Lehi’s dream is among the most quoted and retold stories in the Book of Mormon. It’s as well known to most Latter-Day Saints as the stories of Adam and Eve and Noah’s Ark to most of the Western World.
In a vision, Lehi sees an angel in white. The angel leads him through a “dark and dreary waste”, after what seemed like hours, Lehi prayed that God would have mercy on him. As he prayed and walked, he came upon a field where he saw a tree “whose fruit was desirable to make one happy”.
He went to the tree and picked one of the fruits and took a bite. He said it was “most sweet, above all I have ever tasted” and “white, to exceed all the whiteness I have ever seen”. As he bit into the fruit, his soul was filled with joy.
Like all good people, when he found how wonderful the fruit is, he wanted to share it with the people he loved. He looked around to see where his wife and sons were. As he looked around, he saw a river, which ran through the field and passed the tree. At the head of the river, he saw Sariah, Nephi and Sam, looking as if they didn’t know where they were or where to go.
Lehi called to them and told them to come taste this wonderful fruit he had found. They joined him at the tree and tried it themselves. Nephi also wanted to share it with Laman and Lemuel, so he looked around for them, he saw them at the head of the river, but they refused to come to him when he called.
It was then that he saw an iron rod, like a rail along the bank of the river, with a “strait and narrow path leading to the tree. He also a fountain in the “large and spacious field” as if it was the world. He saw countless people, many were seeking the iron rod and path that led to the tree, some finding it, others continuing their search.
A mist of darkness arose causing many people to lose their way, wandering off and getting lost. However, others found the path, and holding on to the iron rod, which led them to the tree, so they could eat the fruit of it. But some who ate the fruit looked around and felt ashamed.
On the other side of the river, there was also a “great and spacious building”, standing “as if it were in the air, high above the earth”. In the windows of the building, Nephi saw people of all ages, male and female. They were dressed in expensive clothes, pointing at the people holding to the rod and eating the fruit of the tree, making fun of them.
This is what made some of the people eating the fruit ashamed. They “fell away into forbidden paths and were lost”. That’s the way the scene unfolded. Many people wandering aimlessly, others seeking the great and spacious building, while others sought the iron rod and tree.
Lehi’s dream is about all of us, and what we are looking for in life. The tree is the Tree of Life, representing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The path and iron rod are the “strait and narrow road” that leads to eternal life with Our Heavenly Father and Jesus. The Great and Spacious Building represents worldliness. The people pointing and mocking are those who make fun of the people who have accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The people who felt ashamed of eating the fruit are those who, after accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ, leave the gospel because they love the world more than they love Christ.
In a speech to BYU students, in 2007, Elder Boyd K. Packer (one of the 12 Apostles of our time) asked the question, “where do you see yourself in Lehi’s dream?” It’s a good question for all of us to think about. Are you holding to the rod, but haven’t made it to the tree to eat the fruit? Are you eating the fruit, but looking around and feeling ashamed? Were you at the tree, eating the fruit, but walked away? Are you in the Great and Spacious Building, pointing and mocking those eating the fruit? Are you wandering aimlessly in the mist of darkness? Are you at the head of the river, with friends or family urging you to come to the tree? Or are you at the tree, enjoying the fruit, urging your friends and family to come eat too?
Someone once joked, “It’s a great and spacious building, you would think the people there would have a lot more to do than stand at the windows pointing and laughing at a bunch of people sitting around a tree, eating fruit!” But we all know people who are among the pointers and mockers; you might even be one of them,
For me, I think I’ve taken my place in each of the scenarios. When I was a teenager in Utah, I was surrounded by Mormons. I did know a few people of other religions (and at least 2 who were atheist), but when you’re a kid who has only lived in one place, I think you kind of expect the whole world to be the same as your little corner of it. I even remember an argument about whether or not The Partridge Family were Mormons. I remember thinking, well; they don’t smoke or drink, so my guess was that they were. Lol
Anyway, in jr high, I decided it was more fun to hang out in the parking lot than to go to class. I also decided it was more fun to smoke and get into trouble than to be like the “straight” kids (yeah, the terms “straight” and “not straight” have come to mean something totally different today ;~D). I was definitely among those in the Great and Spacious Building.
I have also tasted the fruit, and been among both who looked around, were ashamed, and walked away, and (now) enjoying the fruit and the beauty of the tree because I found the Iron Rod and held to it. Of course, between the times I’ve been in the Great and Spacious Building, and the Tree, I’ve wandered aimlessly too.
So where do you see yourself in Lehi’s Dream? Is it where you want to be? Only you can answer that question for yourself, but there are many of us willing and able to help you out if you aren’t happy with your answer.
We’re at the Tree calling to our friends and family, just as Jesus Christ commanded us to do.
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