“Go forth and marvel not,” the angels said.
Those words concluded the miraculous events in the prison in the land of Nephi. Two brothers, Nephi and Lehi, were imprisoned there. Enemies came to the prison to take them, probably to their deaths. But fire from heaven came and surrounded Nephi and Lehi, while their enemies were struck dumb and immobile, and a darkness came to swath them. Then a voice from heaven cried repentance three times, shaking the walls. The enemies managed to recover enough movement to look to Nephi and Lehi. They saw a light around them and cried our for repentance. And then they too were surrounded by pillars of fire and heard a voice saying Peace and angels came and ministered to them.
When I read about it I always know I’ve read an extraordinary thing, one of the Great Passages in the Book of Mormon. It makes me shake my head that the angels said, “Marvel not” at the end of it. Why not marvel?
I can only guess that marveling at these heavenly outbreaks makes us tourists to the supernatural when God wants us to be citizens of it. Marveling must psychologically separate us from miraculous events somehow. I remember something the lovely one said when we were reading through First Nephi. We’d got to that scene in the recovery of the brass plates where Laman and Lemuel decide to call the whole enterprise off and beat their obnoxious younger brother Nephi to boot. They grabbed a rod and started doing it. Then an angel came down and stopped the two of them and promised all the brothers that if they went to Jerusalem one more time the Lord would deliver Laban and his brass plates into their hands. Pretty dramatic. After the angel left Laman and Lemuel immediately started doubting. Was it really possible, they said, that God would deliver the mighty Laban into their hands?
When we read this I said what everyone says at this point, that Laman and Lemuel must have been thick in the head. When angels appear sensible persons start thinking there might be something to all this God stuff. They don’t go around saying, gee, I don’t know if God is really a match for Laban. Laban’s mighty.
Of course they believed in God’s power, the lovely one said. They weren’t that stupid. They’d seen the angel. They just didn’t understand God at all, so they didn’t trust him.
I thought it over and decided she was right. God just didn’t make sense to Laman and Lemuel. He completely disordered their natural world. He made their father rave in the streets about the end coming near, drove them all out of Jerusalem, made their younger brother their superior, decreed Jerusalem’s destruction though the people in Jereusalem seemed righteous to them, and, oddest thing of all, made an angel appear to them. They couldn’t fit the angel into the basic fabric of their life–instead they resented it as a supernatural intruder, much as others would have gaped and marvelled at it as a supernatural intruder–and so it changed them very little. If only this visit from an angel could have become part of who they were.
Kaimi Wenger’s mentioned sitting in his office feeling like it was all a unreal. I’ve felt the same way about my spiritual experiences. Just this Sunday we fasted a full 24 hours for the first time in a long time, in obedience to Elder Pratt’s suggestion that it would make us very sensitive to the Spirit. It did. We spent Sunday evening positively wallowing in spiritual insight and the presence God. We could hardly contain ourselves. Now, today, Sunday evening already seems like a foreign country. It hardly happened to me at all.
You all are saints. You’ve had spiritual experiences and blessings. Do you remember them? Do you remember them from the inside? Try. They too are real life.