I last wrote about the unexpected success of Alma and his people. It is interesting at how different Alma’s experience was compared to the people who had not received his teachings, the people of wicked King Noah (Mosiah 19-22). They too were brought into bondage by the Lamanites, King Noah was killed, his priest’s fled. The Lamanites taxed them at a rate of 50%. Life was hard, so eventually they attempted to fight off the Lamanites. To the natural man it makes sense to fight off the bad guys, to fight for freedom. Yet, they were defeated by the Lamanites several times, suffering great loss. Finally they got to a state where they were the humbled to the dust. The account says:
And they did humble themselves even to the dust, subjecting themselves to the yoke of bondage, submitting themselves to be smitten, and to be driven to and fro, and burdened, according to the desires of their enemies. (Mosiah 21:13)
Wow, what a place to be in. This is right where the Adversary wants us; in bondage to him. Satan and his forces want us stuck in this scenario, with no hope of deliverance. He wants us to feel discouraged, depressed. Since we have failed to fix things, he wants us to believe that things can’t be fixed. Whether it is a personal weakness, a challenge in our health, relationships, or finances, he wants us to give up in despair.
But that does not have to be the end of the story, it is not supposed to be the end of the story, there is still hope. The account continues:
And they did humble themselves even in the depths of humility; and they did cry mightily to God; yea, even all the day long did they cry unto their God that he would deliver them out of their afflictions. (Mosiah 21:14)
The Lord allows these scenarios where we cannot fix things so that we will turn to him. There is nothing too hard for the Lord! As we turn to him there is hope! He can deliver us from bondage! We need the mercy of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in every area of our lives. We need him to deliver us from the bondage of our sins, we cannot overcome the tendencies of the natural man on our own. We cannot change our hearts, but he can! We cannot change our carnal mindset, but he can help us change! We cannot heal our relationships, but he can! We cannot heal our chronic health problems, but he can! As I have mentioned in my last few posts, one of the elements of accessing miracles is to swallow our pride and acknowledge, “I cannot do it, but God can.” There is where these people of King Noah (now lead by his son Limhi) found themselves. They had tried to do it on their own, with their own strength, and it wasn’t enough. I believe that the Lord blesses each of us with challenges on the road of life that we cannot change, so that we will turn to him, learn of him, and trust him. I have had a few of those, and I have tried desperately to change them with my own willpower and strength. I have wanted to win the battle and stand on the victory stand and tell everyone how I did it. I have had to struggle with my pride, and feelings of failure and self doubt. I now realize all of this has been divinely orchestrated to bring me closer to Christ, to acknowledge that he is my Savior in ever way. Jesus Christ wants to deliver us, but it must be on his terms, not ours.
He did deliver the people of king Limhi. As they humbled themselves, the Lord blessed them, and eventually help came from the land of Zarahemla, and they found a way to escape to the land of Zarahemla. The Lord wants to deliver us, to redeem us, but the victory is his, because of his goodness, not ours.
I have wondered at the statement by Moses, after seeing a great vision of God’s creations, he was left to himself and he fell to earth and had no strength for many hours. He then said,
I now know that man his nothing, which thing I never had supposed. (Moses 1:10)
I think I’m getting closer to understanding this scripture. Compared to God we are mere infants, and we can do nothing. Christ even said in John 15:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches; He that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
That is very direct, Jesus Christ told it like it is. We can do nothing without him. Of our success, our blessings, our freedom, all we can say is, “Jesus Christ has been merciful to me.” I think of the brothers of Joseph in Egypt; as they came for grain, he forgave them for their betrayal, gave them food and the land of Goshen to live in. Could they take the credit for their homes in the land of Goshen? Were they entitled to the land of Goshen? Had they earned the land of Goshen? No, this was a gift to them. They were given the land of Goshen because Joseph was a merciful person, because he was kind and generous. They were able to live in freedom and prosperity in Goshen because Joseph was good, not them. We are in the same situation, everything good in our lives has come because God is good, not us. Everything of true worth that we have done, we have done with God’s help. Our lives and every breath we take is a gift from him. And as King Benjamin told his people, we are at best unprofitable servants to him. He doesn’t need us to help him with his work, but he invites us to join him, to walk with him, to help him with his work so we can become like him. And because we have a loving Father in Heaven, there is hope for me and you. God wants to bless us, he wants our lives to be good. He wants us to have the kind of a life that he has, Eternal life! This life is not meant to be a pleasure cruise, it is a boot camp for exaltation! And the sooner we learn to walk with him, and let go of our natural man selfishness, the happier our lives will be. As we let go and let God work through us, giving ALL the glory to him, he changes us to become like him, and all things become possible!
If you have any thoughts or comments, please feel free to share.