Take Nephi for example:
Nephi is a man of great initiative. When Lehi was commanded to leave Jerusalem, Nephi obediently followed his father. When told to go back for the plates of brass, he went willingly. After the first failed attempt, Nephi made the decision to attempt to buy the plates from Laban with the family wealth. When that didn’t work, he tried a third time, this time “led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do.” (1 Nephi 4:4) After he and his brothers returned to the camp with Ishmael’s family, his father prophesied about many things, and also talked about his vision of the tree of life.Nephi desired confirmation of his father’s words, and so didn’t grumble in confusion like his brothers. He had a knowledge of the blessings given to those who diligently seek God. He took the initiative and asked. So he was granted the opportunity to see the same things his father saw, the same things every prophet saw from Adam on down.
When Nephi’s fancy silver bow broke, he made a new one out of wood and an arrow to go with it. So he knew about woodwork and fletching. He could have taken the compass himself – later known as the Liahona – as he went hunting, but he didn’t. He showed respect for his father as the head of the family and the Lord’s prophet by asking him to inquire where Nephi should hunt.
When he is commanded to build a ship in order to take his family across the water, Nephi takes the initiative, and at the same time we see another of his skills coming through, and asks “Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me? And it came to pass that the Lord told me whither I should go to find ore, that I might make tools.” (1 Nephi 17:9-10)
After the colony is on its way across the ocean to the Promised Land, Laman, Lemuel, their wives and the sons of Ishmael start acting out in a disrespectful way. When Nephi speaks to them about it, they get mad and tie him to the mast. We know what happens after that. The compass stops working, a storm builds over the next four days until the brothers see that they’re about to die and so release Nephi.
Here’s the interesting thing: after everything that Nephi has gone through up to this point, still he spends all day praising God after he’s released, never murmuring once. I can’t imagine what that’s like. Yet in 2nd Nephi, he grieves because of his sins.
He’s an intriguing man. I would love to meet him someday, just to talk to him about how he managed to have such strong faith when even his father murmured. His oldest brothers tried on several occasions to kill him. Eventually he had to flee with any who would go with him, to save their lives.
I’m left to wonder: how many of us, if ever faced with a similar modern-day situation, would have the same strong, unshakable faith as Nephi?
(all images came from gospelart.lds.org)