I took that as a direct challenge and studied chapters 8-15 with new eyes. In doing so I came up with what I'd like to call A Tale of Three Trees.
The Tree that Grows Within
Now, we will compare the word unto a aseed. Now, if ye give place, that a bseed may be planted in your cheart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your dunbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to eenlighten my funderstanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
There is a strait and narrow path which leadeth to the tree of life (1 Nephi 8:20). It is this path we must enter to gain our own testimony of the teachings of our Savior. There are three steps in this process.
First we must commence along the path. "And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree (1 Ne. 8:22)." How do we do this? Alma teaches,
"But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than adesire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words."
Likewise, Nephi showed by example how we must commence.
I, Nephi, was ddesirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the eHoly Ghost, which is the fgift of God unto gall those who diligently seek him, as well in times of hold as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men." (1 Ne. 10:17).
However, if all we do is commence we will be tempted and lost in the mists of darkness (1 Ne. 8:23).
Catch hold & Cling to
Next we must catch hold and cling to the word of God (see 1 Ne. 8:24). Elder Bednar explains his thoughts on what it means to cling as to hold on with one hand or to study the scriptures in spurts rather than with consistency. We are told what will happen to those who only sporadically hold to the rod of iron.
And after they had atasted of the fruit they were bashamed, because of those that were cscoffing at them; and they dfell away into forbidden paths and were lost. (1 Ne. 8:28)"
In Alma we learn that this seed, if not nourished will be scorched,
But if ye aneglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out (Alma 32:38)."
Here I will let Alma and Nephi do all the talking. :-)
And thus we learn that we must continually nourish the seed which is planted within our hearts. And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the atree of life.
When talking about the tree of life, the angel shows Nephi the meaning of the condescension of God, first in His birth (1 Ne 11:16-20) and next in His ministry upon the earth (1 Ne. 11:26-34).
Each week we have the opportunity to experience this love of God as we renew our covenants made in baptism through the sacrament.
"Yea, he saith: aCome unto me and ye shall partake of the bfruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the cbread and the waters of life dfreely; (Alma 5:34).
The Olive Tree
Why did Lehi leave Jerusalem? In 1 Nephi chapter 10 we learn that not only is it because it was a commandment of the Lord but because of a fulfilment to prophecy.
"Wherefore, he said it must needs be that we should be led with one accord into the aland of promise, unto the fulfilling of the word of the Lord, that we should be scattered upon all the face of the earth (v. 13)."
Israel was to be scattered and Nephi reminds his brothers that they also are a part of the house of Israel (see 1 Ne. 15:12).
The first thing Lehi did after partaking of the fruit himself was to look about for his family so he could share the joy he had found. I find it interesting that there is mention of multitudes of people trying to find their way to the path which leads to the tree of life (1 Ne. 8:21). Similarly we are told that Israel shall be gathered and grafted in to the olive tree (1 Ne. 10:14; 15:12-16). People are searching. Once we have partaken of this fruit, of this love of God, it is our responsibility to share it with others.
"And it came to pass that I beckoned unto them; and I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come unto me, and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit (1 Ne. 8:15). To beckon means "to appear inviting." We are to invite, so beckon, and to bring others to Christ. How do we do this? Simply by showing them the same love our Savior has shown us.
President George Albert Smith has said, "Brethren and sisters, if the gospel of Jesus Christ, as delivered to you, has not planted that feeling of love in your hearts for your fellow men, then I want to say that you have not enjoyed the full fruition of that wonderful gift that came to earth when this Church was organized. ...Our ministry is one of love."