Wherefore, I, Nephi, to be obedient to the commandments of the Lord, went and made these plates upon which I have engraven these things. (2 Nephi 5:31)
Nephi's choice of words is interesting: "to be obedient." He was already keeping one set of plates, which I understand was no easy task due to the effort required to cut words into brass. I'm sure he felt that was sufficient. Then the Lord asks him to make a second set.
Nephi doesn't say, "I'm doing this because the Lord told me to make a second set of plates, so Joseph will have a fall back when he loses the first 116 pages." He doesn't say he's doing it because the Lord assured him it was for wise and necessary purposes. He says he's doing it to be obedient.
To me, it feels like Nephi was puzzled by this request, that he could not fathom a reason for it, but nevertheless, he complied simply "to be obedient."
How many times do we refuse to comply with the requests and commandments of the Lord because we do not understand why He wants us to do it?
It happens all the time. People choose to watch R-rated movies because they cannot see the harm in it. Teenagers choose to date before they turn 16 because everyone else is doing it and will a few days or weeks or months really make that much of a difference? We get tattoos and piercings because what does that have to do with morality anyway—it's just a fashion statement, no different from dying my hair or growing a beard. We do not understand the reasons behind the request, so we do not comply; we do not obey simply for the sake of obedience.
But I did once. I took out my second earring when the prophet said to do so. I don't know why. It makes no sense to me. It has no relevance to morality or goodness. But I did it "to be obedient," and for no other reason.
Is my life differenct because of that? I don't know. I like to think that perhaps I have received blessings from that act of faith, even though I do not know what they are. I wonder if I had refused to obey and justified that earring, if I would be sitting here today typing this as a testimony of faith, or if that justification would have led to another and another, distancing me from God.
I do not know. But what I do know is that I want to be like Nephi. I want to follow the Lord in all things, "to be obedient."