in First Nephi. I keep circling back to those few chapters in my mind, because that story has so much more meaning for me now.
You see, for those who haven't read it, in First Nephi we read the account of Nephi, a young man whose father just happens to be called of God as a Prophet. His father, Lehi, is a contemporary of Jeremiah and warns the people of Jerusalem to repent or Babylon is going to sack them.
Of course no one listens, in fact there are those who wish to kill Lehi. The Lord does not allow this and tells Lehi to flee, taking only what he and his family will need to survive. The Lord promises them a choice land for their inheritance, and leads them across the desert, across the sea, and to the Americas.
It's a lovely tale, one that has a lot of meaning for someone who was just lead thousands of miles from the place she called home. I have gained a lot from reading it and drawing parallels from my life to Nephi's life. I feel a special bond with him, especially as on at least one line of my family tree we are related.
What has really stuck out to me lately, something that I really didn't think about before, is that Nephi obeyed, and the blessings were not all immediate. Neither was his life a bed of roses after he uprooted it and moved across the world for The Lord. No, indeed, things were pretty hard for him at times and seasons right up to his dying day.
I think back to when he was in the desert with his family. Here he was, doing what The Lord ordered, and yet he and his family suffered hunger, thirst, fatigue, blistering sun, and bitterly cold desert nights. There was equipment failure, short tempers, outright abuse. Yet he just kept trusting in The Lord.
As I travel in my own desert, feeling the heat, on the one hand I marvel at his patience and fortitude. On the other, I understand him all the more. I look at my trials, and hard and confusing as they are, they are so much better than what I escaped. I don't understand why I am being lead so far from my former life, but I trust the hand that is leading me. I keep encountering more and more problems on my journey, but... honestly at this point I don't know what else to do EXCEPT turn to The Lord.
He always provides. It hasn't been what I imagined (but let's face it I have an over-active imagination.) It hasn't been easy. However, it hasn't been terribly hard either. Really, it's like I hit my knees and God opens the way. I walk it and I'm fine.
It's humbling. Sometimes because I have to ask for and accept help when I've always been a do-it-myself-er. Other times it's humbling because I have to admit to people that I'm here because God brought me here, and all of this is out of my hands. The way it is most humbling though is that I am learning one agonizing moment at a time to be humble before The Lord. He knows so much better than I, He knows the path, He knew the end from the beginning, and me? I'm just the un-educated child He's trying to help. I know nothing, except that the failures are mine and the successes are His, and that I need Him if I am going to survive this desert.
I am so thankful for this desert. I'm thankful for the promise of inheritance on the other side of it, but today I'm just thankful that I'm going through all this, because I can feel Him with me, and this is the love I cannot, will not, live without.