Sometimes I do what I think is right without seeking God’s approval. This usually results in God having to rescue me from my own folly. By looking at the familiar story of Nephi, Laban, and the brass plates differently, I can see that Nephi and I share in this similar problem.
The story starts with Lehi asking Nephi to support him in retrieving the brass plates from Laban. He tells Nephi this request came from God. Lehi has already approached his older sons with this task before speaking to Nephi. They refused, no big surprise…
When Lehi asks Nephi to go on the quest, Nephi readily accepts and confidently tells is father not to worry, God would prepare a way.
We know what happened. The brothers tried twice to get the plates from the powerful Laban. Not only did Laban rebuff them, he was so annoyed by the audacity of Lehi’s sons that he sent his guards out to kill them.
Is it any wonder why Laman and Lemuel didn’t want go in the first place?
After being threatened with their lives, Nephi’s brothers were ready to abandon their quest and go home. But Nephi goes out on his own having no idea what he was to do and simply trusting that God.
Now, that is the version of the story Nephi tells. But I think he left out some of the more salient details that would help each of us better relate his experience. The way I see it, because Nephi was so convinced he knew what we was doing, he failed to involve God. As a result, God had to rescue him.
This story starts out on the wrong foot. Nephi was so excited about this great adventure and so confident that God would simply show the way, he and his brothers failed to make a plan.
They knew Laban was powerful.
They knew Laban had a small army.
They knew Laban was volatile.
Knowing all that, their first attempt was to simply knock on Laban’s door and ask for the plates. I can imagine a loving and patient God shaking His head saying: “Nephi, Nephi, Nephi….”
After being rudely rejected and mocked by Laban, Nephi’s next great idea was to buy the plates. Again, I see no record of anyone pausing to ask God if He approved. My guess is that God shook his head saying: “Nephi, Nephi, Nephi…”
Laban’s temptation was too great. Not only did he easily steal their possessions, but now he felt compelled to cover up his crime by having his guards kill Lehi’s sons.
As a result of Nephi’s ill-advised actions, God had to come to the rescue.
By looking at this story differently, I can see that Nephi was really no different than I am. Because of his spiritual immaturity and natural-man tendencies to go it alone without seeking God’s approval, God had to rescue him.
But the best part of this story is that Nephi learned his lesson. From this point on, we see Nephi slowly cultivating a more sustainable relationship with God. This fact gives me hope that I can learn from my own spiritual immaturity and, in the process, improve my relationship with God.