I started reading the Book of Mormon again this new year. I love Nephi. I love his strength and courage, especially when he had to do hard things. So, I’ve been wondering how he knew what to do. I was paying attention to that today as I read Nephi’s words, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that 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.)
But then, after being asked to do something unexpected and said, “I was led by the Spirit not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.” (Nephi 4:6.) And then, a few verses later, he tells us, : “I knew. . . therefore I did obey. . . .” (1 Nephi 4:16-18.)
So which comes first? The sure knowledge, or the action? Do we do something because we know the outcome, or do we trust and act, not fully knowing why? Nephi’s mother, Sariah complained when her sons returned to Jerusalem and were gone for more than a month. Only after they returned safely did she say, “Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my [family]to flee into the wilderness. . . .” (1 Nephi 5:8.)
I’ve decided there is not a one true answer to this question. Sometimes we must act on what we know. But often, we must trust good sources and act without knowing. I found myself considering my new family history students this evening, knowing I am about to ask them to do many things they’ve not done before. I hope they will trust me. If they do, I will lead them to experiences that will bring them great joy. It’s up to each of us to decide when to follow and why.