I owe everyone an apology for missing the last 2 weeks! The previous week, I was without a computer because it crashed, but last week I completely forgot to post! I totally dropped the ball on that one. It was the day of my final, and I guess everything else just slipped my mind. I am so sorry!
On to chapter 23. There is a lot of history in this chapter--Alma escapes King Noah with his people, and they start to build their own land in Helam. They prosper for a while before the Lord decides to chasten his people. The armies of the Lamanites arrive and trick them into bondage.
The first principle I wanted to touch on in this chapter is one I feel like I have mentioned before, but I would like to mention it again. The power of one man. Abinadi died having only touched the heart of one man--Alma. But through this one man, thousands and thousands of people were converted to the Lord. it was as if Abinadi's entire purpose was to convert Alma to the ways of the Lord so that Alma could finish the work Abinadi started. This is a missionary principle we hear of over and over again. I am reminded of a story I heard in Relief Society once. This lady was the granddaughter of a woman who happened to be the only baptism a certain missionary had had on his mission. She said that because of that one baptism, at least 70 people joined the church because of posterity or friends or this woman's children and grandchildren serving missions. You just never know what kind of impact you may have in this life.
Another thought I had was of Alma. I never thought of him as being wicked previous to this time. I had always thought of him as the convert that lead thousands of people to repentance. But he says that he did things that were abominable in the sight of the Lord and that required sore repentence. It got me thinking of his son, who essentially went through the same process. How much better was Alma prepared to teach his son because of his own experiences? He experienced wickedness, then the joy of repentence and turning his heart to the Lord. We all know his son required a visit from an angel to soften his heart, but I still believe that Alma's experiences at this time helped prepare him to be a father. It is interesting the paths we must take, and the ways in which the Lord prepares us for things to come.
The last principle I wanted to touch on was that the Lord felt He needed to chasten His people, whom He loved. Trials of any sort are frightening. There will always be moments in our lives where we will feel overwhelmed and that we might not survive. But the Lord does what He does for a reason, and this is something I think I may spend the rest of my life struggling to understand. We must experience these thigns so that we will learn and grow stronger. It is how the Lord refines us. But no matter the trial, the Lord has provided a way to seek comfort during the trial, and a way to move on if we so choose to follow that path. I was reading Elder Holland's talk yesterday about Jesus, when He was suffering in Gethsemane and on the cross, He had to experience moments of total loneliness and abandonment. He had to do this so that we never would. What an incredible gift. Our Savior will always be at our side. He will carry us through the hard times. He will always love us. Considering it from that perspective has truly given me a deeper appreciation of what He did for us. How blessed and fortunate are we to have such a loving, constant, stable support in our lives. We truly have a Father in Heaven who loves us all, and an Elder Brother who made the greatest sacrifice of all because He also loves us more than we can fathom. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.