Everyone knows that Lehi “dwelt in a tent” (1 Nephi 2:15). Common knowledge if you’re a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You probably also know that Lehi was on the wealthy side of life during his life in Jerusalem because he left his riches when he left Jerusalem, listing gold and silver, etc., on the list of things that were abandoned (1 Nephi 2:4). If you use the little search box at scriptures.lds.org and look for the word “tent” in the Book of Mormon and stick to just the start (where Lehi is mentioned) you’ll see that Nephi made mention of Lehi’s tent a number of times. One of these instances stood out to me recently.
In 1 Nephi 9:1, Nephi shares that Lehi saw and heard and spoke “these things” as he lived in a tent in the valley of Lemuel, and that there were more things experienced as well. “These things” refers to Lehi’s famous “Tree of Life” vision; easily one of the most important visions in Lehi’s experience or in the Book of Mormon. For some reason it struck me that Nephi seemed to go out of his way to mention that Lehi was living in a tent when this great revelation was received. Why? Why point that out?
Lehi wasn’t living his ideal life at this point. I mean, who in Jerusalem would imagine wealthy, successful Lehi living in a tent in some random valley, far from friends, family, business associates, and trade routes? I can’t image that Lehi ever pictured this life for himself. But there he was, in very humble circumstances. Or, better said, in very humbling circumstances. And that is where the revelation was received.
Two possible principles:
- Maybe Nephi is subtly teaching that we don’t have to been in the best of circumstances to receive revelation. Maybe having life go smoothly isn’t a prerequisite for spiritual experiences. So, if you are dwelling in a tent, so to speak, as opposed to where you’d like or where you pictured yourself, you aren’t out of luck when it comes to the blessings of heaven.
- Which brings me to possible principle number two. And that is, maybe Lehi’s humbling circumstances are the very reason he was qualified to receive this important heavenly message. And if that is the case, thank the heavens for those times in our lives when we find ourselves in humbling circumstances, where personal revelation is more likely to settle on and in our hearts and minds.
I don’t know for sure, of course. But, I am more thankful for the moments I find myself out in the tent as opposed to in the castle. I need all the heavenly help I can get.