I was reading Mosiah 27 today, where it introduces into the picture the sons of Mosiah and Alma the younger, and it got me to thinking about what their situation could teach me.
These were my ponderings. I thought maybe someone out there might need to hear them…
Many times when a child goes astray in the church, we secretly judge (and blame) the parents.
We think that perhaps the lack of faith and the unrighteousness of the child is a reflection of the failure of the parents. If only they were more stalwart, this wouldn’t have happened – right?
It’s a common, and all too easy, judgment that many have made. Including, I am ashamed to say, myself.
But it is wrong, and The Book of Mormon as well as the Bible put any debate to rest.
Yes, bad parenting can lead a child to lose themselves. Entire peoples have been led astray due to false traditions and lack of teaching. Just look at the Lamanites.
But upstanding, righteous parents are not exempt from the heartache of watching a child who was taught correct principles reject them.
Some of the best men to ever live, our prophets, had children abandon the truths they had been taught.
Lehi, Mosiah, and Alma from the Book of Mormon. Adam, Isaac, Jacob, and David from the Bible- to name a few.
Even God Himself had a son reject Him, when Lucifer fell from heaven. He who had been taught perfectly by the greatest father of them all.
So it’s really not our place to judge those parents who have to live with the anguish of watching their child walk away.
It has happened to the best.
For those of you going through this trial, remember that you are in good company. God knows exactly what it feels like to lose a child to forbidden paths. He knows what it’s like to watch them turn away, knowing full well the consequences yet being unable to stop them. He knows the pain better than anyone. His son Lucifer, and those who followed him, can never come back.
But because of the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ, you do not have to give up hope. None of your loved ones are truly lost, and there is always a chance for redemption.
Those stories, too, litter the pages of the standard works. Stories of repentance, and mercy, and softened hearts. Stories of men who seemed all but lost turning to Christ and living anew.
In its heart, the scriptures are full of hope. They are a physical testimony of the change and redemption that Christ brings.
Saul went from persecuting Christians, and having them killed, to becoming (perhaps without debate) the greatest missionary to ever live.
Alma committed grievous sins of every kind, and yet – after a change of heart and sincere repentance- he become a prophet, leading the people to Christ and bearing a powerful personal testimony of the atonement
Ammon, who as a youth went among his people trying to destroy the church of God, went on to perform miracles in His name and convert hundreds.
None of these men were lost, but I’ll bet there were moments in their lives when any one of us would have thought they were.
Remember that “it is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.”
And when we utilize the Atonement, and allow Christ to heal us, something amazing happens.
He can take our sins, and our shortcomings, and turn them into a tool to bless. The memory of our mistakes can allow us to teach and to testify in a way that only those who have fallen, and been redeemed, can.
Who better to teach about the power of the atonement than those who have used it?
Who better to testify of the power and beauty of the light than those who have lived in the dark?
And so, let’s not look at those who go astray as lost causes. Lets not get caught up in pointing fingers and finding people to blame. Instead, let us see their potential and know that- if they choose it- this experience can allow them to become a powerful force for good.
Perhaps, someday, they will look back on that period of darkness and identify it as the mechanism that allowed them to see the light.
So it has been for some of the best.