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.

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