This has been an interesting week for me. There are a lot of changes coming very soon in my life and I have been pondering a lot on what I can do as I face them. This week’s chapters in 2 Nephi floored me when I thought one very important thought. When the Lord talks about gathering Israel and remembering his people it has EVERYTHING to do with me. His covenants to bring the gospel to all who will hear, to bind families together eternally, and to bring peace into the hearts of men isn’t just for those in Israel. He is speaking to all of us.
Therefore, I learned some very important lessons this week while studying.
I. God will never forget us because he loves us
I love reading passages of the Book of Isaiah because they remind me of two important things. First, God is well aware of where his people are and has prepared a way for them to be found again. For as it says in Isaiah,
21 ¶ Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me.Isaiah 44:21
We as people do not love long enough to think of or remember every soul on this Earth. People die, move away and cut ties with one another. Times moves the human family away from each other and it seems impossible to be connected again. There are uncountable souls on this Earth for one man to comprehend.
But God is different. He sees us, knows us and is aware of our individual lives. He knows where we came from, who we are now, and what is to become of us in years to come. The second beautiful truth given in Isaiah and throughout the scriptures is God sent Jesus Christ to save us. I love the scriptures in 2 Nephi which talk about his plans to gather Israel.
11 Wherefore, after they are driven to and fro, for thus saith the angel, many shall be afflicted in the flesh, and shall not be suffered to perish, because of the prayers of the faithful; they shall be scattered, and smitten, and hated; nevertheless, the Lord will be merciful unto them, that when they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer, they shall be gathered together again to the lands of their inheritance.
12 And blessed are the Gentiles, they of whom the prophet has written; for behold, if it so be that they shall repent and fight not against Zion, and do not unite themselves to that great and abominable church, they shall be saved; for the Lord God will fulfil his covenants which he has made unto his children; and for this cause the prophet has written these things. 2 Nephi 6:11-12
It fills me with such wonder to think how much love God has for us. To think he after thousands of years still strives to save us from ourselves. To bring us home.
II. To show our love for God, we must choose to follow Christ
That being said, knowledge of God’s love is not enough for us to find the happiness and peace we need. True love isn’t just a feeling. True love motivates us towards acting on those feelings. I have always loved Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast (1991) because it reminds me of this very principle. In my review of the movie I noted,
What exactly makes this movie and story so captivating? I think it is the idea that love has an overwhelming transformative and liberating power. This idea is so simple, yet, incredibly beautiful. How many times have books and movies depicted a hard, course man altering his character for love? As it says in Cocteau’s film, “Love can turn a man into a beast. . . (and also) make an ugly man beautiful.”– My review of Beauty and the Beast
I believe it is the same for all of us. There will always come a moment when we feel the weight of things we have done. And in that moment there comes a choice. When we learn of Christ will we choose to accept his love and follow His example towards eternal happiness or continue on a destructive path towards misery.
III. For our safety and happiness, God gave us commandments
I will always remember two distinct videos I watched when I was younger. The first was “Spiritual Crocodiles” from President Boyd K. Packer’s talk by the same name. He described them thus. “These spiritual crocodiles can kill or mutilate your souls. They can destroy your peace of mind and the peace of mind of those who love you.”
I have thought so much lately of dangerous ideas which are in our media. It seems like every year more and more immoral behaviors and scarring ideas make our way into our movies, TV shows and books. Lately, I have lamented how children’s shows and movies are now subject to these ideas. There are fewer safe places to avoid these things.
Sometimes there is very little we can do against seeing or hearing these things. Pornography is cleverly disguised in shows like Game of Thrones and foul language ignored more and more in present day critically acclaimed movies like Knives Out (2019).
This is where the second video from my childhood comes to mind. It was called “The Test” based on a fireside given by Robert Habertson. Honestly, the part I remember the clearest is when a young man is bitten by a rattle snake he saved from the top of a mountain. The snake had promised the young man he was “special” and no harm would come to him if he saved the snake from certain death. When the young man berated the snake and asked why it had bitten him the snake replied, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.”
This line, “You knew what I was when you picked me up.” has followed me throughout my life. I think of it as I choose what to watch or read. I think of it as I observe those around me choose to not follow God’s commandments. I have ultimate power in how I choose to live my life.
The media can make sin a very enticing thing, and omit certain truths for the benefit of money or popularity. But it cannot change the consequences which come inevitably when we do wrong.
I’ve seen many of my friends through small and seemingly harmless decisions which lead to very unhappy results. These decisions have led to divorce, cycles of self abuse, addiction to shows and drugs, and terrible guilt in regards to others they involved in their decisions.
But I have also seen the results of what happens when we choose Christ and put him at the head of our lives. I think of my parents, grandparents, siblings and church leaders I have seen. I think of those I taught on my mission in Russia and my heart swells knowing how beautiful life can be as we choose to follow Christ and ignore harmful ideas and behaviors. I loved reading in 2 Nephi,
14 Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness.2 Nephi 9:14
IV. God always keeps his promises
This was a principle I really needed to learn this week. I will be moving soon and with such a big change there also comes terrible uncertainty. I’ve thought back on other major changes in my life and promises I am still waiting to be fulfilled.
As I have pondered this, I came across another scripture in 2 Nephi.
17 For I will fulfill my promises which I have made unto the children of men, that I will do unto them while they are in the flesh.-2 Nephi 10-17
My mother has often told me, “God always keeps his promises.” Sometimes it just takes moments like this for me to understand what that means. I am grateful God is good. I am grateful for his Plan of Salvation, and I am grateful knowing he sent Christ to be our Savior, to lead us on a path of safety and joy.