When Nephi and his brothers take a long time to return from Jerusalem with the plates, their mother understandably worries about them. I deeply empathize with Sariah and her agony over the children that she fears are lost.
On this reading though I was struck by Lehi’s response when he is called a visionary man. He responds that had he not had his vision, he would have perished in Jerusalem. In contrast, “behold, I have obtained a land of promise, in the which things I do rejoice; yea, and I know that the Lord will deliver my sons out of the hands of Laban, and bring them down again unto us in the wilderness.”
Notice the tense of the bolded text. Lehi is still in the wilderness by the Red Sea. Their journey to the promised land has not yet begun. Nevertheless, Lehi has such confidence in the promises of God that he speaks in the past tense as if he had already been to the promised land.
This confidence has a spiritual application for each of us as well. Even though we must endure faithfully to the end, we have already received the promise of eternal life in the promised land of God’s celestial kingdom. We can here and now experience the blessings of our celestial promise. We can have peace of mind and conscience. We can have strength of conviction. And we experience pieces of that promised land through worship in the temple and through our service. Even though we are still far away from the promised land, we too can speak as if we are already there.