Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Not a Disadvantage

I’ve always been impressed with how the Nephites welcomed and even embraced the Anti-Nephi Lehi’s when they came to them for help. They gave them land to dwell on, and defended these new converts with their armies. Now, I’m sure not every Nephite was thrilled to give up land to those who may have been responsible for the deaths of many Nephite people. I imagine that some of the fathers and/or brothers might have been slain by those who now were living on their land, or, possibly, in their homes. It must have been a difficult adjustment, but the Nephites did it. If they had held onto anger or resentment, they must have prayed that Father would give them power to forgive. I say this because when they are all threatened again by the Lamanites and the Anti-Nephi Lehis are about to break their oath and fight, look what happens. The sons of these covenant men step up to defend their people and the Nephites so their fathers don’t break their promise to God. The Nephites don’t say, “Well, it is about time you all started to pull your own weight around here. You know how many of our people have died just because we’ve had to babysit you?” No, they view their situation much differently. “And now behold, as they never had hitherto been a disadvantage to the Nephites, they became now at this period of time also a great support…” (Alma 53:19). I learn several lessons from both groups of people. First, how amazing that the Nephites were willing to give everything to protect and care for those who were their former enemies. These Nephites took their own covenants seriously. Because they were followers of Christ, they offered all they had to the Lord. As a result, they didn’t view those who needed their help as inconvenient or a problem they wish would go away. They gave all for them. Now, that is real charity. The anti-Nephi Lehis teach me that part of being a covenant keeper is allowing others to serve me. I might think I am troubling those who offer their help, but, when some one needs my help, that’s not how I view them. I serve and must be willing to be served. Of course, allowing some one to bring me dinner or fold my clothes is nothing compared to allowing them to protect my life and the lives of my family like the Anti-Nephi Lehis did, but the concept is the same. When we make a covenant to give all to the Lord, we also covenant to receive the Help other people offer.

Monday, October 14, 2013

All You Can do is Cry

I recently spoke in Washington State, and met so many wonderful women at the event. Each person who came to shake my hand seemed to be carrying very heavy burdens. One woman, in particular, has stayed on my mind. She was crying before she could even explain her situation. Her four –month- old daughter has just been diagnosed as being blind. I held her as she shook with tragic sadness. There had been many health complications, and now her baby would never see. She was embarrassed for falling apart, but I explained that she should go ahead and cry. She was worried about her baby, and worried about her future. I knew from experience that part of the sadness comes from a loss of your hopes and dreams. She was feeling loss on so many levels, and sometimes crying is all you can do. “You’ve had a good life. Haven’t you?” she asked in desperation. “Absolutely!” was my answer. Even with all the horrible things that have happened in my life, I have had a great life! Much of the good has come because my mother taught me the doctrines of Jesus Christ. I told her that her daughter, too, would be alright. She would have a fantastic life. I encouraged her to do as my mother had done, teach her sweet girl that Christ was there to help her with each step. I felt her emotionally square her shoulders and pull herself together in a resolve to do this for her daughter. This hurting woman walked away with a little more hope. Of course, all the problems were still there, but it seemed that she felt Christ there as well. I know that all of us face such difficult things. I also know that the atonement is for the pain that each of us carries. There is hope, and life is still worth living.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Planting the Standard

I can’t stand him! Every time I read the account of Amalickiah in The Book of Mormon, I get so irritated by him. He causes so many problems, and even thousands of deaths, due to his own pride. Because of his desire for power and authority over the people, he flatters and persuades many of them to follow him and to make him king. Dissenters, who refuse to follow the current system of judges, play right into Amalickiah’s plan. Now, when Moroni, the captain of the Nephite army, sees the people growing wicked and following this nasty man, he rallies them to repent and fight for their liberty. They probably don’t even see their liberty in danger, but Moroni does. Perhaps these verses are familiar to you: “And it came to pass that he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole. “And he fastened on his head-plate, and his breastplate, and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called it the title of liberty) and he bowed himself to the earth, and he prayed mightily unto his God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as there should a band of Christians remain to possess the land—“ (Alma 46:12-13). This has always been the focal point of this story for me, but today, when I read it, something else stood out. He didn’t just proclaim these principles and reasons for fighting, He, “planted the standard of liberty among the Nephites” (v. 36). He “planted” the standard. That is an interesting verb to use. It is intentional, on purpose, an action with anticipation of growth. When I plant a seed, I expect it to grow and produce. I care for it. I remove weeds which threaten its progress. I give it light and water to nourish it so that it has the optimum growing environment. Moroni’s actions were intentional. He had the standard of liberty raised on every tower so it would be seen, and act as a reminder and encouragement for the people to fight against the threat. I’m sure Moroni wanted the standard planted more than just on the towers or on poles in the ground. I’m certain he wanted and prayed for the standards on his torn coat to be planted in the hearts of his people. But, it was up to the individuals and families to take the standard he presented, and plant it in their lives and hearts. It’s only then that they would fight with all their might. I think about these same standards, and other truths I am taught. Are they planted within me? Do I nourish them so they grow? Or, do I neglect them, thinking they are fine? Do I intentionally protect gospel truths so that religious liberty is maintained? Do I plant the standard of liberty in my children’s hearts, in my home? Moroni probably had no idea that thousands of years after his fight against Amalickiah’s tyranny, his actions would affect me; however, his “planting” of his standard has awakened in me a desire to more firmly plant my standards within my own heart.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Out of Ashes

In the General Relief Society broadcast last week, Sister Reaves’ description of the Provo Tabernacle stood out to me. She spoke of how it was nearly gutted three years ago by a fire. “Why didn’t God stop this from happening?” she said some might ask. He could have. That is for sure. But, he didn’t. Now, what is left of the structure is being renovated and rebuilt into a temple of God. It will no longer be a pile of ashes inside. It will be a place of beauty, a place where holy covenants are made, and a house of God. This is so fantastic! Isn’t it interesting how we don’t have all the answers, or even part of the vision the Lord has? In our own lives we might wonder why he allows things to happen. Why let suffering occur?? Although Father doesn’t necessarily send all the hard things our way, he can use them for our good and growth. Like the Provo Tabernacle’s change into a holy temple, we too can change. We can become a place of holiness. Even out of our ashes, we can be made beautiful, renovated, and rebuilt. When we experience life’s flames, we can trust that through the power of Christ’s atonement, we will become what and who he knows we can become. Her talk can be found at www.broadcast .lds.org.