Sunday, July 19, 2009

:::Day 2 -- Spiritual Sensitivity:::

D Art Crackeleur Capital Letter Y & Curtain (Silver Spring, MD) 2

Today I want to share with you a story from Alma that has taught me what it means to be sensitive to the Spirit.

Beginning in Alma 9, Alma, the prophet, and Amulek are in the land of Ammonihah preaching to the people there. They have been met with a good deal of contention from the people and their leaders, culminating in chapter 14 with Alma and Amulek being captured, bound, and cast into prison. While in captivity they are subjected to a false trial where people come forth and testified against them to the chief judge.

After the trial, and while still in the custody of these wicked men, Alma and Amulek are spit upon, then stoned by the people of Ammonihah.

Now we are at Alma 14:8, and this is where the lesson of spiritual sensitivity is taught.

As soon as the trial is over, the precious converts that Alma and Amulek had preached to were gathered together and cast into a fire --

8. "And they brought their wives and children together, and whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they caused that they should be cast into the fire..."

I can't imagine the physical pain they must have felt, and the cries of anguish that must have filled the air and the ears of Alma and Amulek. Not only do they have to hear these cries, but they are forced to watch these saints be burned in the fires --

9. And it came to pass that they took Alma and Amulek, and carried them forth to the place of martyrdom, that they might witness the destruction of those who were consumed by fire."

So, what would your reaction be? I know I would flip out. Their whole experience of preaching in Ammonihah has been very emotionally charged, from the style of preaching they were doing, to their captivity and bondage, to their sham of a trial, their stoning, and now finally to the torturous death of their people. To add insult to injury, the people of Ammonihah were also throwing the scriptures into the fire. Confrontation, captivity, bondage, mocking, stoning, death -- Alma and Amulek no doubt were filled with ten thousand emotions at this point.

In Alma 14:10, Amulek asks the question that I think all of us would ask at this point, "How can we witness this awful scene?" He then suggests to Alma, "Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames."

What would your response be? Mine would be, "Yes. Let's do whatever we need to, we have to stop this right away." Wouldn't you say the same thing? But Alma, who I might add was a man full of love, compassion, and charity, said, "The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand."

That, to me, shows the strength of Alma's sensitivity to the Spirit. For him to be able to ignore his surging emotions, to hold his hand back and say, "The Spirit constraineth me," is almost beyond my comprehension. In all of the chaos that Alma and Ammulek were in, for the prophet to be able to hear a spiritual pin drop is amazing to me. For him to have the power to fight against everything he was feeling and stay his hand shows how sensitive Alma was to the Spirit, and how dedicated he was to listening to the still, small voice.

I don't have that spiritual sensitivity. If I was standing there and witnessing what they saw, sadly, I don't think I would have even asked the Lord what I should be doing, let alone be waiting to receive a message from the Spirit. I think I would go on autopilot, assuming that what I felt to be right (and saving people is right) was the right thing to do in that situation.

"The Spirit constraineth me." I think about that a lot now. I've been trying to recognize situations where I don't even ask what I should be doing because I think it's so obvious what the right thing is. Again, saving people is the right thing to do, but it wasn't the right thing to do in that situation.

How many times do I just assume to know what the Lord would have me do? So many times we can get by with automatically doing what we think is right, but what about that one time where the Lord would have us do something that was completely counter-intuitive? What would happen if we didn't listen?

In every situation I am in, every single one, I need seek the Lord's counsel by being willing and ready to listen to the Spirit, even if doing so goes against all of the natural emotions I am feeling. The Lord is not upper management that signs approval on the plans that we make. Instead, He rightfully should be consulted before we even begin. We can have His constant discerning power with us if we are willing to listen to the Spirit at all times.

If I am dedicated to the Spirit on a regular basis, He will continue to speak to me. I will become more and more attuned to the way He speaks, and what He is saying. Then, in chaotic or emotionally charged situations, I can have the same sensitivity that Alma displayed when he fought his own emotions so that He could do what the Lord would have Him do.


emilysuze said...

I really enjoyed this post. It's something I've been thinking about a lot since our bishopric keeps "hinting" to us that we need to be in the temple prep class so we can hurry up and get sealed--I want to be in a place where I am more spiritually sensitive before I leap into making those covenants in the temple.

Oh to be a sweet and simple child again.

emilysuze said...


1) I no longer send out the emails because I made my blog public again, so I felt bad inundating inboxes with email updates.

2) Once I go back to work, I have an entire list of items I want to buy from Etsy. I'm in love.

Jill said...

This is a great post Rebekah! It's hard for me to think of the horror of these events as well, and it seems so unjust. I have a tendency to think we're all entitled to go about our business and live our lives the way we want to, but that's not really true. The Lord has a plan for our lives, and if we're fortunate enough to have testimonies of the gospel and then a life cut far shorter than what we'd planned on then so be it. I'm positive the next life is far better than this one, and that would definitely cushion the blow.

I made a note in my Sunday notebook today that I need to pray to feel the Spirit more often AND recognize it when I do.

michelle said...

I love your deep thoughts here! I always have this same reaction when I read about Nephi killing Laban. How counter-intuitive is that?! Your insights about hearing a spiritual pin drop really hit home to me. I have a long way to go...

Sarah said...

I'm going to read that section to Sunshine tonight. We read an article in the Friend today that is about safety from danger if we head the Spirit, even if we think we should do something else.