Alma 34This is another chapter I encountered on my daily quest through the Topical Guide, my core curriculum on Christ. I read the prescribed verse in the topical guide (Alma 34:8 "He shall atone for the sins of the world"), scanned the surrounding verses for context, and was completely enthralled as though I were reading it all again through fresh eyes (even though I've probably read it a hundred times before.) I found three instances of Chiasmus (Hebrew poetry form that repeats itself in reverse like an X, with the most crucial part of the message at its core); and I also discovered THE KEY to opting into (or out of) the great plan of happiness.
Here we go:
Another stunning discovery in my quest for spiritual growth is how essential it is to turn a corner and repent of wrongdoings. Honestly, sometimes I forget about repentance. If I haven't done something seriously wrong, it kind of falls off my radar screen. But two scriptures in Alma 34 completely changed my perspective on this:
In verse 16 it says:
"...Mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.
Without faith unto repentance (the kind of faith that brings you to your knees and brings about a change of heart) Mercy no longer has us in its grasp. The next line is even stronger and more clear: "only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption."
In other words, No repentance = No plan.
That's right, the amazing plan that our Father in Heaven presented to us before we ever came to earth, the plan to bring us back home to him someday, glorified and exalted, the plan which prophets have called "The Great and Eternal Plan of Redemption," "The Great Plan of Happiness," "The Great Plan of Mercy," "The Plan of Restoration," "The Great Plan of Salvation,"...that's right—a plan so big and important and powerful and loving no single title even does it justice—that plan has no effect in our lives if we're not exercising faith and repenting.
Why did I never notice that before? It's the key to everything. Believe. Repent. Or you're not even part of the plan.
Thank heaven in verse 31 there's some hope for those of us who are a little slow to catch on.
"...if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you."
That is so cool! Just when we thought it was too late and we are completely locked out of the plan...all we have to do is repent, and immediately the whole plan takes effect in our lives. We're back in!
It's so simple. But so hard.
So of course as soon as I learn this concept, I'm given extra opportunities to repent. That's always the way it works, isn't it?
I offended a good friend. (And who knows how many others who didn't speak up?) I had a student confess a wrongdoing that made me feel guilty just by osmosis. I snapped at my husband. I got impatient with other drivers. I dropped balls.
Here's what I learned. Repenting is hard. But it's easier than it is in our minds when we feel it looming on the horizon. And it's easier than procrastinating that hard conversation, that apology, that confession, the resolve to improve. It's definitely easier than carrying the weight and the burden of the errors and mistakes. And for sure it's better and easier than being ejected from the great plan of happiness. That would be horrible!
So I'm opting in. I want to be part of the great eternal plan of mercy, redemption and love. I choose to exercise my faith. I choose to repent. I choose happiness.
QUESTION: How do you make repentance a part of your daily life?