My studies of the Book of Mormon – Another Witness of Jesus Christ have been very interesting this week. I have particularly been fascinated by the story of Nephi building a ship and how the Lord directed him in completing the task. The story is found in 1 Nephi chapters 17-18.
The family of Lehi left Jerusalem and traveled in the wilderness for eight years until they reached a land located by the sea. They called the place Bountiful because of its “much fruit” and “wild honey” (v. 5). They pitched their tents along the seashore and rested from their journey. After “many days” the Lord called to Nephi and told him to go “into the mountain”. Nephi was obedient and went (v. 7). When he was on the mountain, the Lord told him to “construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters”(v. 8). Verse 9 tells us that Nephi’s only question was about finding ore to make tools. The Lord told him where to go, and Nephi made the necessary tools (vv. 10-11). He also built the first fire since leaving Jerusalem (v. 12). He had some problems motivating his brothers to help build the ship, but the problems were solved with help from the Lord (vv. 53-55).
The ship was not constructed “after the manner men” but according to directions from the Lord. “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.
“And it came to pass that after I had finished the ship, according to the word of the Lord, my brethren beheld that it was good, and that the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine; wherefore, they did humble themselves again before the Lord” (18:3-4).
When the ship was finally finished, Lehi and his family loaded supplies on it and set sail. They arrived safely at the land promised by the Lord. I find the story itself very interesting, but I am intrigued by the communication process between the Lord and Nephi. It is obvious from the story that the Lord did not give Nephi all the directions to build a ship at one time. The Lord told Nephi to go to the mountain. Once he arrived there, the Lord told him to build a ship. In answer to Nephi’s question about building tools, the Lord told him where to go to find ore. The Lord helped Nephi to settle the problems with his brothers and then gave Nephi additional instructions as needed to build the ship.
I am particularly interested in their communication because I watched two videos about divine communication as part of this lesson. I learned a lot about inspiration and revelation and how it comes. I always wondered about the difference between inspiration and revelation, but I now know that inspiration is a different type of revelation rather than something completely different.
President James E. Faust compared divine communication to receiving a radio signal coming to his crystal set. The receiver must be attuned exactly right or it will receive only scratchy static instead of the radio signal. “So it is with inspiration. We must attune ourselves to the inspiration from God and tune out the scratchy static. We have to work at being tuned in.”
President Faust also compared divine communication to cellular phones. Cell phone are wonderful until we find ourselves in a “dead spot” such as “a tunnel or a canyon” where we cannot receive the signal. “So it is with divine communication. The still, small voice, though still and small, is very powerful. It `whispereth through and pierceth all things’ (Doctrine and Covenants 85:6). But like my old crystal set, the message may be there but we fail to pick it up. Perhaps something in our lives prevents us from hearing the message because we are `past feeling.’ (See 1 Nephi 17:45.) We often put ourselves in spiritual dead spots – places and situations that block out divine messages. Some of these dead spots include anger, pornography, transgression, selfishness, and other situations that offend the Spirit.”
I have experienced “dead spots” in my life, and I do not like them. I am learning to recognize when the Spirit is present and when it is not. When I do not feel the Spirit, I begin to investigate the reason for its absence; I much prefer having the presence of the Holy Ghost.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained some differences between inspiration and revelation. “Revelations are conveyed in a variety of ways, including, for example, dreams, visions, conversations with heavenly messengers, and inspiration. Some revelations are received immediately and intensely; some are recognized gradually and subtly.”
Elder Bednar described two different sources of light to illustrate two basic patterns of revelation. “A light turned on in a dark room is like receiving a message from God quickly, completely, and all at once. Many of us have experienced this pattern of revelation as we have been given answers to sincere prayers or been provided with needed direction or protection, according to God’s will and timing… this pattern of revelation tends to be more rare than common.
“The gradual increase of light radiating from the rising sun is like receiving a message from God `line upon line, precept upon precept’ (2 Nephi 28:30). Most frequently, revelation comes in small increments over time and is granted according to our desire, worthiness, and preparation. Such communications from Heavenly Father gradually and gently `distill upon [our souls] as the dews from heaven’ (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45). This pattern of revelation tends to be more common.”
I have received inspiration and revelation in numerous ways. For example, I was having a very difficult time being out of contact with my oldest son while he was serving a mission in Arizona. I was murmuring and complaining about not being able to see him for two years. I murmured, “Mothers can visit their sons in the army and even in prison, but I cannot see my son in the mission field.” The Spirit whispered to me, “Where would you rather have him?” I of course said on a mission. The Spirit whispered again, “Then I need to have his complete attention. This is the reason for the rule.”
I no longer murmured or complained about not seeing my son, but the Lord recognized how much I missed him and compensated me. From time to time I would have a dream about my son that allowed me to share what he was doing. In one dream I saw my son riding his bicycle and suddenly flying through the air. I of course thought the worst and spent the entire day waiting for a telephone call from his mission president. Several weeks later, my son “remembered” that he had not told me about a bicycle accident and shared how he had been riding along on his bicycle and did not see a board lying across the sidewalk. He hit it and went flying through the air, spilling the contents of his backpack but not hurting himself.
I have received direct revelation such as when the Lord confirmed the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and when He told me that I “needed” to go get my son from the mission field. I have received much information in dreams from time to time. Most of the revelations I receive come a little at a time, an idea here and an idea there, until I have a complete picture of what I am to do. I am very grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost and His presence with me so much of the time.