Lehi’s Dream in the First Book of Nephi in the Book of Mormon is often depicted in art made by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The dream, as told by Lehi and later his son Nephi, includes references to a “strait and narrow path,” “a rod of iron,” “the tree of life” and “a great and spacious building.” Stephen Mendenhall spoke about Lehi’s dream and themes of light in his BYU-Idaho devotional address on August 30, 2022.
Mendenhall said he is creating a composite video of Lehi’s Dream. In the unfinished video, his daughter is holding onto the Iron Rod and walking toward the Tree of Life with the Great and Spacious Building to her left. However, as Mendenhall read and reread the story, he realized the use of the word “strait,” which means rigorous or difficult, rather than “straight.” That’s when he changed how he showed the path.
“This led me to create a rather steep path, with several bends and rocky steps,” Mendenhall said.
He also realized that as he began to animate the people inside of the building he began to feel “deep compassion for them” and began to love them.
“Maybe because this time I was creating them myself, and our Heavenly Father allowed me a small glimpse of what He feels as our creator. His love,” he said.
He taught that as he began to think about these people, he wondered if it was too late for them to return to the strait and narrow path and he began to think about the people he loves. He realized that through the atonement of Jesus Christ, it’s never too late to return to the fold.
Mendenhall says he also started to think about how he should light the scene, especially the Tree of Life and the Great and Spacious Building. He decided to light them differently, an artificial-looking light for the building and a more natural-looking light for the tree.
“So, for me, the source of light has always been through my Savior. And no matter how that’s manifested. It could be the loving embrace of someone close to me. Or it could be a thought that comes to mind. Or it could be how that day went. But that would all come back to the Savior. I think through Jesus Christ and his atonement, we have access to very unique blessings regardless of how that comes to you,” Mendenhall said in an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio.
Mendenhall also taught about repentance. He said one of the Hebrew words for sin is “chet,” which means to “miss the mark.” In terms of archery, he said, Christ becomes our coach and mentor to help us hit the mark.
“In other words, the atonement of Christ isn’t used to just overcome sin retroactively but is a strengthening power to combat sin proactively,” he said in the devotional.