Last time I read Alma 29, I had a different understanding of it that shed some light on my own personal experiences. I was reminded of this again today, and wanted to get it written down. (I figured I might as well share!)
In Alma 29, Alma writes about his desire to share the gospel to every person, every nation. He writes:
O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth. But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.
I always felt that Alma was being too hard on himself. How is that a sin, to want to preach the gospel? And then I figured that his was a sin of ingratitude. Displeasing to the Lord, certainly, but not really on the same level as some of his previous sins.
Then I started looking at what Alma really wanted. Did he really want to be an angel? Or did he just want the opportunity to share his powerful testimony with every soul on earth? Being an angel, with all that heavenly power, was the only way he could see that his desire could be fulfilled.
But the Lord knew differently. Alma preached and bore testimony as he was able, and faithfully wrote on the plates as he had been commanded. And look what has happened. Because he obeyed the commands of the Lord, his powerful testimony has been translated into 82 languages and shared all over the world for more then 200 years as a part of the Book of Mormon. How many people has Alma influenced? Did he not get his wish, just in a different way than he could possibly foresee?
So what about me? I have tried for the last few years to move forward with a school--something I feel that is one of my special gifts. But all of *my* efforts at doing this have failed, even as I have tried to do so with the guidance of the Lord. Finally I have just given up. If the Lord wants me to be involved in starting a school, He's just going to have to make that happen. Silly me. That should have been my attitude all along. God has certainly given me the talents I want so much to use in His service. But I need to trust Him to provide the way. And just like with Alma, it probably won't look the way I think it should, simply because my understanding is so minute and finite. But hindsight is a wonderful thing. I can see as I look back that the Lord is active in my life, and is arranging things in such a way that I will have opportunity to use my talents to bless others, in ways that will be far more effective and far-reaching that anything I could imagine. I just need to let go of my idea and trust in His.
Turns out that Alma's sin (and mine) was not just ingratitude, it was also trusting in the arm of flesh. By wanting something and figuring that I know how to do it (and telling the Lord that this is the way it should be), I'm not putting my faith in Him. By "giving up" I have actually put myself in a position of greater power (because it's His power) to accomplish all these things. Instead of working for worldly goals, I am striving to stay in tune, to love my family, to strengthen my testimony, and be ready to serve however God wants me to. My focus, because it is on things of the Spirit (instead of on a huge, temporal project), is bringing me closer to my true desires than my efforts to accomplish them have ever done. It's a paradox, for sure. But it is also more peaceful, and more certain that what I want is on it's way.