Nephi returned home exhausted from his latest mission to the northern cities. As anticipated, the people had rejected his message. Nephi knew what was to follow. The Nephites were, once again, on the path towards destruction.
Desperate for God’s help in redeeming the people he loved, Nephi climbed atop his garden tower to pour out his soul. Soon his private pleadings became a public event. Apparently, Nephi’s garden tower overlooked Zarahemla’s main highway. So those traveling to and from the capitol city saw Nephi praying.
Nephi’s pleadings must have been so heartfelt that his tears transformed into a torrent as he wept bitterly on behalf of his people.
I guess there was a lull in the affairs of the capitol that day as many travelers halted their journeys to watch a man weep. They all knew Nephi was the prophet. Their curiosity was piqued as to why the Prophet was crying.
When Nephi became aware of his unintended audience, being the relentless missionary, he took the time to teach curious crowd. In his sermon he said:
Repent ye, repent ye! Why will ye die? Turn ye, turn ye unto the Lord. Why has he forsaken you?
Previously I posted that the very definition of God’s succoring, made possible through the atonement, has God running towards us when we are captive to sin. On the surface, it appears that Nephi is saying the exact opposite. Because of their sins God has forsaken the Nephites.
In the next verse, however, Nephi states because the people have hardened their hearts they refused to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd. I interpret this to mean that God didn’t forsake them. Rather, true to His promises, He was succoring His people. Calling to them. Pleading for them to repent.
I feel this is a powerful message for our time. We all face times of personal trials. Sometimes our challenges are self-imposed by our poor choices. Sometimes our dark times are thrust upon us by the cruel actions of others.
Regardless of the cause, when we are struggling, we need to have the confidence that God is ever running towards us. That means during our difficult days we need to remind ourselves to take the time to listen. If we can weed out the distractions of life, more specifically Satan’s degrading lies intended to isolate us to keep us from trusting in the enabling power of the atonement, we are sure to hear the peace that surpasses all understanding.
I cannot imagine a God who loves us perfectly, shunning us at the very moment we need Him the most. We need never worry about God forsaking us. Rather, we must keep, ever embedded in our minds, the image of a loving father running towards us while in our distress – whether we want Him or not.