Topic : Confusion

“For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah . . . .” (First Nephi 1:4; see also Second Chronicles 36:11-16)

“. . . Jared came forth with his brother and their families . . . at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, and swore in his wrath that they should be scattered upon all the face of the earth; and according to the word of the Lord the people were scattered.” (Ether 1:33; see also Genesis 11:7-9)

I grew up in South Texas attending another Christian church. At the time, I knew nothing about the contents of The Book of Mormon. However, I was familiar with The Bible. It wasn’t until years later that I learned that The Book of Mormon account commences at the time that Zedekiah was king over Israel. Zedekiah is mentioned in the Bible record in the same time period that according to The Book of Mormon, Lehi left Jerusalem. Since both records spoke of Zedekiah, that was proof to me that Lehi was a real person. In 2 Chronicles Chapter 36, 2 Kings Chapters 15 and 24, and Jeremiah Chapter 7, Zedekiah is mentioned as the king over Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came and destroyed the city when Zedekiah rebelled against him. According to The Book of Mormon, Lehi and his family left just in time.

The Book of Mormon’s Book of Ether tells of a group living near the Tower of Babel who were led by Jared and his brother who petitioned the Lord to not confound their language and to lead them to another land, which He did. In see also Genesis Chapter 11, we find an account of the scattering of people who were building the tower, and the confounding of their language.

To me, these two connections – Lehi at the time of Zedekiah, and the Jaredites at the time of the Tower of Babel, were a practical proof that The Book of Mormon was a true historical account.

I like practical and also spiritual proofs. For me, the spiritual proof of the validity of The Book of Mormon is evident in the effect of every page upon me, and upon what I have done with my life — my values, my occupation, my wife and family, my eternal goals.

My logic is that if The Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith is a prophet. If Joseph is a prophet, then the church that he established must be the Lord’s Church. That is why I was baptized into His church.

"Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness." (2 Nephi 9: 51)

Years ago, I found my boys wanting to go to the mall to play arcade games with their hard-earned money. I was distraught thinking it was such a waste of both time and money. I was searching for a good reason to help them make a better choice. While reading my scriptures, I opened the Book of Mormon and glanced at the above verse.

Instantly, I felt this thought was an answer from heaven to my prayer. Later, the discussion with my boys laid the groundwork for helping them make worthwhile and satisfying choices, choices that made them feel good about themselves and gave them opportunities to use their money wisely.

This same scripture is one I remember when my choices seem unclear. When my direction is pointed to Christ and I am feasting “upon that which perisheth not,” my ability to make better choices increases and “I delight in fatness”, being filled with things that God would want me to do. That is when I truly feel God’s love and blessing in my life.

"And as ye have desired of my beloved brother that he should make known unto you what ye should do, because of your afflictions; and he hath spoken somewhat unto you to prepare your minds; yea, and he hath exhorted you unto faith and to patience . . . ." (Alma 34:3)

In college I was terrified of messing up big decisions. I would get really worked up about what boys to date, what job to take or what major to pursue. I had a strong desire to do what is right, but fretted over what was the best route.  I remember one night I was particularly anxious about a decision and I had a thought to look to my scriptures. I opened the Book of Mormon to the above verse.  Even though this was written hundreds of years before my time and the man who wrote it was facing trials totally different than mine, I felt like God was speaking me. I had felt lost and unsure and this scripture offered a plan and a promise. I have always felt it important that it tells me to do my part by preparing my mind, not just wait around for an answer.  Adequate preparation combined with both faith in God’s love for me and a little bit of patience has become the equation that helps me resolve any problem I come across. I truly come back to this scripture whenever I am feeling overwhelmed and it simply gives me peace. I love the Book of Mormon. I love the feeling of comfort and peace I get when I read this scripture. I am so grateful to feel God’s love and guidance through the Book of Mormon.

"And now I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things; and behold, their names shall be blotted out, that the names of the wicked shall not be numbered among the names of the righteous, that the word of God may be fulfilled, which saith: The names of the wicked shall not be mingled with the names of my people; for the names of the righteous shall be written in the book of life, and unto them will I grant an inheritance at my right hand. And now, my brethren, what have ye to say against this? I say unto you, if ye speak against it, it matters not, for the word of God must be fulfilled. For what shepherd is there among you having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? And behold, if a wolf enter his flock doth he not drive him out? Yea, and at the last, if he can, he will destroy him. And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; and he commandeth you that ye suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among you, that ye may not be destroyed. And now I, Alma, do command you in the language of him who hath commanded me, that ye observe to do the words which I have spoken unto you. I speak by way of command unto you that belong to the church; and unto those who do not belong to the church I speak by way of invitation, saying: Come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life." (Alma 5:57-62)

Growing up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I never felt I really needed to be “converted” to the teachings that I had grown up learning. It wasn’t until my Junior and Senior years of high school that I really felt like my belief in the Church was being tested. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at the age of sixteen. Being told that not only did I have a serious pain condition but that it would also stick with me for life, led to my developing a serious case of depression. I allowed myself to become bitter and angry with God, and got myself mixed up in a crowd that wasn’t conducive to the standards the Church had in place. However, I began to feel empty inside. I was happy, but I didn’t feel whole. I began to wonder if having the Lord back in my life would help me to feel complete again. While reading the Book of Mormon, I found many verses that talked about abandoning sin, and coming unto Christ, but Alma 5 particularly stood out. Not only did it encourage me to abandon living the life of frivolity that I was currently participating in, but it compared all of us on earth to sheep being watched over by “the good shepherd”. The line, “the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; . . .that ye also may be partakers of the fruit of the tree of life” was the tipping point in turning from the life I was currently living, and coming unto the Savior That was the best decision I have ever made. I have never felt as peaceful, jovial, and simply content with who and where I am in life, as I have since I decided to make the decision to abandon the person that I was and become a member of the fold which is actively watched over and protected by the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

"And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity." (Moroni 10:22)

“Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.” (Moroni 7:42)

Despair. No one is immune. Some may be less susceptible to it, and others more likely to have it. Some have it all the time and can never get away from it. Sadly it sometimes leads to drastic ends. I have felt it from time to time. It seems to grow steadily as the rising tide, consuming the shoreline, relentless, crushing, and inevitable. Despair dissolves the hope of a brighter future.

I remember a time in high school when I felt particularly down. I don’t recall particularly why, but I do remember feeling a loss of hope, that things wouldn’t get better, that they would only get worse, and there was nothing I, or anyone, could do to change that. In my moment of despair I read, “If ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity.” Why was I in despair? Was it some form of iniquity, some sin I was guilty of? As I considered this, I understood that the ‘iniquity’, or my error, was not some awful deed I had done. Rather, it was something more fundamental and simple.

My problem was a lack of faith in Jesus Christ. With faith in Him, there is hope of a brighter future. Without Him comes despair. With faith in Him comes knowledge that it does not matter what my past has been, only what my future can be. Faith in Christ is confidence in a Father in Heaven who loves me, without condition, and regardless of mistakes and slip-ups and imperfections. Faith brings a hope for a new start, a brighter future, a chance to try again and again, a chance to be clean of past errors. Faith and hope go together, inseparable. I believe in God. I believe Jesus Christ is the Savior of mankind. When I feel despair, I stop and remember to have a little more faith. I have faith that God can make me whole and clean and pure. I have hope that tomorrow is a new day and that I can be better than I was yesterday. Hope is my antidote to despair.