As I child, I devoured the Book of Mormon reader every Saturday afternoon. Sometimes, just to shake things up, I listened to the accompanying audio cassette. I found myself lost in a land of long-ago where people just came across as unteachable and, really, when you come to think of it, quite dumb. I confess now that as a child I had no inclination to ponder on how condensed this account was of such a mighty people. I mean, there was really no break-down of the everyday nitty-gritty. So, my untrained mind just saw a bunch of people that I just could not relate to.
Fast forward a few decades, and here I sit with a kind of apprehension when I reflect on just how often my Savior has had to nudge me back into the fold. I can say without hesitation right now that the source of my failures is my refusal to recognize how like the Nephites and Lamanites of old I am. I mean, seriously. If I was being completely and utterly honest, I would say that I am like Laman and Lemuel more often than I am like Nephi. I murmur, I forget the significance of the spiritual gifts that I have been blessed with and I need to be compelled every so often to be faithful.
In some ways, I wish that I could have followed the life story of just one person in the Book of Mormon and shared their trial and triumphs to see how alike and how different we are. If I had a choice, these would be my top 5: (in no particular order)
- King Lamoni
- Moroni (I’ll cheat here and count 2 as 1 for both Captain Moroni and Moroni)
Shoot! Now I want to make it my top 10… but that would just mean I’d keep going. So, I’ll just be firm with myself and stop there.
I chose Abinadi because I was blown away as a child when I first read his story. One of my favorite (of many) Book of Mormon images is this one of Abinadi in the Court of King Noah
I love studying this picture: the opulence of Noah’s environment, the bedraggled appearance of Abinadi, the expressions on the faces of the priests, the expressions on the faces of Noah and Abinadi… I could just go on and on. I’ve said it a million times before and I’ll say it forever, ‘I wish I knew Abinadi!’. He is one of my first scripture heroes. I would love to have had a glimpse of his childhood, seen how he was molded into a powerful prophet who spoke boldly of his convictions in his testimony of Jesus Christ. Did he have a family? Did he hesitate to go on this mission, understanding what the outcome could have been? What were his weaknesses and how did he overcome them? So much to ask…
I chose King Lamoni for a few reason. One of them being that he was a Lamanite. Then there were his many experiences with Ammon (another favorite of mine), and last but not least, because of the impact his conversion had on the lives of so many people. I would have loved to explore the childhood of a royal Lamanite and study how it would differ from those of Nephite children. How was the distrust and hatred toward their Nephite brethren ingrained in them? How was he prepared to receive the truths that Ammon was destined to bring into his life? Wouldn’t that be an amazing read?!
Nephi would have to be one of the most obvious choices and yet, what a wealth of experiences we could draw from him. There were the epic journeys, the care and tutelage of Father Lehi, the struggles and eventual emancipation from his older brothers, and so so much more! I also would have loved to see how life in Jerusalem would have been for his family. Can you imagine how amazing it would have been if Nephi had a blog!?
I chose the Moronis because I just LOVE them! I wonder how Captain Moroni’s wife and kids handled his long absences when he was away defending them and their liberty. For someone who is fascinated by all things medievel and ancient warfare, a journal of Captain Moroni’s undertakings would be priceless to me! What were his short-comings? Did he have any short-comings? And Moroni, son of Mormon – the last of a great and covenant people. Ah, to have followed him through his days – the all-consuming warfare, the moral and spiritual decline of his people, the fact that he had Mormon for a father! … I could just go on and on and on and (again) … Was his loneliness as bleak as I imagine it would be? Did he ever consider giving up? What does it mean for someone like me, caught up in my own loneliness, to think of the crushing loneliness he lived through?
Not much has been shared about the women who shaped the lives of all these amazing men. Can imagine being the mother of Abinadi? I bet she couldn’t be prouder if she tried! One of the few women mentioned in the Book of Mormon was Sariah. She played a pivotal role in the exodus from Jerusalem. Can you imagine being the matriarch of that entourage? My head spins just trying to wrap my head around that idea. For starters, she was the mother of Nephi!! … and Laman and Lemuel and she bore two sons in the wilderness! That, in and of itself, would make a good read! Then there was her life in Jerusalem, a life, which by all accounts, would have probably been a life of relative ease because we know that the were quite well-off in Jerusalem. It would be wonderful to have a woman’s perspective on leaving the comforts of Jerusalem, on travelling for years through the wilderness, on watching your older sons turn on your younger son to the point of almost taking his life, on supporting your visionary husband, and on life in the Promised Land.
o, that’s about all I have to share on that, for now. I bet that if we did have a pervasive look at even one of these lives, we’d find them going through similar highs and lows and everything in between that goes on in our lives. Having said that, I have a profound admiration for these people and their conviction in their testimony of Jesus Chirst. How grateful I am for their resounding testimony which adds strength to mine. And how grateful I am that no matter how condensed, that they did keep records.
Are you going to keep a record of your trials and triumphs, no matter how brief? Who knows who will draw strength from it?