“Getting light and truth from God is obtained through experiences. It is experiential rather than academic. Feeling comes before seeing, hearing, and touching... Anecdotal proof is what you must be willing to accept throughout this process. Your own experiences are going to be your guide.” The Second Comforter Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil Pg 38
When Nephi was caught away in the spirit of the Lord, (1Nephi 11: 1) it was only after a process by which he had learned by his own firsthand experience to comfortably converse with God. He had become proficient at the process by which a curiosity or "desire" was converted into belief. Then, belief became faith as Nephi learned to act on things God told him. By learning to distinguish when God was speaking to Him, Nephi was able to conform his actions into obedience to what he was told. Obedience to everything he heard from God led Nephi to God's presence. This happened naturally as Nephi obeyed because that is what God does. He leads us to Him. There is no other ultimate purpose for God's communications to us.
If we, like Nephi, can first learn to listen, then develop the resolve to do what we are told, when we are told, we will be led to His presence just like Nephi was. All Nephi really did was obey laws (D&C 130: 20-21) that could have no other result than to lead to a face-to-face encounter with the Lord. Obedience to the directions we receive from the Lord produce results that are as sure as the result that happens when a lit match is tossed on a spot of gasoline. Eternal law dictates the resulting combustion. It cannot be avoided if the law is kept. (D&C 82: 10)
From The Second Comforter Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil:
"That is our challenge..to consistently perform In a way we know will please God. Knowing what will please God is not difficult. Mustering the will to do so is where the difficulty arises. Just because the task becomes difficult or awkward, it does not change whether God has commanded the task... If you know Gods will, you must do it. For the necessary faith to seize hold upon Gods blessings can be obtained in no other way." (Second Comforter pg. 84)
Eventually, Nephi stood over his inebriated and passed out cousin Laban with Laban's own sword in his hands. By the time of this encounter with Laban, Nephi had not only been "visited" by the Lord as in his first faith building experience when his “heart was softened,” (1Nephi 2: 16), but he had begun to hear the Lord speaking to him in his mind. (1Nephi 2: 19-24) Then, Nephi's record shows the following conversation between Nephi and the spirit of the Lord. The thing required of Nephi seemed to be counter to every feeling of civility, righteousness, and humanity. Nephi, like us when we are commanded, was expected to listen, hearken, and obey. Faith comes in no other way.
1Nephi 4: 10-18
1Nephi 4: 10-18
Spirit: Kill Laban
Nephi: never at any time have I shed the blood of man
Spirit: behold the lord hath delivered him into thy hands
Nephi: I knew he had sought to take away mine own life; he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord; he also had taken away our property.
Spirit: Slay him for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands; behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in un belief.
Nephi: I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto me in the wilderness, saying that: Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise. Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law. And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass. And again, I knew that the Lord had delivered Laban into my hands for this cause—that I might obtain the records according to his commandments.
Nephi: Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword.
This conversational interchange between Nephi and God illustrates how patiently God leads us through a process of reasoning and persuasion in order to get us to respond. It is a demonstration of how priesthood authority ought to be used by those seeking to provoke action and results from those they lead. (D&C 121: 41-42)
The Lord's way is nearly never, "my way or the highway." Even in something as momentous as the killing of Laban in order to acquire the brass plates, the Lord sought to reason, to persuade, and to lead the mind of Nephi to a righteous conclusion. “Persuasion” is an eternal priesthood principle. (D&C 50: 10-12)
10 And now come, saith the Lord, by the Spirit, unto the elders of his church, and let us reason together, that ye may understand;
11 Let us reason even as a man reasoneth one with another face to face.
12 Now, when a man reasoneth he is understood of man, because he reasoneth as a man; even so will I, the Lord, reason with you that you may understand.
Your conversations with the Lord will very likely include reasoning and persuasion of the kind Nephi experienced. It will be important for you to know when this is happening, and when it does happen to you, you must obey, quickly. Because, "Knowing what will please God is not difficult. Mustering the will to do so is where the difficulty arises." (Second Comforter Pg 84) Further, “Keeping Christ’s commandments is not just incidental to the path back to Him. It is the path back. There is nothing optional about it.” (Second Comforter Pg 47)
In the process of building your faith in order to bring you to Him, He will require some things that are difficult. It has to be this way in order that He may try you and prove you. If you shrink or pull back at such a moment, the Lord's purposes cannot be fulfilled in you. You may be asked to suffer embarrassment, poverty, rejection, hatred, reviling, belittling, illness, disease, or any one of a thousand other situations that will try your resolve to do what the Lord requires. But, be of good cheer, obey every word that proceeds forth from the mouth of God, (D&C 84: 44) because, as Joseph Smith said,
"When the Lord has thoroughly proved him and finds that the man is determined to serve him at all hazard. Then the man will find his calling and election made sure. Then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter which the Lord hath promised the saints."
If Nephi had failed to follow through at every command, the second comforter may have eluded him forever.