Sunday, September 21, 2008

A story about escape from slavery

Today I was reading in the Book of Mormon about Alma’s people and their escape from slavery and I ran across this verse:
Yea, and in the valley of Alma they poured out their thanks to God because he had been merciful unto them, and eased their burdens, and had delivered them out of bondage; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it were the Lord their God. (Mosiah 24:21)
I thought about that phrase “none could deliver them except it were the Lord their God” and I thought I would go back and study the situation to see if I understood the full magnitude of their deliverance.

While in slavery, they had burdens on their backs and task masters and it was so bad that they began to “cry mightily to God” (see Mosiah 24:10).

I find it interesting that the Lord tells them He will deliver them, but He also adds that He will do something very special for them:
And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions. (Mosiah 24:14)
They were strengthened by the Lord that they could carry their burdens easily to the point that it seemed no burden at all. This was done not just to benefit them, but to benefit many other people too; the Lord expected them to testify forever after that the Lord does help people with their troubles. And it says that they put their faith in the promise of deliverance and had patience. “…and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:15).

Because of their faith and patience, (and we don’t know how much time passed) the Lord told them “on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage” (Mosiah 24:16)

When the word came that they would be delivered the next day, after a hard day’s work in slavery, they didn’t hesitate; they spent the entire night gathering their flocks and grain and stuff together, and then in the morning, when they saw their Lamanite task masters were sleeping unusually long, they booked it out of there and traveled the whole of the next day! Extraordinary! 12 hours of hard forced labor, then 12 hours of herding and packing and carrying heavy loads of grain back and forth to pack animals, and then 12 hours of quick traveling and herding animals and carrying babies and running to get away as fast as they can and keeping small children from getting left behind and keeping everyone together … 36 hours of hard work! No sleep! Now, I’ve spent a day hauling boxes and buckets of food storage before. I’ve pulled all-nighters before. I’ve done a few miles of “pioneer trekking” before, but I’ve never done a 36 hour period of all of it combined and no sleep!

And then, notice that it says that after twelve days of travel they arrived in the land of Zarahemla. Just for comparison’s sake, the people of Limhi journeyed for “many days” (Mosiah 22:13) So it appears that Alma and his people were strengthened so that they could travel farther and faster.

That first day’s journey for Alma and his people may have been the equivalent of a multiple days’ journey for other people, which may be why the Lamanites stopped searching for them in that particular valley that Alma and company stopped in after one day.

So this is what the Lord did for them:
  • The Lord promised to deliver them from bondage.
  • The Lord turned the burdens they carried while in bondage into strength training necessary for their escape.
  • The Lord informed them ahead of time of the day they would be delivered, so that they could prepare for it.
  • The Lord strengthened them to gather their stuff together to get ready for departure.
  • The Lord made the Lamanites oversleep substantially to give them time to escape.
  • The Lord strengthened them to keep up the frenetic pace to get them beyond reach.
  • The Lord also guided them back to Zarahemla, as none of them knew where it was.
Learning this has been wonderfully encouraging. My semester has started to really sink down on my shoulders recently and I’ve been finding that I need to budget my time so carefully. I have a lot of large projects that I have to prepare for and I am tired of the stress of procrastination, so this semester I have been trying to break them up into little pieces that are small enough and do-able enough that I can fit them in with my usual weekly class work. I’ve been working on homework until about 11:30 or midnight most nights, even Saturday and trying to fit in scouting and a temple visit every week and this weekend I just didn’t get everything done that I had on my list. Reading about Alma and his people has encouraged me to submit with patience and cheerfulness and not complain about what I have to do. It’s showed me that the Lord has the power to strengthen me to do all that is required of me and that the Lord will be with me, even in crunch times.

I said before that I didn’t get my homework done on Saturday that I had on my list, and I was a little worried about that. I felt that I was starting to fall behind and I worried that I was failing to do what I needed to do.

Then, last night I had a dream. I dreamt I was at a school campus and I was being chased by three threatening guys. I didn’t know what would happen if they caught me, but I was certain I wouldn’t like it. I did a lot of climbing and hiding and dodging to try to get away from them. I was in a dormitory with lots of bunk beds everywhere, five or six high. To get away from my pursuers, I would climb up the sides of these bunk beds, and the amazing thing was that I could climb up only using the strength in my arms. My body was so light that my legs didn’t have to do anything to help and I could even hold myself out horizontally. (I found this particularly fascinating, because in real life I don’t have much arm strength.) Sometimes I could fly or float short distances to escape and other times I could turn invisible. I was really having a lot of fun in my dream doing this and I remember thinking, “I could have even more fun if I didn’t have to keep away from these people chasing me!”

I had so much fun that I actually was reluctant to wake up.. but when I did I felt that this dream was from Heavenly Father and that He was trying to show me that I was stronger than I thought, that how I was handling my homework demonstrated strength, and that it could be very fun, if I had the right attitude. In the Lord’s eyes my burden was light and I was doing just fine.
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
(Image credit - RULA,