There is a point in every young Mormon’s life when in search of a quick verse to memorize they discover 1 Nephi 2:15. “And my father dwelt in a tent.”
For the longest time I considered this to be a very odd verse. Then I realized how much more this verse was telling me than I had originally thought. Throughout the first few chapters Nephi frequently makes a point of mentioning that something happened while his father dwelt in a tent. Obviously that was important! There really had to be more to this verse than an easy memorizing opportunity.
Then I read 1 Nephi 3:16.
Wherefore, let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; therefore let us go down to the land of our father’s inheritance, for behold he left gold and silver, and all manner of riches. And all this he hath done because of the commandments of the Lord.
And then it all made sense.
Nephi’s father, Lehi, a prophet who lived in Jerusalem, was commanded by the Lord to leave the city and follow His lead into the wilderness. Lehi went and did as the Lord commanded him. But he didn’t just leave a humble home, he left a very comfortable life, with lots of riches behind to follow the Lord. He went, and chose poverty and hardship based on his faith in the Lord. He was willing to live in a tent.
To me that realization has been very powerful. The example Lehi showed us has always been great, but now I view it as even more of a sacrifice he made. It was not unlike the sacrifices the early saints made when following the Lord’s call they gathered in the Salt Lake Valley, leaving their lives, homes, loved ones behind.
I’m grateful that the Lord no longer requires us to move to new lands, giving up everything. I’m grateful to live in a time when the stakes of Zion are all over the world, and we can receive the blessings of the restored gospel in our own homelands, in our own languages. Without Lehi doing what he did we would not have the clear message of the Book of Mormon today. One man’s obedience has blessed millions of people, and the clessings continue on.