By a happy coincidence, I just finished my latest reading of the Book of Mormon. I've made my way through all the introductory stuff and am back at First Nephi, yet again. (How many times has the average adult Mormon read verse 1 of First Nephi? I'm sure it's in the hundreds for me :). Not that I've READ the book that many times, just that I've read the first chapter that many times.)
Since I'm just re-beginning, I thought I'd post my thoughts as I move through the book. It may help me to spend a little more time considering the chapters I read, rather than just getting through my chapters as quickly as I can.
It's nice to come back to a chapter that is so familiar. Nephi has become an old friend over the years. The very first verse makes me think he was a fairly balanced guy...he loved his family, he admits to having hard times, but he is also is pretty positive about how life has been for him. Yes, he had to leave all the money and possessions his family had, wander in the wilderness for years, escape from his brothers who wanted to kill him, but he says he's been "highly favored of the Lord in all my days."
One new thing that hit me this reading was v. 4 and 5. Prophets are telling people they must repent or Jerusalem is going to be destroyed, and that leads Lehi to pray. V.5 says "Lehi prayed with all his heart, in behalf of his people." It was after this heartfelt prayer that Lehi was shown his first vision, which eventually led to the physical salvation of his family from the destruction that hit Jerusalem in just a few years. It seems to me that praying with all our hearts, especially in behalf of others, has a power that we don't always recognize. I wonder if sometimes Lehi was a little daunted by the results of his prayers. It certainly led him into a new life, one very different than that which he expected.
The last verse of chapter 1 is another favorite, and I think an overall theme of the entire Book of Mormon. v. 20: "...I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." This deliverance, in my experience, can be physical, emotional, or spiritual, but is very real. It's not always easy to obtain, but it's possible.