As Jared and his brother traveled with their families and friends through the wilderness, they carried many supplies with them which might seem unusual, including bees and fish. To carry the latter over land, they prepared a “vessel,” which I envision as a large waterproof container, something like a portable aquarium (Ether 2:1-3).
When they arrived at large bodies of water, the Lord directed them to build barges, which they would use to ferry people, animals, and supplies to the other side (Ether 2:6).
And so, when they came to the ocean and began preparing for a voyage which would last nearly a year (Ether 6:11), the Lord directed them not to do something new, but to “build, after the manner of barges which ye have hitherto built” (Ether 2:16). They had practiced crafting waterproof vessels, and they were able to leverage their skills and experience to build new barges that would withstand a much longer journey.
What were these barges like? Moroni describes them as small and light, about the length of a tree, with “peaks” on the two ends. But the main characteristic of these vessels was that they were “tight like unto a dish” (Ether 2:16-17). We also know that they were entirely enclosed, because the brother of Jared was concerned about a lack of air and light inside the vessels (Ether 2:19).
Traveling in such a vessel required extraordinary faith. When they entered their barges, they “[commended] themselves unto the Lord their God” (Ether 6:4).
There are many lessons we can learn from the barges. Here are a couple:
- Knowledge and skills grow incrementally over time. The capabilities we gain as we solve smaller problems today can prepare us to face larger challenges tomorrow.
- We must be willing to trust God, even if we can’t see where He is leading us.
Today, I will remember the educative power of the challenges I face. Like the early Jaredites building barges to cross “many waters,” I will remember that God is helping me to prepare for future opportunities as I meet the demands of today.