Over the past few months I’ve focused my scripture study on patterns of revelation: How the Lord speaks to his people, when he speaks, the circumstances surrounding instances of revelation, the preparation of the receiver.
I’ve read and studied the account of the brother of Jared often over the past weeks. One day as I was reading in Ether 2, I read the following passage:
13| And now I proceed with my record; for behold, it came to pass that the Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth even to that great sea which divideth the lands. And as they came to the sea they pitched their tents; and they called the name of the place Moriancumer; and they dwelt in tents, and dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years.
16| And the Lord said: Go to work and build, after the manner of barges which ye have hitherto built. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did go to work, and also his brethren, and built barges after the manner which they had built, according to the instructions of the Lord.And they were small, and they were light upon the water, even like unto the lightness of a fowl upon the water.
The brother of Jared and his family had been led away from the Tower of Babel to go to the promised land. They had been brought to the seashore and there they stayed for four years. The brother of Jared probably would have been safe and led a wonderful life on the shore of the sea. It was most likely a beautiful place; a place where they could have lived happily for a very long time. But that wasn’t what the Lord had in store for them
His plan included a promised land—something better than what the brother of Jared might have thought when he got to the great sea. The Lord didn’t mean for them to stay. He didn’t want something that was just ‘good enough.’ He had a grand plan for the brother of Jared and his people. And it was on the other side of the sea.
When I get to my own seashores, I get too comfortable there. In fact, I often resist the Lord’s push to get me on the boat. Or to even get me started building the boat. I am simply content with where I’m at. But like the brother of Jared, my plans surely pale in comparison with what the Lord has in store.
So why resist?
Part of it is because ‘promised land journeys’ are not easy. I don’t think Nephi or the brother of Jared would tell us that building a boat and crossing massive oceans was easy. In fact, the Lord tells the brother of Jared that “the mountain waves shall dash upon you.” That sounds uncomfortable to me. And growth experiences often are. We’re stretched, pulled, and, at times, completely broken down. It’s painful. Growth is hard work. Elder Busche counsels us to “embrace the uncomfortable promptings of the Spirit.” That’s where the growth and progression comes.
The other part of resistance is related to faith. I cannot imagine getting on a homemade boat and sailing to land that I had never heard of. A land that no person I had met even knew of. That idea is utterly terrifying to me. But hasn’t the Lord showed us time and again that he is capable of doing just that? If we can set the boat in motion and get off the comfortable shore, he can see us to the promised land. But he can’t steer an anchored ship.
I love the seashore. I thrive there to be honest. But the brother of Jared’s experiences teaches me that that isn’t where I’m supposed to be. Elder Holland talks about us inheriting our goodly land, our “own little acre, flowing with milk and honey.” I’ll never get there if I don’t leave the shore.
Adapted from a previous piece I had written.