We talked about Alma the Younger today. I wasn't nervous at all this time; in fact, I think I ran off a bit at the mouth because I was so excited. I have never experienced such excitement when reading the scriptures before. I have loved reading them; I have found truths, inspiration, divine words...I have been awed by them too. But excited? Not really.
But now it's like the simple gospel truths that are unfolding before our eyes as we discuss these chapters in the Book of Mormon is better than any movie! I love how reading the scriptures and studying the lessons to be taught reconfirms the gospel and personal truths I have learned in my lifetime; I love how simple and beautiful the gospel really is.
One thing I loved about the account of Alma the younger is the fact that his story is a true testament to the all-encompassing love of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and testimony that the Atonement is indeed for everyone. Alma was a very wicked and idolatrous man; those who knew him in the days before his conversion certainly would have bet a lot of money against the idea of him ever being the president of the church. A charismatic, intelligent, outspoken leader who most certainly must have been eloquent and a good orator...well this is a pattern we see still today. It's a pattern of leaders -- both good and just leaders, and wicked and evil leaders. Alma still posessed these traits after his conversion (which he described as "nigh unto death") but then he used them for good, to correct the wrongs he and the sons of Mosiah made and to dedicate his life to sharing the gospel.
I have noticed that in my life and the people I know. Those who are given these spiritual gifts that would someday enable them to have a remarkable influence on others for good are often the ones Satan works hardest at tearing down. Satan knows those who posess these divine gifts, and seeks to exploit them. Satan, too, wants the intelligent, charismatic, influential leaders on his side. He will do anything to tear those people down. So when I see a charismatic, influential leader who is a truly just person, I rejoice -- because I know what they must have gone through to get to that point in their life.
Alma the Younger is truly to be admired. And look, despite the abhorrent evils he committed, he, too, was promised eternal life! He even became a prophet! This goes to show that we should never give up when we feel we are failing; or that we are too weak; or that we can't handle it; that we will never be "good enough" in the eyes of our loved ones or in the eyes of our God. Those are Satan's tactics. But when we truly are recognize that the Atonement is for all -- and that as often as we repent...no matter how many times we keep making the same mistake...AS OFTEN AS WE REPENT, God will forgive us. "Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me" (Mosiah 26:30).
Imagine that! God will forgive us as often as we repent. In the next verse we are commanded to do the same for each other! It makes such perfect, simple sense! As often as we may fail each other, if we but seek forgiveness and repent..we should forgive....both ourselves for our sins and for others who have trespassed against us.
Another thing we talked about was how the rising generation (that of Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah) did not believe their parents, because they were too little during King Benjamin's reign to understand. Elder Ted L. Gibbons said, "I believe that this is the way it always happens. When people will not obey the word of the Lord, it is not necessarily because they do not want to obey. It is often because they do not understand. And they do not understand because they do not believe."
Isn't this so true! I can recognize that in my own life. I'll pick one I had problems with for a long time. Tithing. I did not understand it. I did not have a testimony of it. I heard talks and I heard the admonition of my prophet to pay my tithing, but it didn't make sense to me, so I didn't do it. I disobeyed because I did not understand. It took me a long time to gain a testimony of tithing...but how did I gain it? No, I didn't suddenly "understand" it. Rather, I swallowed my pride and yes, my idolatry, and I simply started paying it. Since I have done so, the understanding is coming to me. "Line upon line" I am gaining an understanding, but more importantly, I'm gaining a testimony of it.
How many times are we guilty of this! We do not understand a commandment, or a blessing, or the words spoken in our hearts and minds through the spirit. Instead of simply obeying, or having faith that they are true and right, we stumble and we refuse to obey. If it doesn't make sense to us, then why should we do it? Why should we believe it?
Well, I think the answer to that is obvious. We need to flip it around and realize that the understanding only comes AFTER the action of obeying. Understanding is a consequence of obeying, not vice versa. Through faith and obedience we begin to see the remarkable simplicities that are what we call the gospel, and we better understand not only the gospel itself and its truths, but the scriptures, the words of our prophets, and even our own personal revelations, our experiences...even our life and our mission(s).
Oh I can't help it; I'm just so grateful for my new calling. I am learning so much! It is such a wonderful experience and opportunity....it is true when they say that oft times the teacher learns more than the students:)