AND NEVER, UNTIL I DID CRY OUT (Alma 38:8)-Part 2
Step Seven: Humbly cried unto the Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts for a remission of sins that through His mercy and His grace we might experience a mighty change of heart, lose all disposition to do evil, and thus be encircled about in the arms of safety because of His great and last sacrifice. (Alma 36:18; Alma 38:8; Moroni 10:32; Mosiah 5:2; Alma 34:15-16)
Principle Seven: The mighty change of heart is a gift from God that I must desire and ask for.
WE MUST ASK
While it is incorrect to ask without taking any thought beforehand (D&C 9:7), that does not describe the circumstances of someone who has sincerely pursued this course of study and action to this point. This is the point at which it is absolutely appropriate and essential to ask God.
God will always respect our will. He will send the Holy Spirit to guide us. He may inspire others to help us. Over and over, He will attempt to persuade us to His truth, but He will do nothing to, or even for, us without our permission, without our consent. He will never force us. We can trust this eternal truth. I believe that if we cannot remember giving permission for certain circumstances to occur in our life, we can remind ourselves that we don’t remember all there is to remember. And we can know that He does nothing against our will.
He will not even help us against our will. We must ask.
If ye cannot understand [these words] it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock. (2 Nephi 32:4)
We have His own promise:
For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. (3 Nephi 14:8)
We need not fear that He will not answer or that we’re asking for something amiss. He will answer because He loves us.
Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask bread, will give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (3 Nephi 14:9-11)
EXAMPLES From THE Scriptures
And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.
And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away. (Enos 1:4-6)
And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified. (Mosiah 4:2)
And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered…the coming of one Jesus Christ.
Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me. (Alma 36:17-18)
I was…in the most bitter pain and anguish of soul; and never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins. But behold, I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul. (Alma 38:8; emphasis added)
WE MUST ASK AND THEN TRUST GOD’S TIMETABLE
Sometimes we get caught up in our own “all or nothing” perception of perfection, totally forgetting that becoming perfect is a process. God wants us to become perfect, but not any faster than we can genuinely do so. He has some pretty tough words to say about “acting as if.”
To “act as if” might be a good temporary tactic, but it cannot be a permanent resort. “Acting as if” is the equivalent of “being willing to be willing.” It is not capable of sustaining any long-term change or maintaining a change under severe stress. Eventually we must all come to a place where we aren’t just “acting as if,” but actually being genuine in our motivation.
For if [a man] offereth a gift or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing. For behold, it is not counted unto him as righteousness.
For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift. (Moroni 7:6-8)
For it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. (Mosiah 4:27)
And thus God does not grant us a greater degree of recovery until we are ready for it. He knows and sees far more than we do, and we gave Him permission to direct and conduct our lives while we are under this veil of forgetfulness. We have forgotten the eternal principles that motivated us to take on the challenge and pain of this mortal life-but He hasn’t. We gave Him permission to guide our lives by these principles, even when we kick and scream at Him for doing so.
But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage. (Mosiah 7:33)
What is His will and pleasure? It is the same as His work and his glory-to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life (Moses 1:39). We can trust that that is what everything is for. We can trust Him and thank Him in all things (Mosiah 7:33, D&C 59:7).
CONCLUSION: We can trust the process
Let us come again to that very same conclusion that we have come to in every lesson-Christ. Christ is the answer, He is the solution, and He is the conclusion. He is both the “author and finisher of [our] faith” (Moroni 6:4), the beginning and the end of our recovery from any compulsion or addiction. Our hope is bright only in Him and in His own words to us:
For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world. (Mosiah 26:23)
Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me. (Mosiah 26:30)
We can trust the process. It’s not a process of beeline perfection. It’s a process of learning by our own experience the good from the evil. It isn’t how many times we fall down that counts. It’s how many times we get up.
ASSIGNMENT FOR THIS WEEK:
Read “Beauty for Ashes, the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” by Bruce C. Hafen (Ensign, April 1990) or “A Practical Approach to the Atonement: Believing in Christ,” by Stephen E. Robinson (BYU Today, Nov. 1990). Capture in writing at least one thought from either of these articles and come willing to share it with the group next week. (Or at least be willing to be willing!)
Preparation for discussion of principle eight: “THEY BURIED [THEIR] WEAPONS OF WAR, FOR PEACE” (Alma 24:19)
Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make restitution to all of them (even those we had harmed in what we might have considered righteous anger), desiring instead to be peacemakers and to do all that we could to come unto God by being first reconciled to others. (3 Nephi 12:9; 3 Nephi 12:24; 3 Nephi 12:44-45)
Day 1:_ 1 Nephi 7:21-We too must “frankly forgive them all that they [have] done.” Usually when we have harmed someone else, we feel that we are justified in doing so. We rationalize our behavior to ourselves. Someone once said that the word “rationalize” could be broken into the two words: rational/lies. Write about someone you have hurt, and why you felt justified in doing so.
Day 2:_ Mosiah 26:29-30-We already considered this scripture in the context of the fifth principle as we discussed the need to confess to another person. Now let’s think of it in terms of repenting in the “sincerity” of our heart. How would being willing to actually go and make restitution to all others demonstrate our sincerity?
Day 3:_ Alma 7:15-This verse tells us that baptism is one way that we “show unto [our] God that [we] are willing to repent.” How is being willing to make restitution to others another powerful way to “show unto your God that ye are willing to repent”? (See Matthew 5:23-24.)
Day 4:_ Alma 24:18-19–“…it being in their view a testimony to God, and also to men, that they never would use weapons again.” When we are finally humble enough to go to all persons we have harmed and acknowledge our part of the past pain and conflict, we are laying down our weapons of war. Why is it important that we carry through with this public action, rather than just saying to ourselves and God that we’re sorry and letting “bygones be bygones”? Do the words of this scripture, “a testimony to God, and also to men,” give us a clue?
Day 5:_ Alma 27:29–“They would suffer death…before they would take [up] the sword.” When we go to others to make amends or restitution for past wrongs, we must be willing to suffer their rejection, even if it makes us feel like we’re going to die. This willingness is part of going down into the very depths of humility to be made whole. Do you have anyone on your list that you fear will reject or belittle your efforts to make peace? If so, write about them and about whether you feel that their negative reaction is more important than your life being cleansed of regret and pain.
Day 6:_ 3 Nephi 12:9–“Blessed are all the peacemakers.” Our physical parents pass on physical traits to us. When we are born again we become the children of Christ, and we inherit or are blessed with His godly traits. Most of us have been involved in the lifelong business of trying to make ourselves have these traits. Write about the blessing it would be in your life to be a peacemaker through the power of Christ.
Day 7:_ 3 Nephi 12:23-24–“If ye shall come unto me, …first be reconciled to thy brother.” Until we are able to make amends, our hearts are not able to completely center on the Lord. Instead they wander, due to the unresolved pain we have received from or given to others. When we become “reconciled” (friendly or settled) with our “brothers,” then more and more of our hearts and the purpose of our hearts can be given to the Lord. Write about how past hurt causes you to separate yourself from the Lord.
He Did Deliver Me from Bondage can be found at most LDS bookstores or purchased online at www.rosehavenpublishing.com