This is a story about a very old man with a grey beard and hair as white as your eyes. You know him as Lehi the prophet. He is the same man who preached in Jerusalem. He took his family into the wilderness where they walked around for eight years. They built camps, bows, and a ship. They even crossed the ocean.
But that was just the beginning. After crossing the ocean, they built a new home in the Promised Land. Now it was called the Promised Land not only because it was the land God promised to them, but also because it came with a special promise. It came with the promise that if Lehi and his family were good and kind and righteous, then they would be safe and happy forever.
But the problem with forever is that the closer you get to it, the further it runs. It’s like trying to catch a squirrel or a dog that doesn’t want to be caught. Or it’s like trying to place one of your toes on the horizon. Or maybe it’s like trying to see the back of your head without a mirror. Or like looking between two mirrors and finding where your reflection disappears.
You see the main problem is that we can spend our whole life walking towards forever and still never reach it. And that’s what Lehi had done. He spent his life looking for a place where he would be safe and happy, and his children would be safe and happy, and where his grandchildren would be safe and happy forever. And that’s why he did all the stuff he did. Because he believed that if they worked together, they could reach forever.
Lehi was getting old and realized he was not going to reach forever and so before he died he gave each of his sons a blessing. A blessing is like a gift that would give them strength to keep walking even when they got tired. Or would help them be good even when they wanted to be bad. Or would give them encouragement even when they were ready to give up.
To Laman and Lemuel he gave the blessing of forgiveness. Even though they had done bad things and would do bad things, God would be merciful. He would let them repent and they could be cleaned. And their mistakes would be washed away not just from their own lives, but even from the lives of their children.
To Jacob he gave the blessing of knowledge. He told Jacob about Adam and Eve and how God had created all of mankind. And that they were all children of God. And that God would look after them. And while sometimes things were hard and sometimes people were bad, it was all for a greater purpose. It was not insignificant. Nothing was insignificant. This gift of knowledge would help Jacob see beauty and grace even when things seemed bad and sad and unfair.
To Joseph he gave the blessing of hindsight and foresight. He told him about other people named Joseph. Like the Joseph who was sold into Egypt. And Joseph Smith the farmer. And his son Joseph Smith the prophet. By looking back across history and across his life Lehi’s son Joseph was able to see that God’s hand had been in everything. And by looking forward he could see that God’s hand was still going to be in everything. And so he didn’t have to worry so much. He knew everything was going to be alright.
To Sam and Nephi (and even their friend Zoram) he gave the gift of children. Which in a way was all the gifts. Through children they would learn to repent and forgive. They would gain knowledge. Most importantly, they would learn about love. What it is. What it feels like. And in this way they’d understand God a little better. Because he is also a father who loves his children. They would see grace in the past and have hope for the future. Because having a child is having hope.
And these were the blessings Lehi gave his children. And he told them to take these blessing and to keep on heading towards forever. Lehi’s voice was rough. His skin was wrinkled like a bed sheet in the morning. There was a tear in his eye. And he said he loved all his children and their children and their children’s children. And he told them to keep heading for forever. And he told them that when they reached it, he would be there waiting for them.
And then he was gone.