Preserved by His Marvelous Power Alma 53-63
The story of the Army of Helaman is probably one of the most well known and loved stories of the Book of Mormon. The idea that more than 2000 warriors could be "preserved by His marvelous power" because of their faith is awe inspiring.
I've always loved this story, and as a mother, I have always loved that these warriors went forth armed with the faith that developed from what their mothers taught them and were able to fight valiantly and be preserved for it.
As mothers, isn't that our greatest wish? That the things we teach our children will be the things they need to preserve them as they go forward in life?
Am I a stripling warrior?
Because I have been caught up in the mother side of the story for so many years, I think I've lost track of myself as a stripling warrior. I worry about what I've taught my kids, and I hope that I've taught them well and they will follow in those traditions and maintain the faith, but as for my own faith, well, I guess I don't pay as much attention to that side of things.
So as I went through this lesson, the thought came to me that I needed to put more effort in being a stripling warrior, instead of just raising them. Because the truth is, I only have so much control over what my children choose to believe, but I have complete control over me--over the faith that I have and the choices that I make. The best I can really do is be an example.
Especially as I feel like right now I am going through some serious trials, both personally and in the world around me, I can be preserved by His marvelous power, but only if I do my part.
Is my hope of good things to come too casual?
One of the main points of this lesson that really stood out to me is how I feel about hope. How often do we say something like "I sure hope things are going to get better" or even "I have faith and I'm holding on to hope that things will get better"?
I know I do this on a regular basis, especially over the last couple of months. But the truth is, my hope is pretty weak. I say I have faith, and I say I have hope. But I follow that with a lot of hand wringing and worrying. My hope isn't hope at all when that's what I'm doing.
The scripture in my study this morning that really jumped out at me was this one, Alma 58: 11:
Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him. And we did take courage with our small force which we had received, and were fixed with a determination to conquer our enemies...
He did visit us with assurances...
He would deliver us...
He did speak peace to our souls...
He did grant unto us great faith...
These are the words of hope in the Book of Mormon, and they are far from the weak feelings of hope I have been experiencing.
Faith doesn't mean we always get our way
When I was about 12 years old, a friend of mine and her sister got these awesome go carts for Christmas. I'm not gonna lie, I was SUPER jealous. They were so fun, and reminiscent of something that you'd ride at an amusement park, so to have one right there in your garage that you can drive any time you want would be fabulous.
I went over to her house, (I was even wearing new clothes I got for Christmas) and was admiring her new go cart with all the envy I could muster. When it was time for me to go home, she offered to give me a ride, I would just sit on the back (there was no seat) and hold on tight. I agreed.
As she got going, that little cart was going way faster than I imagined it would go. I didn't have a seat, or any kind of restraint, it was just me sitting in an awkward position on the back, hanging on for dear life and I was scared out of my mind.
I can still, all these years later, recall the complete and total paralyzing fear I felt. I was certain I was going to die. I said a little prayer asking Heavenly Father to help me not fall off, but my fear did not subside.
And then I fell off. Right on the road, all splayed out like roadkill. I ripped holes in my brand new clothes, scraped all the skin off my hands, and bled all over the place. It was horrible.
There was a long time after that accident that I wondered why I fell off. I had asked for help to not fall off, but it didn't work. It was one of the first in a long list of times I asked Heavenly Father for something and then didn't get what I asked for.
Being preserved by His marvelous power can mean a lot of things
The young army of Helaman was all preserved by His marvelous power, but what of the other righteous people that perished in all these years of war?
When I was young I may have asked myself a million times why I fell off that go cart. Looking back at the incident with wiser eyes, I realize that I had done a foolish thing sitting on it in the first place. And the accident could have been so much worse--I wasn't wearing a helmet or any kind of protection. I literally could have died from that accident had I landed in a different way. So maybe being preserved isn't what I thought it was.
Alma 57: 25 reminds us that even though they were not slain, there was also not one among them who had not been wounded.
I love this quote from John Bytheway, in his book, Righteous Warriors:
Having a testimony and having great faith in Christ does not guarantee that we won't suffer. Abraham, Job, Abinadi, Nephi, Joseph Smith, and countless other righteous people...all suffered. Jesus Christ suffered beyond them all, and he never did anything wrong... We're all going to go through some tough times; and that's just the nature of life on earth. But our tough times cannot destroy our hope unless we let them. That is our option. We're all going to suffer, but we don't have to be miserable. Since all of the stripling warriors were wounded, we might expect that we'll also get some bumps and bruises as we go through life's battles.
Lessons from the War Chapters are amazing!
I hope you've enjoyed your study of these chapters about the wars as much as I have. I used to love them because it was where all the action was, but I didn't pay a lot of attention to the lessons to be learned. This is the real advantage I have gotten from the Come Follow Me lessons.
Below I will post links to lesson helps that I found to go with this week's chapters, but there is a lot of information out there. Pray to find the answers you're looking for, and you will find them, maybe not in the links here, but wherever else you might be looking.
And be sure to grab the Challenge Cards for daily helps to keep your scripture study going!
Here are links to the Challenge Card Activities (plus some extras)