Sunday, December 13, 2015

1 Nephi 12:4-6 -- On Coming Out of the Darkness

"And it came to pass that I saw a mist of darkness on the face of the land of promise; and I saw lightnings, and I heard thunderings, and earthquakes, and all manner of tumultuous noises; and I saw the earth and the rocks, that they rent; and I saw mountains tumbling into pieces; and I saw the plains of the earth, that they were broken up; and I saw many cities that they were sunk; and I saw many that they were burned with fire; and I saw many that did tumble to the earth, because of the quaking thereof.
And it came to pass after I saw these things, I saw the vapor of darkness, that it passed from off the face of the earth; and behold, I saw multitudes who had not fallen because of the great and terrible judgments of the Lord.
And I saw the heavens open, and the Lamb of God descending out of heaven; and he came down and showed himself unto them."
1 Nephi 12:4-6

These verses are talking about Christ, after his resurrection, appearing to the people in the Americas.  First there is a mist of darkness, and chaos, and then things calm down and Christ appears.  The words "mist of darkness" are also used in Lehi's dream (1 Nephi 8:23-24) to describe times of trial and temptation for those trying to follow the path to the tree of life, which I think is an interesting parallel.  These verses show us that the mist of darkness is a powerful symbol, and actually can be more than merely a metaphor.
When we face darkness in our lives, it's not just a tiny cloud... a moment of doubt or a minor misstep.  We're all going to have to face real trials, where the darkness is tangible... real impediments in our path, dangerous obstacles that can truly harm us.  The people in this chapter faced a physical mist of darkness, and lived through great destruction, and after all of that, the darkness cleared and they saw Christ.  Similarly, in Lehi's dream, some people stumbled in the mists of darkness and are lost.  The ones who made it through held tightly onto the rod of iron, which is a representation of the word of God.
The mists of darkness came to everyone in Lehi's dream, righteous or not, just as they did literally in this chapter.  And I think that this is true in our own lives too.  We're all going to have to face the darkness.  Following God doesn't mean we won't encounter the mist, and understand how easy it is to become lost.  But, as followers of God, we do have the means, and the hope, to make it through the mist and to our Savior on the other side.
Sometimes the darkness might come into our lives in a very literal way, the way it came for the people in this chapter.  Other times, maybe it will be a spiritual challenge where we face sin and have to endure temptation that makes us question our devotion.  And maybe we have to go through different types of darkness over the course of our lives, physical and spiritual, as we learn to endure them, and come out on the other side.  But on the other side of the darkness, always, is God, talking us through it, guiding us with his spirit to stay on the path and hold onto his word, and waiting, with arms outstretched, for us to find our way to him.  Today, let's remember that the darkness is not permanent.  It ends, and if we can stay strong, and stay committed, we will get through it, and see God on the other side.  Let's dedicate ourselves to enduring the darkness, and helping others find their way as well.

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