CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 22.
Now that King Limhi and Ammon are caught up on the news of what happened to the group of people who left Zarahemla and now find themselves subjected to the Lamanites, they begin to make a plan of escape, or “how they should deliver themselves out of bondage” (verse 1).
Importantly, they gather the people together “that they might have the voice of the people concerning the matter” (verse 1). I think this is significant in light of it having been Zeniff ignoring the input of others (pride!) that got them into this mess in the first place.
The people agree that because there are so many of the Lamanites, there is no way they can win a direct confrontation or battle with them by war. The only chance they have is to escape through the wilderness and just get away from them (verse 2).
This is when Gideon steps up again, reminding king Limhi that his counsel has been good in the past (verse 3), and so asks permission to present a plan that will help the people escape (verse 4). King Limhi grants permission (verse 5), and Gideon shares his idea:
“Behold the back pass, through the back wall, on the back side of the city. The Lamanites, or the guards of the Lamanites, by night are drunken; therefore let us send a proclamation among all this people that they gather together their flocks and herds, that they may drive them into the wilderness by night” (verse 6).
So the plan is that Gideon will take their best wine to the Lamanites in tribute, so that the Lamanites celebrate and become extra-drunk, and then the people can escape while they sleep it off (verses 7-8).
King Limhi liked this plan! (verse 9).
So while the people packed their things and gathered their flocks and children, Gideon sent a tribute of wine to the Lamanites. This was both the wine that they owed, having to give half of everything to the Lamanites, as well as more wine as a gift, like a tip. The Lamanites celebrated, drinking and drinking and drinking (verse 10).
“And it came to pass that the people of King Limhi did depart by night into the wilderness with their flocks and their herds… towards the land of Zarahemla, being led by Ammon…” (verse 11).
The people brought with them all their provisions, as well as their valuable things, as much as they could carry on the journey (verse 12).
The Lamanites did chase them down when they sobered up, but could not catch up and could not follow their tracks (verses 15 and 16). King Limhi and his people were able to escape.
After many days of travel in the wilderness, they arrived safely in the land of Zarahemla, reunited with their own people (Nephites), and joining them as subjects of King Mosiah who had sent Ammon and the search party after them (verse 13).
“And it came to pass that Mosiah received them with joy; and he also received their records, and also the records which had been found by the people of Limhi” (verse 14).
CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 21.
Now that the Lamanites understand that Limhi and his people did not kidnap their daughters, peace is declared and the Lamanites back off. Limhi and his people are able to again live in peace (verse 1).
When the war is done, and the weapons are “buried”, let it go. Keep the peace.
But the Lamanites couldn’t leave things alone, until they “began again to be stirred up in anger against the Nephites” (verse 2). Their king promised Lehi that they wouldn’t kill him or his people, so the Lamanites turn into bullies instead. They do everything but kill the people:
“Now they durst not slay them, because of the oath which their king had made unto Limhi; but they would smite them on their cheeks, and exercise authority over them; and began to put heavy burdens upon their backs…” (verse 3).
This takes us right back to Mosiah 12:2, where Abinadi prophesied that this would happen:
“because of their iniquities, shall be brought into bondage, and shall be smitten on the cheek; yea and shall be driven by men…”
“Yea, all this was done that the word of the Lord might be fulfilled” (verse 4).
It was so fulfilled, in fact, that they were surrounded by the Lamanites (verse 5).
Realizing they are surrounded by Lamanites declaring war, the Nephites react in fear instead of acting on faith. Instead of recognizing the prophecy being fulfilled and using the situation as an opportunity to repent and turn to the Lord, they forget that the Lord has the power to deliver them. They think they are alone, and so “begin to murmur with the king because of their afflictions” (verse 6).
We know from Nephi and his brothers that murmuring never works.
But they bothered the king so much that, like with spoiled, badly behaved children, he just let them do what they wanted (verse 6).
And so the Nephites gathered themselves together, but instead of gathering for the Temple or for Conference or for celebrations of peace, the people ignored the warnings of their leader and gathered for war… putting on armor instead of Temple clothes (verse 7). This was the wrong kind of gathering.
Because this was not a gathering in the name of the Lord, the people were squashed!
“And it came to pass that the Lamanites did beat them, and drove them back, and slew many of them” (verse 8).
So the contrast continues: instead of gathering for the Temple and rejoicing in the peace and blessings that come from uniting with those they love, the people gathered for war and so they mourned the loss of those loved.
“And now there was a great mourning and lamentation among the people of Limhi…” (verse 9).
There were many who lost sons, husbands, and fathers.
“Now there were a great many widows in the land, and they did cry mightily from day to day…” (verse 10).
Because it’s the widows and orphans who are husband-less and father-less.
It’s the widows and orphans who do not have access to the Priesthood in their home.
That’s why it’s so important.
It’s not just about temporal needs, but also spiritual needs.
It’s about access to the Priesthood.
“And it came to pass that their continual cries did stir up the remainder of the people of Limhi to anger…” (verse 11).
Their counter-attack didn’t work because they are still thinking temporally.
They are not realizing that the women’s cries come from the heart, and that they need to respond in a spiritual way. Finally, after a third try, those who are left start to realize what has gone terribly wrong.
“And they did humble themselves even to the dust, subjecting themselves to the yoke of bondage, submitting themselves to be smitten…” (verse 13).
This was not a giving up.
This was a recognizing the pattern of what had happened, and accepting their natural consequences.
It’s like a toddler child, who finally goes to sit in their time out chair. They aren’t giving up, but they know it is their consequence and the best way out is to serve their time and be back on the playground.
“And they did humble themselves even in the depths of humility; and they did cry mightily unto God; yea, even all the day long did they cry unto their God that he would deliver them out of their afflictions” (verse 14).
That’s all well and good, but these are not random afflict ions that have the purpose of reminding them to call on the Lord for help.
These are not unrelated events that provide a way to look to the Lord.
These are the natural consequences of having removed them from the safety of the provision and protection of the Lord.
Because they chose to go, the Lord is “slow to hear their cry” (verse 15).
Note that it isn’t because He doesn’t want to help, and it’s not because He is unable.
But they have so far removed themselves from Him, that it literally takes a while for Him to hear them through all the mess they have caused.
This is not because of His ability or inability, but because of the work they themselves must do to humble themselves and submit to praying for help and acknowledging the Lord after not having done so all this time.
So He does hear them, it just takes them a while to really make it sincere.
“… nevertheless the Lord did hear their cries, and began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites… yet the Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage” (verse 15).
The Lord does hear their cries for help, and He does help them.
But helping them means strengthening them to be able to endure their own natural consequences that will teach them and bring them back to Him.
Helping here does not mean doing for them or helping the avoid the consequences or rescue them before they acknowledge who it is that is doing the rescuing.
But He does immediately bless them.
Because they have called upon Him for provision, He provides them “grain more abundantly, and flocks, and herds…” (verse 16).
This is their temporal lesson that will teach the spiritual lesson.
Since the war, there are now more women than men. King Limhi “commanded that every man should impart to the support of the widows and their children, that they might not perish with hunger” (verse 17).
This is a move that requires action. It requires the people, who are now stirred up in remembering the Lord, it requires them to now act in response to that knowledge. It wakes them up, and calls them to action.
In the meantime, the people of Limhi stick close together, for fear of being kidnapped or killed, and they protect their grains and flocks as well (verse 18). Even King Limhi did not trust anyone but his closest guards (verse 19).
But now, because they are acting in fear instead of acting in faith, the fear grows.
Now instead of just being worried about the Lamanites, they also start to be afraid of the missing false-priests who had done the real kidnapping (verse 20).
It’s not entirely unfounded, however, as the Lamanites had “come into the land of Nephi by night, and carried off their grain and many of their precious things…” (verse 21).
This is the background, the greater context, of why the people freaked out so badly when Ammon and his search party (verse 22) showed up in Mosiah 8, long before these last thirteen chapters became such an interlude (verse 23).
This is why King Limhi so quickly assumed Ammon the prophet was a bad guy (verse 23). But when he found out Ammon was not the bad guy, and actually from the land of Zarahemla, “he was filled with exceedingly great joy” (verse 24).
But his joy gets even exceedingly-er and great-er when he discovers through Ammon the prophet that his king, King Mosiah, has a gift from God to interpret the plates (verses 27-28) that his search party had brought back from the wilderness (verses 25-26). This is all bringing us right back to Mosiah 8 again, weaving back into the story where we left off prior to Limhi telling the history of his people.
“And now Limhi was again filled with joy on learning from the mouth of Ammon that king Mosiah had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings; yea, and Ammon also did rejoice” (verse 28).
That is good news for them, and gives hope for relief and a promise of no longer being alone.
But Ammon and his group mourn for those who lost their lives to pay the price of iniquity in the recent wars (verse 29). They also mourn for King Noah and his false priests, and how they “caused the people to commit so many sins and iniquities against God” (verse 30). They also mourned for the death of Abinadi (verse 30).
That is a lot of grief.
But the important thing is that King Limhi and his people have, finally, humbled themselves and turned to the Lord and are now prepared to become His covenant people… “for they themselves had entered into a covenant with God to serve him and keep his commandments” (verse 31)… “And … King Limhi had also entered into a covenant with God, and also many of his people, to serve him and keep his commandments” (verse 32).
Because they want to enter the covenant, they must be baptized.
“And it came to pass that King Limhi and many of his people were desirous to be baptized…” (verse 32). But because there is no one with the proper authority (through the Priesthood) to do the baptizing, the people have to wait “on the Spirit of the Lord” (verse 34). They work hard to keep their passion for their covenants going, even wanting so much “to become even as Alma and his brethren, who had fled into the wilderness” (verse 34).
“They were desirous to be baptized as a witness and a testimony that they were willing to serve God with all their hearts…” (verse 35).
It’s that simple: love.
CLICK HERE to read Mosiah 20.
Remember how in the last chapter, the bad King Noah was killed, but some of his false priests got away? This chapter is about what those bad guys did, closing up the last loose end of what happened to get King Limhi’s people in the situation they are in.
The context is these bad guys hiding out in the wilderness, near the borders of Lamanite land.
And here there was a place “where the daughters of the Lamanites did gather themselves to sing, and to dance, and to make themselves merry” (verse 1).
So it happens that a group of these girls go out to this place to play (verse 2), and the bad guys are hiding out and see them and watch them (verses 3-4).
When the girls were vulnerable because there were only a few of them, the bad guys came out and kidnapped the girls out to the wilderness (verse 5).
The Lamanites soon noticed, of course, but they didn’t know about the bad guys still being on the loose, so they blamed the people of Limhi (verse 6). They sent their armies after them, even with the king himself leading the charge (verse 7).
Limhi discovered the preparations for war, but not yet knowing why his people were being attacked, and so prepared for the oncoming assault (verse 8).
Limhi’s people hid in the woods, and as the Lamanites came through, they attacked from their hiding places (verse 9). It was an intense battle! (verse 10). There were more Lamanites than there were of Limhi’s people, but they fought hard (verse 11). The Lamanites began to flee, even leaving their injured king behind (verse 12).
Limhi’s people found the injured king, and brought him to Limhi (verse 13). They wanted to kill him, but Limhi wouldn’t let them because he wanted to question the king as to why the Lamanites were attacking his people (verse 14).
When the king told Limhi it was because of the kidnapped daughters (verse 15), Limhi was surprised because they hadn’t yet heard the news that this had happened. He ordered a search among the people to see who had kidnapped the Lamanite daughters (verse 16).
Gideon is the one who figured out what had happened. He went to Limhi to plead with him not to blame the people for this, because it was the kind of evil thing that the false-priests-who-got-away would do (verses 17-18). He urged Limhi to explain this to the Lamanite king, so that the Lamanites would stop attacking Limhi’s people (verses 19-20).
Further, Gideon pointed out how this battle fulfilled the prophesies of Abinadi, that the people would suffer and be destroyed “because we would not hearken unto the words of the Lord, and turn from our iniquities” (verse 21). In this way, Gideon not only solved the case but also urged the people to repent and return to the Lord (verse 22).
Limhi told all this to the Lamanite king, including the whole story about the bad King Noah who was killed and his false priests who got away, and gave the king Gideon’s theory about it being these false priests who kidnapped the daughters of the Lamanites (verse 23).
This theory made sense to the Lamanite king, and called off the war (verse 24).
This brought peace to both peoples, even so much as the Lamanites returning to their own land (verse 26).
Mama, my ears aren’t working!
This is what tiny brown fingers sign to me as we are leaving Nathan’s friends’ home.
Mary pulls off the external component of her cochlear implant, the part where the magnet is, and where the computer is, and where the battery is, and shows me the wrong color of light blinking.
Your battery is dead, I explain, and show her how the green light does not come on when I twist the battery off and twist it back on.
She panics, even though I know she will sleep in the car.
For a split second, I am aware no one would think of what I know I must do, and no one would judge me for not doing it.
Except I know what is the right thing, and what I must do, and I do it quickly.
My quick response isn’t out of obedience or sweetness to my daughter so much as not wanting that gap of awareness to grow, the one between what I know I should do and what I think I can get away with.
I take my own processor off my own ear, twist off my battery, give it to her, and put her dead battery on mine.
She smiles happily, and scampers off, the same way hearing kids do when they steal food off mom’s plate or drink all her water out of her glass. This one has stolen my battery juice, and it just is. Somehow, it’s what makes me a mom, but only almost because I still resent it a little, and that steals any self-sacrificing points I would have gotten otherwise.
That’s what we talked about tonight, with other parents our age, the only other parents we know who are both our age and have kids our age, the soul friends from so long ago. We thought we would be nurturing parents, and more kind, and ever so gentle. We thought we were patient people, even nice people, and we thought we would make really good parents. We worked hard to find and support and love our spouses, and worked really hard to have children. Now here we are, and we are terrible parents.
Not really, but maybe.
Nothing is so hard as parenting, and so many so little with so much baggage is also hard.
“In my opinion, the teaching, rearing, and training of children requires more intelligence, intuitive understanding, humility, strength, wisdom, spirituality, perseverance, and hard work than any other challenge we might have in life.”
But mostly it’s hard because we are new at it, and weak, and mortal.
So very mortal.
The good thing about being mortal, though, is that there is still time to keep trying.
The other day I told a friend that the misbehaving of my children, and having so many of them screaming at me, made them smell a lot like spoiled quail scattered across the wilderness (Numbers 11).
We prayed so, so hard for them, pleading and even begging, and now they are here and we are drowning.
We are drowning in sticky fingers and slimy kisses and muddy hugs. We are drowning in giggles that shriek and laughter that squeals. We are drowning in mismatched socks, buckets of oatmeal, and a dishwasher filled with toy kitchen dishes. We are drowning in boys who want gel in the hair, girls who need grease in their hair, and a baby who spreads banana in her hair.
It is our season of parenting, the one where all our own shadows are brought out for us to confront and from which we must repent. It is our season of increasing our capacity beyond what we knew we could endure, and our season of exponentially creating worlds of safety and love that invite others to progress without compelling them. It is our season of recognizing what our bad behavior must sting like for Heavenly Father, while also glimpsing into the depths of His love for us as a father. It is our season of gaining a testimony of families, of needing each other as husband and wife, of marriage and parenthood being a necessary part of the plan of happiness.
“How long has it been since you took your children, whatever their size, in your arms and told them that you love them and are glad that they can be yours forever?”
And really, even though I pretend to be so tough, I wouldn’t give her my “ears” if I didn’t love her so much, and if she didn’t blink those big brown eyes at me, and if I weren’t already softened toward her.
Just don’t tell anybody that.
Definitely don’t tell my kids.
Besides, if I sacrifice my batteries for my daughter, then I don’t have to listen to them on the way home, right?
Tonight our whole family went to visit Chris and Corrie Beeman, and their friend in town, Corina, all of whom lived in New York when Nathan did. They have been friends for ages, and it was so special and a rare treat for all of us to be together with our families… Not all the children stayed still long enough for the picture, but we got some of them!