Sunday, May 28, 2017

What the Angel Said...

What the angel said to Alma the Younger when he appeared to him is insightful into how God operates. This is the significant text in its entirety: 

“Mosiah 27:14 And again, the angel said: Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith. 

15 And now behold, can ye dispute the power of God? For behold, doth not my voice shake the earth? And can ye not also behold me before you? And I am sent from God.

16 Now I say unto thee: Go, and remember the captivity of thy fathers in the land of Helam, and in the land of Nephi; and remember how great things he has done for them; for they were in bondage, and he has delivered them. And now I say unto thee, Alma, go thy way, and seek to destroy the church no more, that their prayers may be answered, and this even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off.”

What struck me most as I studied this, this morning, is while his father wanted Alma to change, to be different, the angel doesn’t force him. He just explains what's at stake. He shows him God’s power. Then he encourages him to remember what God has done for his fathers. He closes with a warning that his fate is tied to his choice.

It’s a lesson in God’s recognition of our agency. It's also a clear warning that while we have our agency, we are also inextricably bound to the consequences of how we use it.

A corollary to this theme is a quote by Elder Renlund where he says, and I’m summarizing, God’s love for us is perfect, not unconditional. In this context, unconditional implies he doesn’t care what we do. In reality God cares a lot about our actions and choices. The “perfect” part of it is He never quits. He is always focused on helping us become our best, happiest selves.

The cool part of the story is many years later, the same angel appears to Alma to give him an assignment and encouragement. In my opinion, the angel enjoyed that second visit much more than the first.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Drops of Oil

When speaking with news anchor Katie Couric after landing his airliner on the Hudson River, Chesley Sullenberger said, “One way of looking at this might be that for 42 years, I've been making small, regular deposits in this bank of experience, education and training. And on January 15, 2009, the balance was sufficient so that I could make a very large withdrawal.”

The Parable of the 10 Virgins, found in Matt 25:1-13, is a powerful lesson and warning that we must be vigilant with our spiritual preparation too. These two themes fit together. There’s another aviation saying that applies: “Flying is hours of boredom, punctuated by moments of terror.”

Our lives can be looked at the same way. We live our day to day lives making small deposits to our spiritual reserves accompanied by small withdrawals. In this mode, we go on, perhaps for weeks, months and even years. Then, when we’re not expecting it, we face the moment when we must draw on all our experience and spiritual reserves to survive. And by survive I mean our enduring a trial with our faith in God and Jesus Christ intact when we come out the other side.

That we will have such trials is certain. What we do to prepare for them is up to us and if we prepare daily… easily done. The promise of Helaman 5:12 is that by so preparing we will survive.