Sister Alana McCormack is serving as a family history missionary in our ward. She spends a lot of her time being the kind of missionary who jumps across the veil from time to time. I love her willingness to quietly serve others. She is a smartie and I love her. Here is her talk from this past Sunday, which really made an impression on me…
My topic today is about how the people of Nephi prepared for the Saviours coming in 3rd Nephi and how we can adopt those lessons into our lives.
In 2nd Nephi 25 we read about the faithfulness of the Nephite people in preparing for the coming of Christ:
23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
24 And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.
25 For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments.
The people understood the need to practise the Law of Moses until such time as Christ came to the Earth and they followed this commandment with the intent of turning their hearts and minds to Christ standing Steadfast, having Faith in him alone so that not only they but their descendants would know that Christ is the light and the way to eternal life and happiness.
26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
However, during the time of the Nephite people, there were a lot of problems and eventually wickedness started to overtake them. 3rd Nephi shows us that social and spiritual conditions were in rapid decline with various degrees of wickedness eroding the Nephite society. Both the Nephites and Lamanites who were faithful believers of Christ and who, believed in prophesies given by Prophets such as Samuel the Lamanite had to endure unpleasant and difficult circumstances that tried their faith. They were mocked, outcast and even had the threat of death held over them should prophesies not come to pass.
During these times of wickedness the people were sent Prophets, Seers and Revelators who cried unto them yearning for them to come unto repentance, only a few took up this offer and came unto Christ. As with the beginning Chapters surrounding the signs of Christ’s birth, in 3rd Nephi Chapter 8, disputations among the people about the signs surrounding the Prophecies made by Samuel the Lamanite and others regarding Christ’s death began to occur, following which at the beginning of the 34th year the people were visited with so great a destruction that the whole face of the land changed, whole cities were burned, buried and destroyed beyond belief. The people then suffered through three days of an intense darkness that did not allow for any form of light to be seen or made.
Following these events the Saviour’s voice rang out in the darkness the first glimmer of hope since the destruction began. He spoke to the people of the destruction that had occurred and proclaimed that the remaining inhabitants of this land were the more righteous part of the people.
13 O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?
14 Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.
Upon hearing these words and the news that Christ would soon be coming to gather them together, the darkness began to lift and their cries of despair and anguish turned into joy. They listened to the words that they had heard and allowed themselves to see their fallen state and began to be humble through the process of repentance. The people began to turn themselves towards Christ by continually praying, meeting together often, sharing their substance, listening to the words and warnings of Prophets, not allowing their wealth and blessings to be a pedestal above others and looked forward with hope awaiting the time of Christ’s coming.
At the end of the 34th year that same year that had started with so much destruction and doom, the Saviour came to visit the people gathering them together to deliver and redeem them. The same people who at the beginning of all this destruction were spared because they were the only people not to stone or kill the Prophets had now become true followers of Christ reformed from their previous ways. How hard must that year have been for them? What trials and struggles must they have overcome and how can we can take their experiences to help us as we prepare for Christ’s second coming?
The growing shadow of wickedness that the Nephites experienced is something we see today on a worldwide scale. We see and hear on a daily basis of the impact of wars, rumours of wars, tyrants, destruction and many other heart wrenching events throughout the world. We hear about the followers of Christ as well as other religious denominations being mocked, persecuted, outcast and even killed for their beliefs.
Like the Nephites, we too have had and are continually having our Faith tested through various trials and hardships that we each face but we have also been given the tools to help us become as the people in 3rd Nephi who stood strong and steadfast and were received by Christ.
They were not perfect, they were called to repentance, but they took the first step and showed willingness, and openness to the teachings of the Prophets because of this they were spared and took the next steps in becoming truly converted, they were also given time and resources to make the changes they needed to receive him fully.
The Lord knows that we too are not perfect and has given many resources to help us make the changes we need to fully receive him. We have a living Prophet, the Quorum of the 12 Apostles as well as other Seers and revelators to warn us and guide us lovingly back to Christ. We have been told the signs and warnings of Christ’s arrival through prophecies in the Scriptures, we have the experiences of those in the scriptures as well as our ancestors who have left lessons that they learnt so that we could better ourselves and we have the first ordinances and principles of the Gospel as outlined in Article of Faith 4 to help us continue onward in our journey and so much more.
There are times in our lives that we can be too hard on ourselves, sometimes we see others and see them as people who are strong and rooted in the Gospel but have we been able to see what they’ve suffered through to be where they are now? Have we faced the hardships they endured or witnessed the changes they made to get to that strong and rooted person we now see? Do not hold yourself up against someone else you are an individual child of God who learns differently to others and needs things at different times to others. Be proud of what you achieve and never take someone else’s success to mean that you have failed, this is not and will never be the case.
In a world so fast paced, where the idea of things not being instant is almost frightening, we must learn to be patient. The changes made by the people in 3rd Nephi were not overnight changes and some of the things we face will not be over with in a day or a night. Don’t be discouraged because things aren’t going as fast as you want them to or everything in your life seems to be spiralling out of control, everything is done in the Lord’s time and we must remember to follow in the footsteps of the faithful people in 3rd Nephi and look at our shortcomings allowing ourselves to see where our weaknesses lie and take them to the Lord, knowing that through him you can be the person you were created to be.
We are blessed to have an eternal goal, to have the perspective of looking past the now. The journey on this Earth was never intended to be easy, even President Eyring said ‘If you are on the right path it will always be uphill’ end quote. When teaching with the Missionaries one day, an investigator asked ‘does being a Member of the Church make life easy?’ One of the Missionaries turned to him and said ‘No, it doesn’t make it easy but it makes it easier knowing that my Heavenly Father and Saviour are forever watching over me and that one day I can live in their presence knowing that the times of darkness are over and it was worth going through every single one to be back home.’
Something I find helpful to find some of my short comings is to fill out the Christ’s Attribute list in the Preach My Gospel handbook at least once a year but no more than twice. It has been a help to me over the years in seeing what areas I’ve excelled, which areas I’ve let slip or areas I still need to work on even if at times it is painful to admit.
I testify that as we follow in the footsteps of the faithful saints who have come before us and use the experiences of those in the Scriptures to guide our lives remembering to talk of Christ, rejoice in Christ and preach of Christ, coming to him not only during the dark times but also during times of peace and enduring to the end as we await to receive guidance and counsel in our lives that your individual light will shine and you will be a beacon to a world seeking to find the truth.