(WARNING: Religious Reflection and Rant Ahead. Proceed with caution.)

So, a couple of thoughts and cool “coincidences” in 1 Nephi, chapter 7 this morning.  (Are there really such things as coincidences when it comes to the gospel? I think when I contribute something to coincidence, I’m just trying to find a way to say, “Whoa, if God is behind this—and I'm having doubts He is—I would have to take it seriously and do something about it; so let’s just say He isn’t, and chalk this up to fate. That would make my life a whole lot easier.”)

Before I jump into the non-coincidence stuff, let me just say how bad I feel for Lehi and Sariah. Talk about a dysfunctional family. Here you have a prophet who has kids trying to beat, tie up, and kill their sibling. Talk about contention in the family. I know I shouldn’t take comfort in someone else’s misfortunes, but knowing a cool, inspired guy like Lehi had family issues (and rather bad ones), takes the pressure off me for achieving the “perfect family.” 

Anyway, after yet another sibling quarrel, Nephi gives one of his “why don’t you stand up and fly right” pep talks to Laman and Lemuel; and at the end of his rant (it was a good rant) he says in verse 15: “for the Spirit of the Lord constraineth me that I should speak …”

Constraineth. Hmm. I wondered just what that meant. So I pulled up my trusty 1828 Webster’s Dictionary ( “Why Webster’s 1828” you ask? Well, folks, when the Prophet Joseph translated the Book of Mormon, the words in Webster’s 1828 were the words of his day, and no doubt the translation was in terms Joseph best understood. And if you compare some of the word meanings of his day, against our day, sometimes there are slight differences.

Anyhow, the world “Constrained” means the following: Urged irresistibly or powerfully; compelled; forced; bound; necessitated. To my limited understanding, our pal, Nephi, HAD to tear into Laman and Lemuel— the two who had helped  to create the yin and yang in the family.

I suppose when you’re of the caliber of Nephi, being constrained by the Spirit means you MUST open your mouth and say what the Lord wants you to say, whether your audience likes it or not, and whether it puts your life in danger or not. (Case in point: Abinadi and Samuel the Lamanite. I would say they were constrained, the latter fairing better in the end than the former… How hot was that fire, Abinadi?)

Now, given I have delivered my rant on the word “constraineth,”, let’s jump across the column in 1 Nephi 7 to the 21st verse. Ishmael’s daughter (I wonder, did she marry Nephi after this? my romantic self wants to know), and her mother (it stands to reason this woman became Nephi’s mother-in-law at some point—the pool of women to choose a bride from was pretty small for Nephi. either he married a sister [eww], or one of Ishmael’s girls), and one of Ishmael’s sons (a soon to be brother-in-law), talked Laman and Lemuel out of beating up Nephi. Their powers of persuasion must have been pretty good, because Laman and Lemuel were “sorrowful,” did “bow down before” Nephi, and “plead” for forgiveness. I really wonder what in the world those people in Ishmael’s family said? Could they give a fireside in persuasive discourse?

Anyway, moving on, Nephi, being the good kid he was, responded to his brothers in this way: “I did frankly forgive them.” Cool, right? But, as is my pattern, I was snagged by a word, this time, “frankly.” I asked myself, “Self, what would Webster have to say about the word ‘frankly’?”

This is what Webster had to say, “Frankly: openly; freely; ingenuously; without reserve, CONSTRAINT, or disguise …” “What?!” says I, “there is that word again? Self, what could this possibly mean??”

Self has this thought: just as the Spirit can urge us forcefully to speak, we are also urged to forgive without being forced, and to forgive without bounds or restrictions. Seventy times seven, the Lord tells us. (Interesting side note: the number seven means “complete.” Think on that for awhile.)

I’m Irish. There is a joke among those of us who are of Irish descent: “What is Irish Alzheimers? You forget everything but the grudges.” Most of us who have had an Irish relative know just what this means. But taking the counsel I got from two words on one page of the Book of Mormon this morning, my lesson is clear: “Sue, when your little feelings are hurt, or you’re offended, the Spirit constraineth you to frankly forgive without constraints.”

Must Be.

(WARNING: Religious Reflection Ahead.)

A phrase in 1 Nephi 7:13 reached out and grabbed me this morning:  “… and ye shall know at some future period, that the word of the Lord shall be fulfilled concerning the destruction of Jerusalem: for all things which the Lord hath spoken concerning the destruction of Jerusalem must be fulfilled.”

Now, I’m not all hung up on the “destruction of Jerusalem” part—what’s done is done—but what got my attention was:  “ye shall know at some future period,” and, “must be fulfilled.

Sometimes it’s a bummer that God works on the principle of faith. That I have to believe before I receive. “You want a witness? Show me you believe in one before I give it to you.” Seems backwards, but it’s how God works. I guess it builds character, or something like that. I guess it’s like planting a seed and knowing it will sprout. Course I have to water faith and belief with prayer,  patience, trust, hope, and thought; but do that, and eventually a witness or answer will sprout. Then there is God’s timetable, which is horribly contrary to my own, but that’s another subject. 

Now the “must be fulfilled” part in the verse. I really thought about that. It doesn’t say, “will be,” “could be,” “might be,” or, “should be.” No, it’s “MUST be.” What does that mean to me? That there is no choice in the matter. The choice was made when the declaration was made. It will happen. It has to. This is integrity at its finest. The kind of integrity our world has little concept of today. I think of the Prophet Joseph, who said of the First Vision, “I knew it, and I knew God knew it, and I could not deny it.” Powerful integrity stuff. 

I also remember what the Savior said to the Nephites when He appeared to them after His resurrection, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.” If I’m a prophet, and for years I have promised that something “must be,” I would think it rather cool that the first thing the Lord does when He shows up is validate me. 

I’ve been thinking about the kids in my class—I do that a lot. I want them to understand they can ask God for answers, and now I want them to get the concept of integrity when it comes to making promises. If you make one, it’s as good as keeping it. When Nephi caught Zoram and asked him to come along with the family and take off into the wilderness (“Hey, don’t want to be a servant?  Laban is dead anyway, so what’s the point? Come along with us! Freedom! And you won’t get destroyed along with Jerusalem!” Nothing was said about wandering, camping, building a boat, or sailing across the ocean—I suppose those were details the boys didn’t need to know at the time), all Zoram had to do was make an oath, and BAM, he was trusted and off they went into the wilds. What kind of power did one’s word have back then? What kind of power does is have now? Neither one of us has to make a comment on that, we both know the answer. 

So proof requires trust and patience; and integrity requires honesty and follow-through. Seems like a lot of work. But I have faith it works, and am committed to keep my word. (Will I screw up? Probably to some degree. But then we have that whole repentance/atonement stuff, which is a whole ‘nother subject for a whole ‘nother time.)


(WARNING: Religious Reflection Ahead.)

I realized something the other day: Our Father in Heaven is a God of addition. 

From what I have observed, Heavenly Father is always trying to add something to us. No matter where we are, what we believe, don’t believe, or what we are doing, God is trying to make us more than what we presently are. Even if we have no idea who He is, or do know of Him, but have no intentions of obeying Him, He is reaching out to us and trying to teach us—add to us. Never does God ignore us or give up on us. He believes in our potential, even if we have no idea that we have any. 

And because of our spiritual DNA, we as His children are always trying to be more and do more, whether we acknowledge it or not. We are beings that have the desire to create, obtain, improve, and grow. Even on days we stay in our pajamas and mold in front of a television or computer, we don’t live in stasis. We are not designed that way. Every day we inch towards being more than we were yesterday. This growth, or “addition,” may be so small it’s imperceptible, but it’s happening nonetheless. 

I don’t do math. It is not in my wheelhouse; but I do know the principle of addition when it comes to God’s children. It happens every day, to every one of us, and it’s all because of our heavenly Parentage.