We’ve been reading one of my favorite stories of the Book of Mormon in our family scripture study. It’s in Helaman 8 & 9, as the Nephites are ridiculing Nephi’s lamentations about their wickedness, and he announces the murder of the chief judge and the name of the murderer in an account that’s worthy of a TV crime series.
Of particular interest to me this morning was what happens in Chapter 9 when the Nephites outside Nephi’s garden send five men to check out the story. Of course they find the judge slain. They had previously agreed that if they found what Nephi said they’d find, they would believe him and believe he was a prophet.
Of course, they find just what Nephi said they’d find. They believe him, and his other prophecies concerning their people’s wickedness, they are overcome by the spirit and (of course) they faint.
Others come to the judgment seat, find the dead judge and the fainted five, and logically assume it is the five who have killed the judge. (Frankly, I say logically, but the logic escapes me; Columbo would never have fallen for that. If you don’t know who Columbo is, Google it. Or ask an Older Person.)
What’s remarkable to me in these verses (verses 1-9 if you’d like to review them) is the imperfect vision with which all the actors see.
The five men are leaning toward belief, but only if they see the evidence; when they see it, they believe. The people at Nephi’s garden do not believe (and some even question if he was in league with Seantum when Nephi turns out to be right). The people at the judgement seat immediately see the five Nephites as the murderers. Each group operates on limited vision.
Each one, that is, except Nephi. He knows what he says is true. He knows he is right about the Nephites and their righteousness. He knows he is right about Seezoram’s murder. He knows he is right about Seantum’s guilt. And there’s a good reason: Nephi is the prophet.
It makes me think about the things I do with limited vision. I overhear my children bickering in the next room and think I know the “just” solution. I respond to political arguments with my point of view. I make decisions based on my own analysis of circumstances without perfect knowledge of potential outcomes.
Just as I would not try to function without my glasses, so I should not try to function without spiritual glasses, without the benefit of those whose vision is less limited than mine. I can listen to prophets who have a longer view (even if they do not share it completely). I can read the Lord’s words in the scriptures. I can seek divine guidance in prayer and enjoy the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. I can humbly accept my own limitations and do everything I can to mitigate them. And I can hope for the Lord’s mercy in making up the difference when my efforts are inadequate.
BTW, you can read my latest post at Real Intent, "On Losing Our Religion," here.