Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mosiah 27:15-16 -- On Angels and Agency

"And now behold, can ye dispute the power of God? For behold, doth not my voice shake the earth? And can ye not also behold me before you? And I am sent from God.
Now I say unto thee: Go, and remember the captivity of thy fathers in the land of Helam, and in the land of Nephi; and remember how great things he has done for them; for they were in bondage, and he has delivered them. And now I say unto thee, Alma, go thy way, and seek to destroy the church no more, that their prayers may be answered, and this even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off."
Mosiah 27:15-16

I think this is fascinating for a couple of reasons... one, that an angel came down to prove to someone that God exists. In an earlier verse the angel explains that he has come because of the prayers of Alma's father, and the people of the church. I think this is remarkable, because most people don't get this privilege. I know, being stricken dumb by an angel might not seem like a privilege, but it was... it brought Alma back from some incredible wickedness, and saved him in the end.  His life turned completely around from this point. I wonder if some of the things that we think are devastating in our own lives are designed with a similar purpose.

The other thing that I think is amazing is that the angel still emphasizes Alma's free agency. He comes down and says (in essence) ... listen Alma. I'm not here because of you, but because of the people you are hurting. You are completely free to destroy yourself, but STOP destroying them. ... And I think that tells us something very clear about God and his ways. He is not going to walk all over our choices, even in extreme circumstances where the entire church is praying for us to change. He will give us some additional information perhaps, or show us where our choices were wrong... but he still leaves it in our hands to change or remain in our sins.

Could Alma have gone through this experience and returned to wickedness... absolutely. I'm sure it was incredibly difficult for him to change his life so completely, and to explain to people who weren't there that he had a religious experience... but he *did* have one, whether anyone believed him or not, and he made the hard choices and changes in his life, and turned it around.  Perhaps our experiences aren't quite as dramatic, but do we know *any* less than he did? I don't think so. I think our experiences make God and his will just as obvious... and our choices are just as clear. We, also, can choose for ourselves to be cast off. Or we can change, and join God's work. Today, let's work on doing what we know is right.

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