1 Nephi 11
After hearing his father tell of his vision of the tree of life, Nephi “was desirous also that [he] might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him” (1 Nephi 10:17).
Heroes desire to know. Elder Robert D. Hales teaches us the pattern of knowing in his 2009 address “Seeking to Know God, Our Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.”
First, “cultivate a diligent desire to know that God lives. This desire leads us to ponder on the things of heaven—to let the evidence of God all around us touch our hearts.” As Nephi “sat pondering in [his heart], [he] was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord” and the Spirit asked him, “what desirest thou?” Nephi replied that he desired to see the things his father had seen. With that earnest request, Nephi was shown “the evidence of God all around us.” He saw the tree which his father had seen which was exceeding in beauty and in whiteness, “the tree which is precious above all.”
Nephi desired to know “the interpretation thereof” of the tree and the vision his father had seen. The Spirit asked Nephi, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” Nephi replied, “I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” Nephi knew that God loved him, but Nephi desired to know more about God and God’s love. The angel told him to “Look!” at the evidence of God. He saw “A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins….bearing a child in her arms.” And then the angel told him that this was “the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father” who condescended to come down to earth and “go forth among the children of men” to minister, to heal, to be “judged of the world” and “lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world.”
As he looked, Nephi knew and understood the meaning of the tree of life. “It is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things….Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.” Nephi knew that God loved his children but he came to know just how much God loved his children when he looked at the evidence. Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “The tree of life…is the love of God (see 1 Ne. 11:25). The love of God for His children is most profoundly expressed in His gift of Jesus as our Redeemer: ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son’ (John 3:16)” (“Lessons from Laman and Lemuel,” 1999).
Like Nephi, we desire to know. We ponder on the things of God. We read “the word of God” contained in the holy scriptures which is “the rod of iron” Lehi saw. Elder Hales suggested that this is the next step in the pattern to know. “With softened hearts we are prepared to heed the Savior’s call to ‘search the scriptures’ (John 5:39) and to humbly learn from them.”
The final step in knowing is to ask. “We are then ready to ask our Heavenly Father sincerely, in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, if the things we have learned are true. Most of us will not see God, as the prophets have, but the still, small promptings of the Spirit—the thoughts and feelings that the Holy Ghost brings into our minds and hearts—will give us an undeniable knowledge that He lives and that He loves us.
“Gaining this knowledge is ultimately the quest of all God’s children on the earth.” The ultimate quest of each hero is to know God. Desire to know God lives. Desire to know God loves you. Ponder on the evidences of God all around you. Search the words of God. Ask God to know if the things you have learned are true. Do the things of God you have learned. Embarking on this quest will enable you to become a hero. “The strength and peace that come from knowing God and having the comforting companionship of His Spirit will make your efforts eternally worthwhile.”