Shortly after the death of Lehi, the first prophet in the Book of Mormon, the animosity between his children became more severe. One of the sons, Nephi, was warned by the Lord to take his family and anyone who wanted to go with him and depart into the wilderness because his life was in danger (2 Nephi 5:1-6).
The group traveled for many days and eventually built a city in a land which they called Nephi after their leader. They planted crops, constructed buildings, and forged weapons to defend themselves:
And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us; for I knew their hatred towards me and my children and those who were called my people (2 Nephi 5:14).
The goal wasn’t to fight; it was to be prepared in case they had to fight.
Many years later, as the descendants of Nephi (the Nephites) faced an imminent attack by the descendants of his brothers (the Lamanites), Captain Moroni put his people to work preparing themselves for the invasion. They surrounded their cities with “ridges of earth.” On top of those ridges, they erected “works of timbers,” and on the works of timbers, they built “frames of pickets,” with towers overlooking them. “Thus Moroni did prepare strongholds against the coming of their enemies, round about every city in all the land” (Alma 50:6).
The strategy was successful: his recruiting efforts prospered. His armies “did increase daily because of the assurance of protection which his works did bring forth unto them” (Alma 50:12). Everyone wants to be part of a winning team, and Moroni was demonstrating by his diligent preparation that his team was certain to win.
Louis Pasteur said, “Fortune favors the prepared mind” (Lecture, University of Lille, 7 December 1854, quoted in Ouvres de Pasteur, 131). Perhaps one reason is because preparation sets our minds at ease, reduces the uncertainty and therefore the stress we feel. When we’ve taken the time and done the work to prepare, we move forward with more confidence and with fewer distractions and worries. Perhaps that’s why Nephi said his people “lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:27), and why “there never was a happier time among the people of Nephi, since the days of Nephi, than in the days of Moroni” (Alma 50:23).
The word provident means “making…timely preparation for the future” (Oxford English Dictionary). It doesn’t mean being obsessed with the future; it means being ready for it. When we are living providently, we can enjoy peace and security because we know that we’re ready for whatever might happen. We can reduce our level of worry. When we are prepared for the future, we can think less about the future and live in the present.
Today, I will follow the examples of Nephi’s and Moroni’s people by living providently. I will be aware of the risks my family faces and will take prudent actions to ensure that we are mitigating those risks. I will allow that preparation to put my mind at ease, so that I can live in the moment and find joy.