(April 5, 2015)
For some reason, a large number of thoughts came to me as I was reading this chapter today. The first was the Anti-Nephi-Lehis, and how their behavior and decisions were a good template for repentance. Sometimes in my life there is the desire to repent, but I likewise want to just take a step or two back from the behavior I was previously engaged in. To use a fictitious example, it is as if I want to repent of eating donuts but I still want to spend may days eating scones…or tiptoeing up to donut-holes.
But rather than stepping back gradually, I have learned that repentance works best when I step completely back. If I want to repent of eating donuts, I forego donuts, donut-holes, scones, bear claws, éclairs, and on and on. Rather than identifying the law and getting close to the edge, I have to identify the principle and move far from the edge. That is the only way that I have discovered that repentance works for me. When I do that, the Lord seems to accept my offering and frees me from my sins.
The second thought was the faith involved in praising God in the very act of perishing under the sword. I think we would all like to believe that we could do that, but I fear how I would respond under similar circumstances. We need only look at the butchery of those killed by the Islamofascist terrorists to understand the fear and pain of those going through such and experience. What this shows me, though, is what sort of conversion is possible if we fully and completely give ourselves to the Lord – I may not be there yet, but it is possible to be there.
My third thought was on the reasons why those once enlightened by the Spirit become more hardened when they turn away from it. We each have weaknesses and fail on a regular basis to follow the Lord as we should. But there seems to be a difference in how the Lord treats weakness and how He treats rebellion. Two sinners engaged in the same actions can be treated remarkably different (and I base this solely on my experiences of committing the same sins under different circumstances). When the sinner wants to keep the commandments and fails, the Lord seems to pour out His Spirit more abundantly to reinforce and strengthen the sinner. When the sinner openly rebels against God, the Spirit withdraws. The sinner is more hardened because they know what they are choosing against.