1 Nephi 8
8 And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies.
9 And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field.
10 And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.
I’m struck by the sequence here. It is only after Lehi calls on God that he begins to see the field and the tree. Until then he is in darkness. It is God’s grace and condescension that allows him to even become aware of his goal.
I think that’s true in our lives. So many in the modern world are walking in darkness but they do not even realize that there is darkness. They are like those in Plato’s analogy of the Cave. It is only when they call upon God that they realize that they need to escape from the darkness. Christ was a light that came into a dark world so that people would know that they must choose between darkness and light and that they must seek light.
It seems that Levi’s sons and many of the people aren’t even aware of the tree or the building until taught or until they call out to god. Nephi’s description of those “feeling” their way towards the building is telling. Many of those feeling their way to the building may not even see it or know of it. Yet the desires of their hearts cause them to drift closer and closer to the building and further and further away from God.
Those who reached the tree and then fell away had no such excuse. They had seen and tasted from the tree. They had chosen the ways of God and then fell away. Once we have made covenants with god we are no longer on neutral ground.