Very early in the Book of Mormon, Lehi the prophet has a vision. He sees “a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.” This tree lies at the end of a path marked by a rod of iron. Lehi makes his way down the path, holding fast to a rod of iron because of a great midst of darkness, and partakes of the fruit of the tree.
“And as I partook of the fruit of thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.” -1 Nephi 8:12
This tree, which is separated by a river of water, is overlooked by a large and spacious building. The building “stood as it were in the air, high above the earth. And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.” (1 Nephi 12:26-27. Emphasis added.)
Three chapters later, Lehi’s son, Nephi, is shown the same vision, and gains an understanding of the meaning of the things described in Lehi’s vision. The tree represents the love of God, more specifically the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. The rod of iron represents the word of God, or the scriptures and words of the prophets. The great and spacious building represents the pride of the world.
There are several interesting things to note from Lehi’s dream. First, this great building that represents the pride of the world is described as standing “in the air, high above the earth.” There is no foundation to it. The ways of the world have nothing to stand on but their own pride and opinions. Consequently, as Nephi later sees and records, “…and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great.” (1 Nephi 11:36)
Second, many of these people who were once on the path, and many who even partook of the fruit of the tree, or in other words, experienced the love of God, fell captive to social pressures from the people in the great and spacious building, so much so that they wandered away from the tree.
“And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of tree. And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.” -1 Nephi 8:24, 28
There is too much pride in the world. We are allowing ourselves to be influenced by too many outside sources, too many great and spacious buildings filled with people that attempt to pull us away from the love of God, and the relationship we develop with Him as we strive to keep His commandments.
As changes in society’s support towards unmoral and ungodly trends increases, so does the pressure put on those who choose to follow traditional and biblical doctrine. Many members of the Church have questions and concerns, even doubts about their faith. Consequently, many give in and choose a separate path rather than the one that leads toward the tree.
To those who are struggling with questions, concerns, or doubts – Don’t give up. It’s okay to ask questions. It’s asking questions that opens doors for answers and potentially strengthen our faith.
“When adversity comes, don’t let something you don’t fully understand unravel everything you do know. Be patient, cling to truth; understanding will come.” -Elder Kevin W. Pearson
The ways of the world are constantly changing. God’s truth hardly ever overlaps with the trends of society. The ways of the world will continue to change, but God’s ways will never change. Don’t conform to the ways of the world, the trends of society. Rather, allow the love of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ to transform you into the very image that God created you to be – His.