Thursday, May 26, 2011

"And my father dwelt in a tent."

The other day Brent and I sat down with our children to have a family home evening.  Brent grabbed the scriptures and began turning the pages to find a particular scripture.  He said to our children, "Do you know what one of my favorite scriptures is?"  He paused, then finding the verse, he read from the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 2:15, "And my father dwelt in a tent."

I had heard him say this was one of his favorites before, and in my head, I thought, "why would this scripture be one of his favorites?"  I thought it must be because it's so short, something he could easily read to the kids in a couple of seconds and count as "reading a scripture", or that maybe Brent would characteristically have something funny to say to the kids about it.

He then proceeded to expound on the significance of this short verse of just seven words.  My eyes were opened to something that in all my times reading the Book of Mormon (and particularly 1 Nephi) I had never quite caught or stopped to reflect on.

Brent explained that the reason Lehi dwelt in a tent and the reason Nephi pointed it out was to show that he had forsaken everything to be obedient to the Lord because Lehi's convictions and his faith were so strong.

Of course I realized this in a very superficial way, but like many historical events, the reality of actually living through those events is often lost to those of us who just read or hear about them.  Suddenly my mind was opened to the significance of this scripture.  It was not easy for Nephi to engrave his writings, he would have chosen carefully the things he would write.  I now realized why he wrote this simple phrase.  We see in later verses when Nephi and his brothers seek to get the brass plates from Laban, that they "went down to the land of our inheritance, and we did gather together our gold, and our silver, and our precious things." (1 Nephi 3:22)   When Laban saw the things they brought to him, "and that it was exceedingly great," he sought to kill them so he could have it.  (1 Nephi 3:25)  Thus we can assume that Lehi was a fairly wealthy man, with much to leave behind.  Nephi probably saw his father, who once dwelt in the great city of Jerusalem, with many possessions, now in the wilderness, living in a simple tent with very little.  Suddenly the phrase, "And my father dwelt in a tent" conveyed in my mind more of the reality of what it meant to have left everything.  These seven words imparted an image of humility, sacrifice, faith, and devotion.  It also suggested the respect and admiration Nephi must have had for his father.  In 1 Nephi 3:16, Nephi writes, "...for behold he left gold and silver and all manner of riches.  And all this he hath done because of the commandments of the Lord." 

Instantly I felt a kinship to Nephi, as my mind recalled a very precious memory of mine from about 9 years ago.  I had just had my first child and Brent and I went to go visit my Oma and Opa (Grandma and Grandpa in German).  My father and his family immigrated to America from East Germany.  My father passed away when I was 8 years old and while I still saw my Oma and Opa every now and then as a child, I hadn't seen them too much as an adult, but we took our new baby to their home to see them.  Brent began asking them many questions about their life in East Germany.  I hadn't heard most of the wonderful stories they began to tell of being members of the church in East Germany during the war, or about their escape to America.  My Oma told about how she'd made the beds as usual that day, put out a fresh tablecloth, and only packed a few things in order to keep up the appearance that they were just going on vacation.  They too had left everything behind to come to America.  I remember Brent marveling that they had just left everything behind, despite the danger they faced if they were caught, and wondering aloud what gave them the courage and motivation to leave.  My Oma without hesitation replied, "The Church!  And I would do it all again if I had to!  I would leave everything behind again tomorrow if they asked me to!"

As Brent and I talked to our children about this scripture, I told them of the similar legacy left for them by their great-grandparents.  I told them how important it is that we continue this legacy by leading lives of conviction, always willing to sacrifice our will for the Lord's will, always being obedient to His commandments.  Now I understand why this verse is one of Brent's favorites.  It's now one of mine too.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Miss This

I haven't written on my blogs for a very long time. It seems Facebook has become a quicker, easier way to stay in touch. But today I got on and spent a few minutes rereading some of my old posts, and mostly others' comments. I realized that I really miss it. You had wonderful comments to share and I loved your insights. I love having gospel discussions. Now that I've been in the Primary for many years, I find I really need them.
So I am going to try to return to my blogging. I hope you will continue to read and post your comments and insights too!