1 For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.
2 And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, what desirest thou?
3 And I said: I desire to behold the things which my father saw.
4 And the Spirit said unto me: Believest thou that thy father saw the tree of which he hath spoken?
5 And I said: Yea, thou knowest that I believe all the words of my father.
6 And when I had spoken these words, the Spirit cried with a loud voice, saying: Hosanna to the Lord, the most high God; for he is God over all the earth, yea, even above all. And blessed art thou, Nephi, because thou believest in the Son of the most high God; wherefore, thou shalt behold the things which thou hast desired.
(1 Nephi 11:1-6)
Desire and belief are a pretty powerful combination.
After hearing his father describe a dream or a vision he had experienced, and then after hearing him prophesy of the coming of a Savior, Nephi wanted to “see, and hear, and know” these things for himself (1 Nephi 10:17). His desire was strong, and his belief was sincere. As he explains in the first verse of the passage above, that combination of desire and belief prepared him to receive the blessing that came next. At the beginning of the vision which followed, the Spirit of the Lord asked him two questions:
- “What desirest thou?”
- “Believest thou that they father saw the tree of which he hath spoken?”
Nephi’s answers to both questions were crucial to his ability to receive and appreciate the experience that would follow. Without a genuine desire to know for himself, and without a willingness to believe, he could not have understood and applied the knowledge he was about to receive.
I love the following explanation by Elder L. Whitney Clayton about our choice to believe:
Prophets across the ages have encouraged us and even implored us to believe in Christ. Their exhortations reflect a fundamental fact: God does not force us to believe. Instead He invites us to believe by sending living prophets and apostles to teach us, by providing scriptures, and by beckoning to us through His Spirit. We are the ones who must choose to embrace those spiritual invitations, electing to see with inward eyes the spiritual light with which He calls us. The decision to believe is the most important choice we ever make. It shapes all our other decisions….
Belief and testimony and faith are not passive principles. They do not just happen to us. Belief is something we choose—we hope for it, we work for it, and we sacrifice for it. We will not accidentally come to believe in the Savior and His gospel any more than we will accidentally pray or pay tithing. We actively choose to believe, just like we choose to keep other commandments (“Choose to Believe,” General Conference, April 2015).
Today, I will follow Nephi’s example as I seek greater spiritual understanding. I will act on my desires by choosing to believe that God will help me. I will remember that desire and belief together can unlock the door to spiritual knowledge.