Wednesday, May 7, 2014


When we slip and fall, we can become injured. Our wound if left open and untreated can lead to a nasty infection. The infection can spread and turn a minor injury to a life threatening situation. It becomes necessary to reopen an infected wound, then sanitize and clean it. One must wrap it properly and wait for it to heal. New skin will grow and the wound will be closed though a scar may remain as a reminder of what happened.

In Alma 58, Helaman and his small band of men must obtain the city of Manti from the Lamanites. The problem they encounter is that their small band of men does not have the size or strength to take the city or fight off the thousands of Lamanites who occupy it. If Helaman and his men had a full frontal confrontation with them, they would all be utterly destroyed.

It became "expedient" for Heleman and his men to "wait," so that they could receive strength and provisions from Zarahemla. They waited and waited outside the city of Manti for "the space of many months even until they were about to perish for want of food."

Heleman writes that he did not know why they were to wait, he just knows that they were instructed to by God and they obeyed because they feared for their destruction. In the interim, the Nephites "did pour our our souls in prayer to God," that he would give them strength and deliver them from the Lamanites.

The Lord answered their prayers, though it is important to note he answered them in his own timing. He required them to wait and endure before he responded.

“The Lord put inside these men the will and the power to do what they desired- to begin with a strong resolve and then to see it through. After their prayer was answered, the Nephites went on to secure their liberty.” (Gene R. Cook, Receiving Answers to Our Prayers, 156).

Helaman and his men split into three forces, drawing out the entire army of the Lamanites occupying Manti save for a few guards. While the Lamanites rested in their pursuit of the Nephites, Helaman back tracked and pushed his men to march through the night, that they might take the city by "another way."

Helaman's men entered the mostly empty city of Manti. The guards were quickly disarmed and by "stratagem" the city of Manti was taken without bloodshed. 

When I was younger and I would listen to my mom read the war chapters of the Book of Mormon, I never really understood why they were included as scriptures. The scriptures are supposed be spiritual and boring right?

What I've come to understand many years later is the importance of chapters such as Alma 58. Helaman was fighting a physical war with his men against the Lamanites, while we are all fighting a spiritual warfare against Satan today.

At times because of our choices in life, we must wait and take another way than originally planned. It can be devastating, frustrating, and painful. Sincere prayer, repentance, and a building up of strength are required in our return to be where we need to be. We must listen so that we do not go or do anything before we are ready and end up destroyed.

From April to June 1828, Martin Harris acted as Joseph Smith's scribe as the Prophet dictated the manuscript using the Urim and Thummim. By the middle of June, Joseph had dictated about 116 manuscript pages of text.

Martin Harris continued to have doubts about the authenticity of the manuscript, and he "could not forget his wife's skepticism or the hostile queries of Palmyra's tavern crowd." Joseph's mother, Lucy, "said that Martin asked Joseph for a look at the plates, for 'a further witness of their actual existence and that he might be better able to give a reason for the hope that was within him.' When that request was denied, he asked about the manuscript. Could he at least take it home to reassure his wife?” After denying his request twice, Joseph, with a great deal of uneasiness, said that the Lord had given permission, and he allowed Martin to take the manuscript pages back to Palmyra on condition that he show them to only five named family members. He even made Martin bind himself in a solemn oath.

When Martin returned home, he showed the manuscript to his wife, who allowed him to lock them in her bureau. Martin then showed the pages not only to the named relatives but "to any friend who came along." The manuscript then disappeared.

Shortly after Martin left Harmony, Emma Smith gave birth to Joseph's firstborn son, who was "very much deformed" and died less than a day after delivery. Emma nearly died herself, and Joseph tended her for two weeks. As she slowly gained strength, Joseph left her in the care of her mother and went back to Palmyra in search of Martin and the manuscript.

The following day Martin was dragged into the Smith family home in distress and without the pages. Joseph urged Martin to search his house again, but Martin told him he had already ripped open beds and pillows. Joseph moaned, "Oh, my God!… All is lost! All is lost! What shall I do? I have sinned—it is I who tempted the wrath of God".

After returning to Harmony without Martin, Joseph dictated to Emma his first written revelation, which both rebuked him and denounced Martin Harris as "a wicked man." Nevertheless, the revelation assured Joseph that if he was penitent, the interpreters would be returned to him during his annual visit with Moroni on September 22, 1828, and he would regain his ability to translate.

Between the loss of the pages during the summer of 1828 and the rapid completion of the Book of Mormon in the spring of 1829, there was a period of quiescence as the prophet waited "for help or direction." In April 1829 Joseph was joined by Oliver Cowdery as a replacement scribe for Martin Harris.  The pace of the transcription increased dramatically so that within two months nearly the entire remainder of the manuscript of the Book of Mormon was completed.

Joseph did not retranslate the material that Martin Harris had lost because he said that if he did, evil men would alter the manuscript in an effort to discredit him. Instead Joseph had been divinely ordered to replace the lost material with Nephi's account of the same events. When Joseph reached the end of the book, he was told that God had foreseen the loss of the early manuscript and had prepared the same history in an abridged format that emphasized religious history, the "Small Plates of Nephi."

A comforting thought in this sea of despair is that our Savior is well aware of the end from the beginning. He will always provide another way. He did with the lost 116 pages of the Book of Mormon. He will with us when we fall and need to be picked back up.

My life has been planned out for me perfectly for the last three years. Due to my own agency and the need for justice and mercy, I've become injured and required to wait while I heal. I'm not going to be able to do things as I've planned. I know the Lord will provide another way, given I pay attention this time.

I'm having the hardest time forgiving myself. The ironic thing: I am forgiven, I know that. But I don't see how I can truly be forgiven or be washed away of things I've done. If I let myself dwell in my thoughts, they perpetuate and I focus on how how much I hate myself or how stupid I am. I don't see how anyone could love or want anything to do with me.

Trying to truly believe and apply the following:

It was unthinkable, impossible, unfathomable, unprecedented. A single act that changed history, possibility, destiny. He was a carpenter, a teacher, an outcast, a leader. Yet he did what no carpenter, teacher, outcast, leader had ever done. Like all who preceded him, he lived, and he died. But unlike all who preceded him, he rose from the dead, he lived again. He lives and because he lives, you, you, and you, and she, and he, and they, and we all will live again. Because of him death has no sting, the grave no victory. We can start again, and again, and again. Because of him, guilt becomes peace, regret becomes relief, despair becomes hope. Because of him, we have second chances, clean slates, new beginnings. There is no such thing as the end because of him.


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