Thursday, October 2, 2014

Alma 22

(October 2, 2014)
                When I was teenager, I had a wart by the cuticle of my ring finger.  This wart was a nasty one – it was big, slightly painful, and I fought it for a period of years before I finally got rid of it.  I would douse it with acid time and again, burn it, freeze it, and hack at it with scissors.  Sometimes I would work it over with acid for a while until it became hard and I thought I could remove it, but as I lifted up the edges and pulled it away I would find that the roots of the wart descended deep into my skin, and pulling it out left those roots which ultimately led to the wart returning.

                I don’t remember exactly how I finally got rid of it (it seemed almost to go away on its own), but that imagery of trying to get rid of my wart came vividly to my mind as I read this chapter – particularly the language about having the wicked spirit rooted out of our breast.  I hear in that phrase an echo to removing the wart.  It is difficult, and it is painful.  It likely won’t be successful the first time, but if I keep attacking it over and over and over again eventually (maybe without even knowing why) the roots will come out and I will be healed.

                I have attacked certain character flaws over and over and over again in my life.  I lost so many battles that my confidence in myself was badly shaken, and I began to see myself in a manner much different than I know the Lord sees me.  But even when things were overwhelmingly difficult and seemingly hopeless, I continued to dig at my ‘wart’ – to attack it with scissors (willpower), to douse it with acid (scripture study), to burn it off (temple attendance), and to freeze it (prayer).  Finally, last November, I finally seem to have gotten my ‘wart’ out, roots and all.

                Since that time, I have found myself strong enough to attack my second-biggest ‘wart,’ and I found it came out remarkably easy (I have long worried about this ‘wart’).  It came out so smoothly, and the benefits for removing it were so high, that I have turned with excitement to excising my third-biggest ‘wart’ (and this one is painful!).  But I am happy to be going through the process, and I am not discouraged by the difficulty or the pace.

                The other thought I had was a geographical one.  Many people look at the primary problem of the Mesoamerican model for the Book of Mormon to be that the narrow neck of land is north-south rather than east-west.  But looking at the actual words in this chapter, it never says the sea east to the sea west.  It says from the east to the west sea.  We know that the east is not synonymous with the east sea, because Mormon tells us that the Nephites occupy all the land from the east to the west sea, but the Lamanites occupy the east by the seashore.  So “the east” means something other than the land my the east sea.  Instead, it must mean that there is a region call the east – one edge of which abuts the east sea, but a large portion of it does not.  This area must be large enough that Lamanites and Nephites could both occupy “the east” with some degree of separation.

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