Some may wonder what has happened to our family since I wrote about learning to trust in the Lord when prompted to make a move to France, not knowing beforehand how any of it was going to work out but willingly moving forward.
We have crossed our own ocean, leaving the shore behind, and seen the Lord guide our every step. The waters have been anything but smooth sailing in many respects, but somehow a path not visible to our eyes seems to have opened up and, one step at a time, we are slowly moving out of complete darkness to a place in which we are starting to see some light.
In this process, I have reflected on Lehi's and Nephi's experiences many times, clinging to their examples. Like many others, I have often read the account of Lehi’s dream, his family's departure to follow the Lord's commandments and the life this created for Nephi and his brothers. These experiences became a means to define their testimonies or, perhaps, for Laman and Lemuel, thanks to their own free will and choices, were a missed opportunity to come closer to the Lord.
We often jokingly say that perhaps these early chapters are the most-read pages of the Book of Mormon because so many start reading and never finish until prompted again, and then start all over. I experienced this quite a few times in my youth until a particular experience with the Book of Mormon in my late teenage years that helped define and shape my testimony for the rest of my life.
Could there be a reason these are the first chapters in the Book of Mormon? I believe so. What if these first chapters actually contain some of the greatest lessons we are to learn on this earth?
Nephi learned early on what trusting in the Lord truly means, which had to happen in order for him to become an instrument in the hands of the Lord to achieve a purpose that could not be accomplished any other way.
"Trust" gives the sense of an ongoing thing. One cannot give his or her trust once, then start seeing the hand of the Lord and be done with it.
Nephi trusted in the Lord when his family was asked to find a promised land. Once on the journey, while his family was blessed and sustained after making that step, many other times came when Nephi had to do things that would require continued trust.
Consider having to go back after weeks of traveling to get plates from someone who could potentially kill you and trust that a way would be provided, or breaking a bow that’s all you have to feed your family and having to rely on the Lord to survive.
Or imagine arriving to the land Bountiful, finally finding a beautiful place of plenty after years of traveling, and then being asked to continue the journey. To top it off, this part of the journey would require a boat. For us, it would be like being asked to build a space shuttle. Overwhelming, isn’t it? But through obedience and continuous trust, we get to witness a tremendous demonstration of love, miracles and nurturing, leading to blessings beyond imagining.
Isn’t trusting in the Lord a characteristic that is at the core of finding true happiness in this life and preparing ourselves to return to our Father’s presence? We may often become discouraged because things don’t seem to work out the way we thought they would or because we have not been blessed with certain things, even though we feel we have shown the Lord that we trust him.
Even more interestingly, we embark on paths we never would have chosen ourselves without any idea why and how we might continue. This constant trial of our faith becomes an opportunity to strengthen our testimonies and to truly develop trust that eradicates any doubt.
There have been days since our arrival in France when I have felt there was still so much more to give than I possibly could. The crossing of our own oceans in life becomes a means to an end but not the end. As we go from one opportunity for growth to another, we are given the blessing to use these opportunities to strengthen our testimonies or to struggle as we rely on our own strength. We do not get to see the end from the beginning, like we get to see exploring the Book of Mormon, but the lessons and principles are identical to our learning. The outcome to exemplifying that trust can be the same in our own lives.
As our family settles, the Lord has blessed us with the means to support ourselves working for an outstanding organization. But even so, there are days when adapting and facing administrative challenges and other unknowns come as constant reminders that this is a continuing process. We trust that in the end, all will be well for those who follow the Lord, regardless of the path we are asked to take.
My words are intended as a message of hope and support to all of you who might be crossing your own ocean for however long you have to endure in order to reach a new level the Lord has intended for you. To those asked to build your own boats not knowing how it can ever be possible, those thinking you might have given all you have to get to your own land of promise and then realize that there is still much more of a journey to travel: Hang on! Discouragement is a real feeling that can creep into each of our lives, but trusting in the Lord has power to sustain us beyond anything this world can offer as a remedy for such feelings.
Our Father wanted us to know up front, even in the scriptures, that in order to develop the faith and character we needed to become like him, we would need opportunities to keep trusting. Welcoming these opportunities becomes a choice and an opportunity in itself.
Take the time to recognize and celebrate your demonstrations of trust by writing down your feelings when you recognize how much that step in life has been a blessing to you. The day will come when that sacred writing will become more valuable to you than anything else in this world. Strengthened by a lifetime of experiences when you have seen that the Lord truly never abandons his children, your ability to trust in him will be enhanced.
I do not speak as one who has become like Nephi during this learning period of my life. But I am grateful to have been blessed with a dear wife and others whose ability to trust no matter what is a tremendous example to me when times are difficult.
What I know is this: crossing those waters is a process, not the destination. Laman and Lemuel lost that perspective. They missed their opportunity in thinking the means was the end and ended up murmuring all along the way, even refusing to ask for the blessing to spiritually understand that end. If only they had been willing to look up!
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I am grateful for a loving Father who knows what is best for his children. There is so much hope in trusting, and, as we learn early on in the scriptures, it is perhaps one of the greatest lessons we are here to learn and the only way we will ever make it through the challenges we face.
Founder of lessaintsdesderniersjours.com, a website sharing news about and around the church in French to worldwide Francophones, Roland Lepore moved to Lyon, France, with his family after living in Utah for the past 10 years.