When I met with Elder Clayton back in January, I was told that the first hurdle readers to the Book of Mormon had to overcome was the story of Nephi and Laban. In which Nephi is commanded to go against the Church, to go against the commandments, to commit the second most grievous sin. I no longer think that this act, this teaching moment that was included in the Book of Mormon for us in these latter-days, was alone.
Before Nephi slays Laban, there is another, perhaps more subtle, similar exchange of the same spiritual magnitude that often we overlook and are told in Sunday school that, “that’s how things were back then.” Lehi, merchant perhaps goldsmith, an artisan and not an ordained prophet has a revelation and he follows it. He begins to tell others of his vision, his prophecy that he was able to see. This was common practice back then for those who received visions to go forth preaching repentance to the people.
These men were prophets in the same sense that Elisa R. Snow was a prophet who saw many things, but Lehi, like her, was NOT the prophet in the same sense that Joseph Smith or Thomas S. Monson was the prophet. Lehi was a man whom was shown a vision of the destruction of Jerusalem. Lehi followed his visions of prophecy which lead him to leave the holy city, to leave all that he had, the establishment of his livelihood, his culture, his entire life to follow this vision, this revelation that he had.
Why does the Church, that is build upon the very act of multiple lines of revelation for different groups of people, reject the possibility that I may have received revelation contrary to the current direction of the church at all, let alone for a reason, divined by God the Father, omnipotent and omniscient? Why is it that as I wander into the wilderness, away from the culture and home that I know and grew up on, I am persecuted by the Church and threatened with excommunication? Who is to say that I haven’t been granted a vision that I MUST follow? Who is to say that this vision is from Satan when it comes from the same power that prompted Lehi to take his family and leave Jerusalem?
But like Lehi, I must not cling unto Jerusalem (read: Salt Lake). I must not become Laman and Lemuel, willing to disregard the prophecy and vision of their father in order to return to the comforts of home. I have now left my home and will never return. I might return in body, but my mind is forever changed, expanded, and I will always see things through a greater lens, a more open mind and a more open heart. The same openness by which I may be being shown the mysteries of God. (see Alma 12:10)