The Meaning of the Tree

Over the past few days I have felt a lot like Nephi. In 1 Nephi 8, he abridges his father’s dream of the tree of life. Then, a little later in the eleventh chapter, he describes pondering in his heart the things that his father had related to the family, and being visited by the Spirit of the Lord. When asked, “What desirest thou?”, Nephi’s reply was simply, “To know the interpretation thereof.”  Knowing that I wanted to write about Lehi’s dream for our classroom studies this week, I have been pondering upon Nephi’s written word, trying to find a new lesson to be learned. Digging deeper than the half dozen often-cited lessons extracted from this dream, I have come to the same crossroads as Nephi, I just want to know what the words mean for me – to know the interpretation thereof.

In his dream, Lehi describes a tree standing in the middle of a large and spacious field. Approaching the tree and partaking of its fruit, he is enlightened as to its deliciousness and how desirable it is above all other fruit. He looks around and beckons his family to come forward and taste of it. Later, when Nephi is being shown his father’s dream, the Spirit of the Lord asks him, “Knowest thou the meaning of the tree?” Nephi’s inspired response is, “Yea, it is the love of God…it is the most desirable above all things.” The Spirit then follows up with, “Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.”

Lehi, the Spirit of the Lord and Nephi, are all trying to describe to us that the love of God is more desirable and joyous above everything else in this world. The taste of the fruit of the tree is described by both Lehi and Nephi as being “sweet, above all that I before tasted.” Think back on the juiciest strawberry that you’ve ever bit into; or maybe it was an orange that just squirted everywhere because of the abundance of sweet juice. Imagine the crispness of the perfectly ripened apple; or the perfect watermelon on a hot day. Lehi and Nephi were both trying to describe the love of God as being sweeter than all of these – trying to liken it to something to which we could better relate. Indeed, sweet is the love of God!

Backing up a few verses, one of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon (thanks to a John Bytheway talk!) is found in 1 Nephi 11:17. Answering a question about a very important future event, Nephi declared, “I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” I get a lot of comfort when I am pondering upon the scriptures, knowing that I do not have to fully understand everything that I am reading. Yet at the same time, I can also have the assurance to know that my Heavenly Father loves His children – including me! Looking beyond the iron rod, the great and spacious building, the straight and narrow path, the mist of darkness, I have found a new lesson for me in Lehi’s dream. If I will but ponder upon the written word, truly desiring to know the interpretation thereof, I can feel the love of God in my life, and the meaning of these important scriptures will be made known to my mind and heart. The tree does indeed bring sweetness into our lives!

1 Comment

Filed under Seminary

One response to “The Meaning of the Tree

  1. Rachel

    “To know the interpretation thereof”–that is the million dollar question! The beauty of the Gospel is that, while the answer is often the same for everyone, it is often multifaceted and the meaning is immensely personal. We relate our life experience to those answers, and it creates a unique understanding of the Gospel. The more we seek “the interpretation thereof,” regarding the teachings of the Savior, the deeper our roots grow. Those roots give us the strength to face the trials of our lives. May we all desire “to know the interpretation thereof” and to strengthen our testimonies!

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