In my scripture study this morning, I came across one of my most favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon. Alma 18. This is where Ammon teaches King Lamoni.
I don’t really have a lot to expound on except to say that I’ve always loved the wonderful message of hope in this chapter. Lamoni was so depraved, so ignorant, and so under-privileged in terms of what he should have known and could have been, and yet it took exactly one encounter with the gospel for him to erase generations of ignorance and depravity.
On that same note, I noticed two things that I had never really noticed before. First, Lamoni’s father had taught him to believe in god according to their limited understanding. I think we often assume dad was terribly wicked. I don’t think so. Just ignorant. He was, at his heart, probably a good man living as best he could with what he had to work with.
Second, I wondered why I don’t get a Lamoni-type experience. How cool would that be to basically get it all in one huge moment and wake up with that pure and perfect knowledge? And the thought comes to me that I don’t need that. I already know what he knew, and I learned it in the ways that best taught me the same. But the real understanding I picked up on today is that Lamoni’s willingness to obey and grow from the experience wasn’t a product of his experience. It was a choice he made after being given that light and knowledge. The basic point is this: growing from any spiritual experience is a result of choosing to act on the opportunity. Had Lamoni had the experience and chosen not to change, the power of the experience would have faded and been lost.
In our own experiences, do we choose to grow and change?
The real power in Alma 18 is not in the experience, but in the choice.