Nephi was a man who lived 600 BC. He was also a prophet, son, husband, father, brother, and a darn good person.
Nephi's father, Lehi, was also a prophet and Lehi received revelation that Jerusalem would be destroyed and that he needed to take his family and leave so that they wouldn't die along with all those that would not repent. (Jeremiah had the same revelation here and here. Jerusalem was later sacked and conquered by the Babylonians).
After journeying for a while, Lehi was told by the Lord that he needed to send his sons back to Jerusalem to get the plates of brass, which contained not only scriptures, but also their family history. They needed these so they could continue to teach their decedents the gospel, and preserve their history. Those of you that know anything about oral history know that it doesn't take much for the stories to change. Oral history is like a giant game of telephone, except over generations and hundreds of years, instead of a dozen bored students. Not exactly ideal for preserving your sacred beliefs, so the plates of brass were definitely a must.
So Nephi and his three older brothers traveled back, and tried again and again to get these plates from this guy named Laban. Laban was not only wicked, but really rude. Even when they brought all their gold, silver, and other riches to buy the plates, Laban just said "I'm keepin' all this, and the plates of brass, and, oh, guards go kill them." So rude.
Long story short, Nephi ended up going back one more time, believing that God "giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them" (1 Nephi 3:7). So even though he had no idea what he was doing, he went on anyways, trusting that God would help him get the plates.
Here's where it gets really interesting. That night, Laban went out partying and got drunk. Really drunk. Passed out in the city streets drunk. And that's where Nephi found him.
Nephi went into this not knowing what he was going to do or what was going to happen and when he found Laban, the Holy Spirit told him that to get the plates, he needed to kill Laban. Now, Nephi is a great guy, the best of guys even, and he didn't want to do this. I don't blame him, I wouldn't want to kill anyone either. So it took several very direct instructions of saying "Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands; Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief." (1 Nephi 4:12)
(I found this great picture here)
Without getting graphic, Nephi killed Laban. Then he put on Laban's armor and sword, then went to find a servant to get him the plates.
Most of the time when we talk about this scripture story, we talk about how great of a miracle that Laban was there and so drunk he wouldn't wake up. But my favorite part is what comes next.
OK, God kept blessing Nephi, even after he found Laban. So, not only did he just happen to find the right servant who had the keys to the treasury, but he was able to talk to Zoram (the servant) about the "elders of the Jews," with enough knowledge to be convincing that he knew the specific elders he was talking about, in at least a semblance of Laban's voice, and to make small talk (or maybe they talked politics, I dunno) "as if he had been Laban!" Talk about cool beans! In all that time, I have no doubt that the Lord was continually helping Nephi, to know what to say, and how to say it, and to have Zoram believe it.
I love this story so much, because it's a reminder to me of all the little miracles that we have the tendency to overlook. I can't tell you how many times I read the Book of Mormon before I caught onto this, and it blew my mind a little bit when I realized just how perfectly the Lord set this up for Nephi.
OK, personal application time with a personal story.
Yesterday I had a little break down over my mission. Not a "why am I doing this" break down, but a "am I really good enough for this" break down.
They happen. It's a normal "pre-mie" (pre-missionary) thing to do.
Now, before you freak out, I know that I have a good gospel knowledge, I know that I am good at loving people, I know I can teach well, and I know that if I work hard and I am obedient I can become a really good missionary.
But I also know my weaknesses. My inner stubbornness, my self doubts, my silly worries, my serious worries-all the things that could get in the way of me being the very best missionary I can be. All the things that could get in the way of me helping all the people I can, whether it's make their day better, or help them receive the message of the restored gospel.
I know these faults, and I had a panic that these things (and more, but the internet doesn't need to know all my imperfections), would become a really big issue under the stress of a mission.
Maybe that sounds silly, but this fear is real for me. I know that I have a lot of work to do when I get to Mexico, and I don't want my pesky natural man to keep my from doing all my Father in Heaven needs me to do.
After literally falling to my knees in prayer, I felt that I should read my patriarchal blessing.
Then, a miracle happened.
I've read my blessing countless times since I received it almost six years ago, some parts I even have some parts memorized and recite to myself during trials. But reading it this time was like breathing brand new air.
Everyone of my worries was addressed and soothed. There were no promises that I would be perfect, that I would never mess up, or that I would never have any worries. But there was promise after promise, line after line that said that a mission is what I am supposed to do, and that I have been given the family, spiritual gifts, talents, and experiences that I need to do what my Father in Heaven needs me to.
Now, this isn't new doctrine. Heavenly Father has been telling his children these things since Adam and Eve.
But being told them again in my exact moment of worry and need, now that's more beautiful than I can say.
I know that I am a literal Daughter of God. That he loves me. That he strengthens me when weak and challenges me when I'm strong. I know that "our Heavenly Father did not put us on earth to fail but to succeed gloriously." (Richard G. Scott).
I'm going to Mexico so that I can teach others these same things, so that they too can come to recognize the many blessings and miracles that are placed in our lives every single day. So many more than we realize.
And I also know, that despite my many weaknesses, I can do this.
Only 52 days!