Monday, September 28, 2015

People are stubborn

People are stubborn... and hard-hearted. It's true now and it has been true throughout all time. I'd like to believe that there is goodness at the basic core of man, and I don't intend to change my mind about that (it would make me lose heart) but I try to put myself in Mormon's shoes. It would be dang near impossible to not want to smack those people upside the head.

Let me show you.

And I did cry unto this people, but it was in vain; and they did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them, and granted unto them a chance for repentance. And behold they did harden their hearts against the Lord their God.

See? Hard-hearted. The Lord had spared them. Mormon could see it, but the people couldn't. And not only could they not see it, they hardened their hearts more!

Here's a question. Does the Lord change his mind? Can he? Is he allowed? Actually, I don't think he changes his mind at all. I think he has a plan, but he doesn't tell us the plan from the beginning. He only gives us bits and pieces, so it looks like he's changed the plan, when in reality, he's just given us a chance to grow up, mature, learn, and listen better. Then he gives us the next piece of the plan. He's dealing with immature souls here. I think it's pretty loving of him to do it this way. So... back to verse 2 and to why I asked this question in the first place.

And it came to pass that the Lord did say unto me: Cry unto this people—Repent ye, and come unto me, and be ye baptized, and build up again my church, and ye shall be spared.

In the beginning of Mormon chapter 3 (which is what we're studying today) Mormon commands the people to fortify their cities because he knows the Lamanites haven't turned peaceful, aren't tending their homes and gardens, and living the law of consecration. They are preparing to come back and beat the crap out of the Nephites. Mormon wants his people prepared, even if they are stubborn, hard-hearted doofuses.

But now he's also commanded by the Lord to preach to them! To call them to repentance and to be baptized! Remember in chapter one that he was commanded NOT to preach repentance to them? Why now? What changed? Well, Mormon is no longer 15. He's a man. He's their leader. They respect him. Maybe they'll listen. And maybe the Lord, in all his mercy, wants to give them one more chance to change. He already knows if they will or won't though, but Mormon doesn't. That's the interesting thing here. Maybe it was to hold the people accountable, one last time, and to give those who had grown up and were finally at an age of accountability, a chance to choose. He wanted them to know that if they repented, the Lord would spare them. It was a promise and the Lord keeps his promises always. And maybe it was also to prove to Mormon that there weren't any honorable men or women left to save. Seriously. None.

I want to look at verse 3 again.

And I did cry unto this people, but it was in vain; and they did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them, and granted unto them a chance for repentance. And behold they did harden their hearts against the Lord their God.

What does it mean to "cry" unto the people? Was it knocking on doors, looking nice and spiffy in new clothes, hoping someone will let you in? I seriously doubt it. Picture it. What would "crying" to the people look like? To me, it would be fervent pleading and begging for the people to listen. Intense bearing of testimony. The kind, that if it happened today, would seem overly dramatic and stupid. We'd look at him and think he was nuts, even if he was the general of our armies. We'd think he'd had one too many to drink. Nobody "cries" repentance today unless you're an evangelical preacher or a bible pounding lunatic. Maybe those lunatics know something we don't. Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to judge.

I can totally hear it. "We saved ourselves. We were strong. It wasn't God who liberated us from the Lamanites. There was no God at our head or at our back. It was you, Mormon. And you're a great leader. That's why we won." 

And as for hard hearts... I had a conversation with a friend the other day where she could explain everything away with science. EVERYTHING. And if you can't explain with science, it's just mumbo jumbo. The thing is, everything she said sounded very logical and even right, but in my heart, I knew something different. The things that science can explain can be explained, because God uses math and science. It doesn't take a genius to know that. But it does take faith to believe in the things you can't explain or understand right away.

I'm sure Mormon wondered why he couldn't preach when he was young, but now he could. Maybe he learned why, but until that time, he had to show faith and be obedient in doing things that were hard and that he didn't understand. Even with everyone telling him he was wrong. That's strength.

And it came to pass that after this tenth year had passed away, making, in the whole, three hundred and sixty years from the coming of Christ, the king of the Lamanites sent an epistle unto me, which gave unto me to know that they were preparing to come again to battle against us.

Told you. The Lamanites weren't finished. They weren't big on forgiveness. It wasn't in their vocabulary.

And it came to pass that I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward. And there we did place our armies, that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our lands; therefore we did fortify against them with all our force.
They didn't wait. They didn't play defensive. They took the offensive. Very brave.

And it came to pass that in the three hundred and sixty and first year the Lamanites did come down to the city of Desolation to battle against us; and it came to pass that in that year we did beat them, insomuch that they did return to their own lands again.

Booya! Take that!

And in the three hundred and sixty and second year they did come down again to battle. And we did beat them again, and did slay a great number of them, and their dead were cast into the sea.

The Lamanites don't seem to learn, do they? They just don't get it, and they don't give their hate a rest. They just keep coming. No fear--I'll give them that. But here's the question. Why does Mormon include all of this? Why does he show us how relentless the Lamanites are? Is there something we are supposed to learn from this? Ask yourself, do you have a grudge you won't let go of? For years possibly? My mother in law didn't speak to her sister for 10 years after a fight. TEN YEARS! Do you hate someone so much that they are on your mind constantly? I hope not. But if that is the case, you need to deal with it. Usually by letting it go. Just let it go. You won't be able to do it on your own though. You will have to beg the Lord for help. He's the only one who can take it away. Pray and visualize yourself giving up this burden to him. Picture him taking it from you. Picture him taking you in his arms and forgiving you of your own sins. That's what needs to happen anyway. It's wonderful to experience this. A priceless gift.

This is all for today, my friends, and it's plenty of food for thought. May your day be blessed.

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