It's warming up quite a bit here in Utica. Compared to the sweater/coat weather we had in previous weeks it's becoming hot and muggy. It's been well over 90 degrees for the past few days and I'm not sure if you can go over 100% humidity or not, but we probably did. I've never been a huge fan of the humidity, but I guess I'll deal with it!
This past week as Elder Haslam and I were reading in the Book of Mormon with a less-active member. We decided to read 1 Nephi 16, incidentally one of my favorite Book of Mormon chapters, and to focus on the faith that Nephi had to act even in a tough situation. But what caught my eye this time around was verse 16, which reads:
"And we did follow the directions of the ball
[the liahona], which led us in the more fertile parts of the wilderness.
As they followed and "gave heed", as the scriptures say, to the liahona, they were led through good portions of the wilderness. I had to pause and think for a bit about how much of a blessing it must have been to be led in the more lush parts of the Arabian peninsula near the Red Sea. We read in this chapter of how Nephi broke his bow, and usually we describe it like we would if we accidentally dropped our phones and the battery popped out. Nephi breaking his bow was a big deal, as was being in the best parts of the wilderness. We'll do a quick headcount of who they had to provide food for:
Lehi and Sariah
Laman and his wife
Lemuel and his wife
Sam and his wife
Nephi and his wife
Zoram and his wife
Ishmael and his wife
Ishmael's oldest son and his wife
Ishmael's middle son and his wife
Ishmael's youngest son and his wife
We also know that Ishmael had sons who had wives, not sure how many, but we'll just assume
Ishmael's sons were comparable to Lehi's sons. So we'll guess 3 sons to be on the safe side.
If we assume that at the time they didn't have any kids, and Jacob and Joseph hadn't been born yet, that is still 20 people to provide food for. I've never personally had to feed 20 people before, but I've had to provide food for 4 missionaries and I think the amount they eat is about equal. That's a ton of food, and likely a large portion of the hunting lay on the shoulders of Nephi.
So how great a blessing and comfort is must have been to have been led in the "more fertile parts of the wilderness". Don't get the scriptures wrong, they were still in the wilderness. It wasn't that when they were disobedient they walked through the Sahara in the noon-day sun and when they were obedient they were riding on segways in air conditioning. They still were in an untamed land, full of trials and tribulations, but when they kept the commandments and gave heed to the directions they received from Heaven, they were blessed with an easier route of travel. And such it is with our lives.
Obedience doesn't make us exempt from trials, but allows us to endure with cheerfulness and to obtain greater blessings and aid from Heaven. I know that these are true and correct principles because as I look at our mission, many missionaries who are exactly obedient (or striving to be) still struggle to find and to teach. But their attitudes are exemplary and their faith is strong that the Lord has a plan and that this is his work.
I hope that you all have a wonderful week!
Love, Elder Gailey