Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Lesson From Alma

Prompted by an email from a brother, I came across two marvelous verses from Alma, 21:39 and 21:41. As is my practice, I read the preceding verses and those that followed to the end of the chapter and refreshed my memory on some of the principal figures.

The essence of the story is that Helaman and his priests had appointed priests and teachers over the churches. They, in turn grew prideful and would no longer heed the words of the Lord. This got everybody upset and finally a leader arose to lead the lower ranking against the preaching’s and person of Helaman. This leader, Amalickiah, having gained power mostly by flattery of the lesser priests was creating serious dissension among the Nephites. Moroni then comments in verse 39:

“Yea, and to seek to destroy the church of God, and to destroy the foundation of liberty which god had granted unto them, or which blessing God had sent upon the face of the land, for the righteous’ sake.”

That about nails what Amalickiah was up to. He failed to recognize what kind of man Moroni was and his ability to energize those surrounding him and their righteousness. To really see Moroni in action, we go to verse 40:

“And it came to pass that he rent his coat, and he took a piece therof, and wrote upon it. In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives and our children; and he fastened it upon the end of a pole therof.”

He then “armored up” in full warrior’s regalia, donned the rent garment, and prayed mightily. This man was a leader. In seventeen words he covered everything that is important to those who have taken on the name of Christ. In so doing, he preordained the outcome of the entire chapter. It’s a great story of a man who after those dramatic words did not stand back for God to take over and provide victory but did, with His help, all that was necessary to ensure it. It’s a great story. Read the chapter to the end.

Throughout our scriptures, God has provided many lessons and inspiring stories of past great leaders. Often, in the face of apparent overwhelming odds, with God’s guidance and blessings, these men managed to prevail. How often have I heard a close friend preach to the equation that one plus God equals a majority. This story about Moroni and many others emphasize the point.

The adversary has never been stronger. We are assailed from every quarter by those who would demean, confuse, and ultimately attempt to defeat those of us who love the Lord and seek to have His kingdom in our midst. It is my opinion we are threatened here and now as Moroni was of old. Will we rend our garments and raise the gospel message for all to see and carry the fight to the adversary? Do we understand and desire that which Moroni was fighting for? We do not struggle for property or riches in an earthly vein, but rather, we seek the full richness of the kingdom of God.

At Sunday services, we have a pew right in the center of the church which is occupied by four or five beautiful ladies. These faithful souls hear every offered word. They contribute their entire being to enhance the worship experience. They nod encouragement to a faltering preacher. There extensive knowledge of the scriptures is always available to be remembered to help out our Sunday school class. Their memories of their husbands, now long departed, glisten in their eyes. They are quick to welcome newcomers and greet old friends. Would I, or would you shame their record of years of obedient service to their God? For that matter could we ever again look in the eyes of our precious children if we failed to glorify our Savior and strive with all our heart to do his will?

I know it’s hard to visualize either group as an army. I recently witnessed a baptism of a nine-year-old and chanced to see the older group out of the corner of my eye. It would be impossible for me to say who was the happiest on this glorious occasion. On that day, the adversary was vanquished. We had not raised a flag of surrender but rather helped Moroni raise that piece of his garment.

In His abiding love,

Cecil Moon

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