Monday, October 6, 2014

Alma 27-29

(October 6, 2014)
                There are times when likening the scriptures to ourselves is difficult, but there are other times when it is so easy as to almost have the likening ‘leap’ off the page.  This was one of those times.  I have found myself in a position where I feel much like the Anit-Nephi-Lehis.  I have made mistakes in my past – including significant and serious sins.  I have since been converted, and I have left behind those sins and I am attempting to forge a new life as a disciple of Christ.  Like them, it was all I could do to repent of my sins, but thanks to the mercies of God I have found myself forgiven and somehow within the arms of His Grace.

                Like the Anti-Nephi-Lehis, I also find myself in a quandary.  I have those around me who refuse to repent themselves.  They actively seek my destruction.  In many ways, it would be easier for me if I was simply to leave (metaphorically) and find a new home among people who do not seek to condemn me.  But I worry about leaving as well.  I have been assured that restitution for my past mistakes is only required where it would be accepted, and it does not seem that restitution is wanted or forgiveness is forthcoming.

                Every logical voice seems to tell me to leave this situation.  I have been counseled by a number of people who I trust, and who are in a position to know, that unless changes can be made over which I have no control then I will be left with no choice but to leave.  But there are consequences to that – innocent parties who will be damaged by a choice to leave.  

                Ideally there would be repentance both ways, and restitution both ways, and things would be healed.  But I don’t see that happening.  And so I find myself in the position of Anti-Lehi-Nephi, speaking with Ammon.  Like the king, I am willing to stay and die (again, metaphorically).  I am willing to have those who seek my destruction have their way.  If that is what is required to be right with the Lord, then I will do so gratefully – the Lord has reached down and plucked me out of my sins and there is no cost that would be too great to pay.

                I don’t want to stay in a hopeless situation forever, though.  But I don’t want to leave if the situation is not hopeless.  And either way (hopeless or not hopeless) depends on circumstances beyond my control and which I have no knowledge of (and no ability to acquire knowledge of).  It depends on whether others are willing to repent and forgive – while it seems thus far that they are not, I cannot imagine how I would know that they will or will not.

                And so, I am in a position where my only possible choice is to seek out revelation.  The Lord knows whether I should stay or whether I should leave.  He knows if there is hope or no hope.  I want to walk the path of discipleship, and He knows whether that path continues where I am or diverges another way.  He alone knows the answers to these questions.  It is not a matter of me making a decision, because such a decision is ultimately beyond my capacity to make.  Instead, I need revelation – there is no other option for me.

                The other thought I had was on the mourning of those who had those they loved who died in the wars that had true reason to mourn because they had reason to fear that they were lost forever because of their sins.  The interesting thing about that is that they would only mourn in that fashion if they had a testimony themselves – it was an example of a believer mourning for the loss that an unbeliever suffered.  It wasn’t a temporary loss, such as an economic setback or even death.  It was a real, true, permanent loss.

                I feel the weight of facing such a real, true, permanent loss right now in my life.  I see others making decisions that will have real, true, permanent consequences and I see no way to help, and I understand that mourning.  I understand the pain of seeing others make decisions that will be unalterable and eternal and counterproductive.  And, like the Nephites and Ammonites, there is nothing that I can do about it because ultimately they have the capacity and agency to make their own decisions (despite desires to blame me for everything, they have their agency).

                But I suppose that just feeds in to the last point of the post – there will always (throughout all eternity) be those we love who make bad choices and who will ultimately suffer the consequences of their own choices.  Think of Heavenly Father, and how for all of eternity He will be seeing those He loves make choices that take them away from Him.  Think of Alma – a prophet of God, who wishes that he was able to inspire more people to repent.  Agency is a difficult doctrine – especially when those you love are making choices that are leading them to destruction.  But agency is also precious doctrine – and if the Lord finds it important enough to die for then each of us had best defend it even when it is used incorrectly.

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