The seminary curriculum during my sophomore year of high school was the Book of Mormon. During that time, I labeled many of the chapters throughout the Book of Mormon with my own headings, inspired by the lessons given in class. To Alma 29 I gave the title “Alma’s hymn and prayer” because of his righteous desires and the way that some of his wording reminds me of the hymns sung in church. Now, almost four years later, I have begun to associate this chapter, and much of Alma, with my Patriarchal Blessing.
I received my Blessing shortly before I came to BYU, during a time in my life when I was extremely nervous about the upcoming months (this being my first semester of university and the longest I’ve been away from home in one stretch). In several places in my Blessing, it talks about the happiness and joy that will come into my life if I “keep the commandments of my father and the law of my mother.”* My Blessing also mentions in a few places that a great part of my mortal mission is to “declare truth and righteousness.”* At one point, Alma says that his “soul is carried away, even to the separation of it from the body”1 from the joy he feels over the success of his brethren. This verse is akin to the statement in my Blessing that says “you will be lifted and held high as on eagle’s wings”* which comes shortly after telling me that my voice will be heard to declare truth, much as Alma’s brethren declared truth. The joy of sharing the Gospel brings a sense of enlightenment, much as seeing things from higher up brings greater knowledge of what is around us.
In Alma 4, Alma witnesses the great iniquity which has taken hold of the Church. Yet, in verse thirteen, Alma sees some members of the Church who are still looking forward steadfastly to the day when Christ shall come, “thus retaining a remission of their sins; being filled with great joy because of the resurrection of the dead, according to the will and power and deliverance of Jesus Christ from the bands of death.”2 When I read this verse, it reminds me of temple work, which is also talked about in my Patriarchal Blessing. It states that “the glorious work of the holy temple will become a part of your life and shall occupy an abundance of your precious time in service as a savior on mount Zion. These spiritual things will increase your joy…”* Even though the people in Alma’s time did not know of temple work in the same manner as we do today, the same joy that they had in knowing of the resurrection of the dead can be felt in our own lives when we perform ordinances for the dead in the temple.
“I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.”3 Genesis 2:24 gives the commandment to women that they should leave their families and cleave unto their husbands, thus to fulfill the commandment to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth”4 Alma’s commandment was to spread the Gospel; as a woman, mine is to become a wife and mother (either in this life or the next). This is one of my greatest goals in life, and it is also a part of my Blessing. As a mother, I am to “nurture and teach my children in love and righteousness.”* My own mother has been a very big factor in bringing many of her wayward children back to the Gospel and to repentance. As a future mother, I know that it is possible to “be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance.”3 This brings great joy to me because being a mother is such a big goal in my life.
In Alma 27, Ammon falls to the earth from his exceedingly great joy, which exhausted all of his strength. In the next verse, we are told that “this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.”5 This implies that one must obey the laws and commandments of God to receive such an immense outpouring of joy in their lives. True joy can only come from God, who will only give it to us if we live as we have covenanted to do in the waters of baptism and later in the temple. Along with this, God will only give us the blessings given us in our Patriarchal Blessings if we do the best that we can in living his commandments fully in our lives. Finding true joy in doing the work of God requires us to obey him with love. As President Thomas S. Monson, in speaking about God’s laws, stated: “Violate them and we suffer lasting consequences. Obey them and we reap everlasting joy.”6 There is nothing stopping us from receiving true joy but our own disobedience. I pray that we all may find the courage to obey and thereby find the greatest joy of all in our lives.
*From the Patriarchal Blessing given to Sarah Rae Guffey
1 Alma 29:16
2 Alma 4:14
3 Alma 29:9
4 Genesis 1:28
5 Alma 27:18
6 Pathways to Perfection: Discourses of Thomas S. Monson (1973), 126.