Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Alma 5:6-7 -- On Memory and Change

"And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?
Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them."
Alma 5:6-7

This first verse has some really good questions for us.  Do we remember the captivity of our fathers?  Do we remember God's mercy and longsuffering towards our ancestors?  Do we remember that he delivered them from hell?
I think we mostly want to avoid thinking about hell, and often want to avoid thinking about our ancestors as well. :)  But there are some good lessons here... about our ancestors in the scriptures specifically, but also about other ancestors.  Do we remember God in their lives?  Do we know how God affected them?  This is one of the reasons that we are asked to keep journals, so that we can pass this information on to our posterity, but even if we don't have that information, we can see how having or not having the gospel has affected people, and we have the scriptures to fall back on.
Alma the younger, the one writing this selection, had some personal experience with feeling damned.  He had been going about to destroy the church, and only the prayers of his father on his behalf and the subsequent experience of having an angel condemn him woke him up to how he was destroying his life.  He was completely against God and the church, but as the second verse says about others, his heart was changed, by God.  He was saved from the darkness, destruction, death, and the chains of hell.  Similarly, we can look back at the lives of the prophets, back at the lives of our fathers, and even back at our own lives.
I'm guessing most of us have felt hopeless and lost at some point or another.  We may even have rejected the gospel or fought against it like Alma the younger.  Maybe we, even now, don't think that God is being fair or kind... that he should accept us all as we are rather than asking us to change.  And when we feel like that, or act on those feelings, then we are lost, just as surely as Alma was.  We're setting ourselves against God, and are headed to hell... unfortunately the only alternative to heaven. :)  When we turn away from God, we turn towards Satan, who likes us to think that we can do whatever we want and still be okay.  But to have God in our lives, we have to change.  Not only behaviorally, but we have to allow him to change our hearts.  Our attitudes have to change.  The things that we want that aren't compatible with God's law, we have to let go of those things, not claim them as our rights by birth or any other way.  We have to release the addictions, we have to want God more than whatever it is... more than anything, and we have to ask him to change our hearts for good.  Not just adjusting a little, to going to church on Sunday, but adjusting our lifestyle, our attitudes, our whole selves.  As C.S. Lewis said, “If we insist on keeping Hell (or even earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell.”  We have to let go of our souvenirs, no matter how precious or seemingly central to our lives.
Today, let's follow in the footsteps of the prophets, including Alma the younger.  Let's remember God's mercy and deliverance in the past, and let's apply it in our lives.  Let's remember that we have to let go of Hell all the way in order to accept Heaven.  Let's allow God to change our hearts and save us from destruction, as he saved our ancestors.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Total Pageviews