The “what” of revelation is common and critical. Every day before I go forth to serve, I ask the Lord what He would have me do. He normally helps me with that. While He also helps me with the “how to do it” part as well, that part seems to be more left up to me. Often, I am left, like Nephi, to go forward in companionship with the Holy Ghost, “not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.” Nephi knew the “what.” He was supposed to obtain the Brass Plates of Laban. The “how” was left more to his own inventive initiative. I believe this is to help us to learn and grow.
The same principle applied to The Brother of Jared. His “what” was to build barges and cross the sea. When he sought to obtain light for the barges the Lord asked Mahonri Moriancumer what he would have Him do. He wanted His servant to use and develop his own imagination. Mahonri then went and molten out of rock sixteen small stones with the intent that they would provide light during the long passage across the sea.
I am quite certain that in preparing those stones to be presented before the Lord, this great prophet put forth his very best effort. Still, despite all his exertions the stones did not shine forth with any light. How often do our best efforts fall short as well? How often do we, with the best of intentions and earnest effort come up short of our objectives?
So, the Book of Ether tells us that The Brother of Jared took those sixteen stones to the Lord and then, acknowledging his own weakness as well as the infinite might and power of God, requested the He put forth his finger and touch them that they might shine.
When we go to speak in Sacrament Meeting, or give a Family Home Evening lesson, or prepare a Home Teaching message, do we do our best to prepare the thing which we intend? Then falling short, in our mortal weakness, do we present our best efforts before the Lord and request that He put forth his finger and touch them that they might shine forth in the brilliance of truth and testimony? We can. We are afforded every privilege given to the Jaredite prophet. We can take our efforts to the Lord and be assured that He will lend His grace and assistance to make our efforts shine.
Consider applying this principle to parenthood, marriage, church service, efforts in your employment, indeed every endeavor in life.
Perhaps most important in understanding the story of the sixteen small stones is the fact that The Brother of Jared began with the intention of needing and receiving the Lord’s help. He did not create those stones thinking he might somehow get lucky and shape stones that would shine of their own accord. He knew from the beginning of the project that he would require the added power and influence of God. His approach to the Lord was not one of, “Well, that didn’t work, guess I’ll have to beg the Lord to rescue this mess.” Rather it was one that intended to have God’s power infused into it from the very beginning.
It must also be the same with us. From the very beginning of our marriage we would do well to understand that without the touch of God, it will not shine as it might. The same goes for the lessons we teach, the service we render, the projects and assignments we undertake, the meals we prepare…
Such was not the attitude of the tower builders of Babel, but it was so of the barge builders called the Jaredites.