Talking Teenagers and a Terrific Testimony

Alright, I apologize for the annoying alliteration, but with a name like Mormon in Minnesota, I’m bound to do it occasionally, right? 😉

No big-time chastity questions in my Sunday School class today. Based on how things went, I should have spent more time addressing the topic, Talking out of turn in Sunday School class: What are the limits?

Chatty bunch today! Still, it is good experience to be with them each week. I wish I could think of a better adjective, but I can’t. It is simply good. 🙂

Another part of church today was also good – in fact it was great. The speakers in Sacrament meeting were terrific. Their messages were uplifting and personal. One of them was a recently divorced Hispanic young mother of two. She very humbly mentioned that several months ago, she felt a desire to improve her life, both spiritually and temporally. She met with her bishop. He counseled her to read her scriptures everyday, so she did. As she got going she felt inspired to read the Book of Mormon within a month. Despite having two young kids and being in school at the time, she read and to her surprise she was able to finish it in less than a month.

From reading the Book of Mormon in so short a time, she said, she gained a stronger testimony of its truthfulness. She was also impressed by how faithful the Lord is in delivering his people. As she spoke and described what she learned, I felt the Holy Ghost through her message. I was strengthened.

This good woman didn’t refer to the following verses from the Book of Mormon, but she may have had them in mind. They sure came to my mind as I listened to her remarks. Mosiah chapter 24, verses 13-16 has been a favorite of mine for a long time. The Lord doesn’t often explain why he does certain things, but in this case he does. He also frequently asks us to believe, but in this case, he wants his people to “know of a surety” just how present he is in our lives, especially in our afflictions.

Mosiah 24 - visit in afflictions

A Mormon’s Book of Mormon – “My soul is pained no more”

Mosiah chapter 27 (and Alma 36) contain moving accounts of a rebellious young man named Alma – the son of a high priest with the same name – who first encounters a stern angel with a “voice of thunder;” then falls to the earth as if he were dead; and later receives his strength again, stands up, and tells the people he has just waded through an excruciatingly painful three days of re-experiencing the agony of his former sins and rebelliousness. But that is not all, he says. “I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord…”

Thus, the story’s resolution is that a very wayward son – one who beforehand, we learn, was determined to “destroy the church of God” – finds redemption and reconciliation, both with his father, the high priest – and with his God, a previously unknown being.

[As an interesting aside, these two different chapters reveal a skilled narrator at work, as Mosiah 27 covers the experience rather matter-of-factly, with an outsider’s voice (“and the limbs of Alma received their strength”) and is dated approximately near the assumed year of this visitation; whereas Alma 36 is a first-person description of the event as told in a conversation Alma has with his son Helaman some 27 years and 100 pages later (“my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet.”]

While both chapters contain emotional verses about the anguish – and then subsequent joy – Alma felt through his instructive experience, I have always found the end of verse 29 of Mosiah 27 to be especially meaningful:

My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more.

The beauty of the Christian message is that repentance and redemption are made possible through Jesus Christ, a point that the new Alma repeatedly testifies he learned through this very experience! Because sinful conduct does bring real psychosomatic pain, we either learn the proper causation and then self-correct – all the while seeking renewal and forgiveness from God – or we attempt to minimize, dull, or ignore the uncomfortable disquiet lingering in our memories and souls. Thankfully, Jesus Christ has the power to permanently relinquish that pain and forgive us of our wrongs. Our sincere repentance – which necessarily includes “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” – enables Christ to free us from the effects of our sinful behavior, and from the sinful behavior itself. That is the miracle Alma experienced: the exuberant joy, light, and relief that flowed through him, which in direct proportion replaced the exquisite, bitter pain and inexpressible horror he experienced earlier.

but I am snatched. And my soul is pained no more.

mosiah 27