Friday, September 26, 2014

Alma 16

(September 26, 2014)
                Zoram, for what little we know of him from the Book of Mormon, is an impressive character.  Leaving aside the obvious fact that he raised a pair of sons who would go on to become heroes in their own rights (an accomplishment worthy of mention), we see that even though he was the military leader of the time, he still trusted in the Lord to fight his battles.

                In my life, I see something good or something that I think I want, and I do what I can to get the result that I think is right.  I am learning (more slowly than I should) that this isn’t the right way to be.  There are things properly in my control and things properly outside of my control.  I am learning to let go of the things that I should not control (no matter how important to me and no matter how “obvious” it may seem to me that the end result is good).

                I cannot say for certain, but I think almost no one wakes up in the morning to be a villain or to choose wrongly or to perform evil – as Orson Scott Card says, we are all the heroes of our own stories.  And yet, though we may each set out with different goals in mind that we think are good, if they are outside of our stewardships or outside of our control (and that, frankly, amounts to most everything) we are far better off surrendering the control we really don’t have to the Lord and letting Him do His work.

                Zoram did that.  He had a goal, which was to rescue the people kidnapped by the Lamanites.  This was clearly a worthwhile goal, but it was also something that was outside of his control.  Rather than take actions relying on the arm of flesh, he went to the Lord to get direction as to what He wanted Zoram to do.  Once he received counsel from the Lord, Zoram had a stewardship – he had been told what to do by the Lord and by completing that stewardship he was able to see the results that the Lord wanted and Zoram wanted.

                When there is something that I want, even when it is “good” (in my mind) and even if it is “important,” I must remember to always take things to the Lord.  I must surrender my desires to control a particular result, and instead simply take the matter to Him for His guidance on what he wants me to do.  Zoram could not rescue the kidnapped people on his own, and he could not do it if the Lord did not want them rescued.  Likewise, no matter how important something is, I cannot accomplish it on my own and I cannot accomplish it if the result is not what the Lord wants.  I instead need to focus on my marching orders from the Lord (where He wants me to go and what He wants me to do), following those orders with exactness, and leaving the ultimate course of the battle to His hands to reach the result that He wants.

                One other brief thought I had as I was reading – sometimes I think we think that calamities are always brought about by wickedness.  Doctrinally I know that isn’t true, but I am still tempted when something goes really wrong to wonder how I have screwed up to make the situation so bad.  To be fair, that is often the cause of the disasters in my life, but not all of them.  In this chapter, we read that much inequality had been put down among the Nephites (especially those converted to the Lord), and the preaching of the sons of Mosiah converted a large number of Lamanites, but those two factors together led largely to war.  Not wickedness on the part of the people struggling through war, but wickedness in the people around them.

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