I’m sure you are familiar with the story relating to the great faith shown by the brother of Jared. How he reasoned out the way to illuminate the vessels that they would be crossing an ocean in, and the way his faith resulted in him seeing God.
But I would like to just ponder the events that led to this great act of faith.
Remember how they journeyed in the wilderness, crossed minor bodies of water and were told of an amazing land that would be their inheritance? Then the big test came as they arrived at the shores of a mighty ocean. Many of us have stood and looked across a large body of water that appears to have no end. It’s intimidating ! It was for the Jatadites too, as we read in Ether 2:13
“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“
Why do I say the Jatadites were overwhelmed by the task ? Because it halted their journey to the promised land for 4 years !!! We all have challenges and spiritual oceans to cross, even the brother of Jared. Things that we consider insurmountable, so what can we learn from this scripture? I think verse 14 is key…
“And it came to pass at the end of four years that the Lord came again unto the brother of Jared, and stood in a cloud and talked with him. And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord.”
The Lord chastened the brother of Jared for one thing, not camping out, not building a beach resort, but NOT CALLING ON HIM, or in other words not praying for guidance!! This is a very specific call to repentance.
It’s not for me to judge why the journey stalled, but it seems their was a lack of will to cross the water, even though a great blessing awaited. Perhaps the beach seemed so much like paradise, that they could not imagine anything better?
What stalls our journey back to God? Lack of faith? Overcome with the perceived size of the task? A feeling of comfort resulting in apathy?
The Lord wanted more for the Jaradites than they had found already, he wants more for us than we already have. Yet we often live below our priviledges. The way forward for us, is the same as it was for the brother of Jared… Speak to God!
“And the brother of Jared repented of the evil which he had done, and did call upon the name of the Lord for his brethren who were with him. And the Lord said unto him: I will forgive thee and thy brethren of their sins; but thou shalt not sin any more, for ye shall remember that my Spirit will not always strive with man; wherefore, if ye will sin until ye are fully ripe ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And these are my thoughts upon the land which I shall give you for your inheritance; for it shall be a land choice above all other lands.
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.”
It’s a simple pattern, repent, pray and work. We will find ourselves looking out over what we think is a vast challenge at some point in life . A family or work issue, a loss, or a difficult ministering assignment. Whatever the obstacle, the answer is always the same. Prayer and work.
What was the result for the brother of Jared ? He not only got to the promised land he met the Lord!
Interestingly even the part of the story where the Lord touches the stones, suggests a building of faith for the brother of Jared, note the way the stones are touched in Ether 3:6
“And it came to pass that when the brother of Jared had said these words, behold, the Lord stretched forth his hand and touched the stones one by one with his finger.”
Elder Bednar suggests tha this teaches us the importance of dealing with people ONE by ONE and also that the experience was a great way of promoting faith in an organised and incremental way. Imagine how the faith of the brother of Jared would have increased, as each stone began to shine in its turn.
Let us build each other ONE by ONE and face our mighty oceans with a prayer in our hearts and a commitment to act on the answers to those prayers !!