Many years ago Stephen Robinson wrote the parable of the bicycle. Everyone in the Church at one time or many times has heard the story of the little girl who diligently saves her pennies to buy a bicycle and how her loving father lets her pick out a bicycle, pay her few dollars, then makes up the large deficit to buy the bike. It is a popular story to retell in talks and Home Evenings and Sunday lessons. But too often as we listen to the parable we think it applies to judgement day. At the great day of judgement Jesus Christ will step forward to save us–to make up for all we lack. But the Savior doesn’t wait until life is over to help us.
Nephi understood this concept. That’s why when his father asked him to go back for the plates, he simply answered, “I will go and do.” It wasn’t that Nephi felt he had all the
strength and skill and knowledge it would take to obtain the plates. Nephi agreed to go without hesitation because he knew that Jesus Christ had all the strength, skill and knowledge he would need. And so he went. But that is not all Nephi understood. Nephi knew that the grace of God
doesn’t always float down from heaven like rain and drench us in power the moment we first ask for it or the second we are in need. Nephi understood how the enabling power of God works.
Nephi made the long trip back to Jerusalem with nagging, murmuring brothers. But he didn’t let their complaining deter him. After they arrived in Jerusalem, Laman asked Laban for the plates and Laban refused. Nephi didn’t let that deter him. Next the brothers went back to the home they had left behind and gathered up their gold and silver and tried to buy the plates from Laban. Greedily, Laban took their gold and silver, but refused to give them the plates and to hide his robbery, he sent men to kill Nephi and his brothers.
About this time one would think that Nephi would be doubting whether the “Lord 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). I’m sure the kvetchers Laman and Lemuel repeated those words in an attempt to make Nephi eat them. But still Nephi wasn’t deterred. He knew God would help in His own way and in His own time. And so he said to his brothers, “Wherefore can ye doubt? Let us go up; the Lord is able to deliver us.”
One wonders how Nephi dared pose such a question to the complaining brothers. So far all of reality is on their side. “Wherefore could they doubt?” Well for starters, they had tried to be obedient twice and for their efforts they had been ridiculed, robbed and almost murdered. You can hear Laman and Lemuel respond to Nephi, “Yea, He is able to deliver us, but will he?”
This is the question faith poses for each one of us. We’ve read the scriptures. We know He is able, but do we trust that He will? Too often we rationalize that His saving power is reserved for the day of judgement or is only for prophets and other people.
Nephi understood that faith must be tried and tested, that lessons need to be learned, but that God always helps us. So despite the hardship, despite the difficulty, he persisted and went back into Jerusalem to get the plates fully aware that it he was not doing it himself but that he was empowered by the Lord. He didn’t feel inadequate because he knew he wasn’t the one doing it.
There is much we can learn from Nephi. So often we find ourselves feeling inadequate. We are tempted to turn down callings, or to refuse opportunities to speak in meetings, or to go about our days depressed and berating ourselves because we are incapable and make so many mistakes. The truth is we are inadequate and incapable and we will make mistakes. But Jesus Christ has promised to make up for our inadequacies. His saving power is not reserved for judgement day. His saving power is offered every day. If we persist. If we trust. He will help us do whatever we need to do no matter how overwhelming the task may seem.