Wednesday, March 15, 2017

I am Still Mid-Wrestle

And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.

Thus opens (almost) the book of Enos, found in the Book of Mormon. And thus begins one of the more touching personal essays ever written in scripture, where we see an ordinary man struggle for the salvation of his own soul and the souls of his bretheren.

"Behold,” Enos tells us, “I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.”

Who is Enos’ father? It is Jacob, son of Lehi.

And what did Jacob teach concerning eternal life and the joy of the saints?

He taught, in Jacob Chapter 4, verse six: “[W]e search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy, and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.

“Nevertheless,” he continues in verse seven, “the Lord God showeth us our weaknesses that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things.”

Revelation, witnesses, hope and faith; but all this only through humility and the grace of God and His love for us, Jacob taught.

What wonderful things for a son to learn.

But we know the journey we take on the road of faith may be guided by others, but the drive we have to undertake the journey and to observe and appreciate the beauty along the way is ours alone to find. I’m so glad Enos found it, else we would not have these beautiful words of his to read:

[M]y 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.

I remember sitting on my bunk in a red brick building near the heart of Toulouse, France, studying my scriptures when I felt the power of that phrase – I knew that God could not lie – shoot through me like a lightning bolt. And I remember, too, asking the same question Enos asked: “Lord, how is it done?”

The Lord responded to me with another bolt as I read his response to Enos: “Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou has never before heard nor seen.”

I admit to shallowness. Then, as now, I was and am much more interested in the state of my own soul than those I might be called to teach, whether they were the citizens of the city of Toulouse, or those who surround me now. I realize, on my journey, I am not as far along as Enos, who poured out his soul in sincerity for God to preserve his bretheren, the Lamanites, and to preserve the records which he kept in the hope they would help bring the Lamanites back into the covenant. I did in my own way go “about among the people . . . prophesying of things to come, and testifying of the things which I had heard and seen,” as Enos did.

God did not lie, I could say, and say now, with faith and sincerity. I have learned that, just as Enos learned it long ago. Perhaps that would be a start for someone else’s journey along that beautiful road.

But like Enos, I knew the journey would not always be pleasant. Enos saw the stiffneckedness of his own people, the Nephites, and how their behavior inspired the Lamanites not to believe in Christ. Even among his own people, he saw “nothing, save it was exceeding harshness, preaching and prophesying of wars, and contentions, and destructions, and continually reminding them of death, and the duration of eternity, and the judgments and the power of God” that kept the Nephites from “going down speedily to destruction.”

I see that too, in the world we have today. I see that stiffneckedness in myself. When I seek to take the easy way. Or I fail to talk nightly with the God who placed me here, who blesses me daily with the joys and challenges life brings.

But I remind myself, God does not lie.

I must be more like Enos, who declared the word of God all his days, “and have rejoiced in it above that of the world.”

There, too, I could rejoice.

I am still mid-wrestle.

I re-read the words of Enos, and hope anew.

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