For the next several chapters, Alma takes some time to share advice, counsel, and teaching with each of his three sons — Helaman (chapters 36-37), Shiblon (chapter 38) and Corianton (chapters 39-42).
In Alma 36, Alma remembers what type of man he was before he gave his life to the Lord. He recalls that he had rebelled against God, not keeping His commandments, and that he “went about with the sons of Mosiah, seeking to destroy the church of God” (verse 6). He would have continued along this destructive path, but his eyes were finally opened by the appearance of an angel who spoke to him with a voice of thunder. Alma describes what happened after the angel spoke to him:
“I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins. Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell.” (Alma 36:12-13)
All this torment was then replaced with the joy of salvation through Christ. The memory of his sins didn’t haunt him any longer. In fact, he says, “My soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!” (verse 20).
If the memory of his sin was so painful, then why does Alma recall it at this time for his son? Perhaps the memories some of us have of our own sins are painful as well. Is there any value in recalling these memories, or are they better left buried?
On the one hand, it’s good to know that the person who we were before we met the Lord no longer exists and that we don’t have to feel guilty about the things that person did. Living in the past is not necessary and can, in fact, rob us of our joy if we continue to dwell on that.
On the other hand, remembering where we came from and comparing that to where we are today has some benefits as well:
- It gives us an appreciation for what the Lord has done for us — It’s our testimony!
- It allows us to feel good about ourselves (but not too good) — When we’re feeling bad about ourselves, it’s good to see how much we’ve grown spiritually from then until now. On the other hand, lest we get too prideful, it’s good to recognize that no matter how good we may think we are today, we weren’t always this way. If we hadn’t met the Lord, we would be totally different.
- It allows us to interact more comfortably with those who are still in a sinful condition — We can appreciate that people in this position are not bad people and are not beneath us but rather are just in the same condition we were in before we met the Lord. Also, since many of these people think there is no way they can ever be like us, we can let them know that the Lord can change their lives just as He did for us.
So, while it’s not recommended that you dwell in the past, there is some benefit to occasionally looking back to appreciate the journey you’re on and how far you’ve come. Of course, don’t forget to thank God for bringing you from where you were then to where you are now.
Chorus of “Remind Me, Dear Lord”
Roll back the curtain of memory now and then
Show me where you brought me from
And where I could have been
Remember I’m human, and humans forget
So remind me, remind me dear Lord
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.
Than You Brother Jerry! One of my very favorite hymns–“Remind Me Dear Lord.”
Thank you, Brother Jerry.it is good to gain insights into the individual chapters as I read through the Book of Mormon. It widens my perspective on God’s Word.