Thursday, January 8, 2009

Building My Ship

I feel as though I'm having a "build your ship" moment in life.

I have always enjoyed reading the story about Nephi and his family as they sojourn in the wilderness, following the guidance the Lord provides them as they seek to reach the promised land he has prepared for them. However, until my recent study of one specific part of their story I had failed to make a real correlation to it's importance in my life.

In 1 Nephi Chapter 17 (page 36 in the Book of Mormon), Nephi and his family arrive at the land "Bountiful" and they rejoiced because after much suffering, affliction and trial of their faith they had finally arrived at this fruitful, abundant place. I can imagine that as they pitched their tents in this place that they may have been saying to themselves hey, this feels good to have some comfort and beauty, and to be free of heartache and affliction for a time. I'm guessing that they desired to remain in this land for a time and enjoy the beauty and abundance it provided.

Looking back over the past year, that is essentially how I felt. I looked at the infertility problems of the past as being over, and that my pregnancy with Branson was my "land Bountiful". I thought that surely I had passed through enough affliction because of our trial of infertility that the Lord would let me rest for a while and enjoy this land bountiful of bearing children and being a mother. A land that was free of the heartache that being "baron" had brought me for so many years. However, as with the Nephi's family, this would not be the case.

After being in this land of Bountiful for only the space of many DAYS, Nephi was called upon by the Lord to construct a ship that would carry his people across the ferocious waters of the ocean that separated them from the promised land...I sit here now in awe that Nephi didn't just crumble in disappointment, or shrink in fear. Not only did they not get to rest for a season, but he was to build a ship...and not just any ship...a ship big enough and strong enough to carry his family. He'd never built a ship before...he didn't know where to begin...what tools to use, where to find the materials, or how to construct the frame. Now instead of resting in a "trial less land" he was faced with a daunting task.

On June 30th the Lord asked me to "build a ship". Although not literal as in Nephi's case, my ship is just as vital to my survival. It needs to be big, and strong enough to see my through stormy seas. Like Nephi, I didn't know where to start, or where to find the materials to build this ship...the ship of faith, patience, endurance, and trust. I hadn't built a ship like this before, and I didn't know the first thing about putting it together well enough to get me through. My days in the land bountiful had come to a quick end, and the Lord was asking me to prepare to cross these waters.

What happens next in the story would be, what I see as a defining moment for Nephi. He returned to tell his family of the task ahead and was greeted not with support, but with murmuring and complaints. His family wasn't ready to give up this land so quickly, and they had no desire to labor in this arduous task. So it was left to Nephi...would he follow the command of the Lord to build this ship and leave this fruitful land, or succumb to the natural man as his brothers had and be angry with God for putting yet another boulder in their path to this promised land?

I too have felt as though I've been at crossroads such as this. I can see very clearly at times that I have two options in front of me, and the choice is, to build a ship that will require a lot of hard work, tears, faith, trust, and patience...or to stay where I am and let myself complain, murmur, and feel sorry for myself that the Lord has even asked me to do something so hard.

I know there have been many times when I have been like Nephi's brothers, full of complaint, anger, and a lack of understanding...and perhaps at times that seems like an easier road, but tonight I pray that I can be as Nephi was...strong and firm with unwavering faith. So I take Nephi's council personally as he told his brothers:
"...murmur no more...for God has commanded me that I should build a ship. If God commanded me to do all things I could do them."

Nephi never doubted in his ability to perform this task he said,"...if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?"

With the help of the Lord Nephi did build his ship not after the manner of men, but after the manner which the Lord had shown unto him. This ship saw him and his family through to the promised land...a ship that was thought of as impossible and foolish by some...a ship that brought them to the promised land the Lord had prepared for them.

I am beginning to see that all of us, at one time or another, will have these "build your ship" moments in life...without them we wouldn't have the means of travel to make it back someday. I know that I too, with the help of the Lord, can build this ship. It's definitely a work in progress, but the Lord does show me "from time to time" the manner in which it can be done. I'll follow the example of Nephi and "pray oft to the Lord" and he will show unto me the great things that can be reached on this ship I'm building. A ship built after the Lord's blueprints, and not the blueprints the mortal inside me would have designed. I'm thankful for the tools the Lord provides at the moments I need them, not at the moments I want them...and I'm thankful he's able to know the difference.

Someday I'll set sail on my finished ship to the promises that await...a promise of a forever family that includes my sweet Branson. Until then I'll just keep building.


Loretta Valenta said...

Natalie, that was so beautiful! You amaze me with each thing that you learn and share -- thank you! We love you and continue in prayer for your beautiful family.

Gordon said...

Dear Natalie,
I am so grateful for the vision of the future that you continue to see even threw the challenges and difficulties that come your way...many of them with out understanding of why they have come????
Some times we don't see the forest because we are too close to be able to recognize it for what it is. I mention that in hopes that you are recognizing the fact that you and Rob are excercizing great faith to move forward to the edge of the light and then be willing because of a desire to be obedient to take a couple of steps in to the darkness. I know that as you continue to do this that your faith will be rewarded.
May I offer one other observation. This "ship" you are building....who is it for? Just you and Rob? Your future family...who? Would you consider this thought. There are many who read your entries and gain great hope and strength from reading them. I submit that you will never know in this life the full extent that you have helped and blessed others because of what you have gone threw and the insights that have come to you in these past months. I wonder if they are not on your ship as well as you and Rob.
What is this worth not only to you but to those you have helped? Because we live in a world where every thing of value is assessed a monotary value....if you were to attach a price tag to the intangable gifts and service that you have recieved and given...what would it be? If the amount of faith required for you to gain entrance back into the celestial kingdom was 100 lbs and it was worth a million dollors a pound...what are you going to have to go threw in order to purchase that much? The same could be said of patience, hope, service,compasion and the list goes on and on.
I don't know if any of that made any sense, but as I have watched you and Rob from a distance, I see you struggle mightly with pain and anguish...and joy and even what might appear to be at this point a small degree of understanding. I watch you continue to serve selflessly and with love and kindness. As I watch this all unfold (and it doesn't seem to unfold as quickly as we would all like it to) but I know I can see the hand of the Lord in it all. I know he loves you, I know he is mindful of you and I feel very strongly that he is proud of you and that you are moving in the direction and at the speed that he intends. I know he is in charge, I know he has a time table for all of this and as there is a place created in your heart and mind to accept and appreciate it all....he will give it to you.
Please continue to take it day by day and he will lead you along. Thanks for your love, example and faith....Just keep it going.
With Love and admiration, Love Dad

Robyn said...

I cannot begin to tell you how much admiration I have for you and Rob. I find myself in tears every time I read your posts and I'm continually amazed with each new insight. Your strength and faith has certainly helped me to see trials in a new light. Thank You.

Gordon and Jackie said...

Natalie; This entry also is reason for you to publish and have this made into a book to have on the shelves for families that have lost a child in any situation. You are too good to just let this stay here only. Publish...the Lord will guide you there just as he has here. My Love, Mom