50 And I said unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done.
51 And now, 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?
(1 Nephi 17:50-51)
It’s one thing to believe that God can do anything. It’s another to believe that you can do anything with God’s help. The first kind of belief might lead to humility and prayer, but only the second will lead to action.
In the first of the Lectures on Faith, written by Joseph Smith and other church leaders for the School of the Prophets in Kirtland, Ohio, we learn that faith is a principle of action and also of power (“First Theological Lecture on Faith, circa January–May 1835,” josephsmithpapers.org). Elder David A. Bednar explained: “True faith is focused in and on the Lord Jesus Christ and always leads to righteous action…which increases our spiritual capacity and power (“Ask in Faith,” General Conference, April 2008).
I’m impressed with Nephi’s response to the commandment to build a ship. He didn’t ask God to do it for him. He didn’t ask for someone more qualified to fulfill the assignment. He asked where he could go to find ore to make the tools he would need (1 Nephi 17:9). The Lord showed him “from time to time” how to build the ship, and he built it according to the Lord’s instructions, not “after the manner of men” (1 Nephi 18:1-2). And Nephi went to work, believing that with God’s help, he would be successful in building a seaworthy vessel for his family.
It stands to reason that, if the purpose of this life is our growth and progression, God will not do everything for us. He will ask us to do hard things. But it also stands to reason that, as a loving parent, He will not leave us alone. As we act in faith, He will help us accomplish the difficult things he has commanded us to do. (See 1 Nephi 3:7, 1 Nephi 17:3).
Today, I will act in faith. I will believe not only that God can do all things, but that I can do anything He wants me to do with His help. Like Nephi, I will get to work, trusting that the Lord will send guidance along the way “from time to time” in order to help me accomplish the things I have been commanded to do.