Alma 47:35 - 50:28 It was after the house had cleared this morning.
After the prying from warm covers to the frigid welcome of a cold room. Waking Grace. Reminding Meg there were only a few precious moments of sleep left.
After the shoes were on, and the backpacks retrieved.
After I washed oatmeal out of one bowl, and Frosted Flakes out of the other.
In that moment, when the house was full of quiet stillness I paused to read.
The heading tells me that Moroni arms the Nephites with defensive armor. The verses tell me that "Moroni had prepared his people with breastplates and with arm-shields, yea, and also shields to defend their heads, and also they were dressed with thick clothing––" (Alma 43:19)
"Moroni knew the intention of the Lamanites, that it was their intention to destroy their brethren." (Alma 43:29)
"Therefore he thought it no sin that he should defend them by stratagem." (Alma 43:30)
"And thus having placed his army according to his desire, he was prepared to meet them." (Alma 43:33)
It was in that moment that I thought of my two girls who had left the safety and refuge of home to enter the world.
Yes, it's a world we love, with people we love, and a community we love. But it is also a world that has the potential and even the intention sometimes to destroy.
And I wonder if I have prepared them with armor? If I have prepared them by stratagem? If I have placed them in a situation in which they are prepared to meet whatever they encounter during the day?
I ask myself, "What could I have done more?" It is a question I have been asking a lot lately.
And then I turned to Alma 48...
Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.
Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites.
Erecting small forts, building walls of stone to encircle them about, throwing up banks of earth.
In their weakest fortifications he did place the greater number of men.
Fortifying and strengthening. Yea, all round about the land.
He did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.
His people were taught to defend themselves, and yet to never give an offense. And this was their faith. They knew if they were faithful the Lord would warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger. (Alma 48:14-15)
I think of my two girls who bounded out of here this morning ready for whatever the day would bring.
Ready in the sense of lunches prepared, hair done, clothes matching, homework packed.
But were they ready?
Strengthened. Fortified. Encircled about. Prepared.
Have I labored exceedingly for the safety and welfare of my people?
What could I do more?
This weekend I filled a notebook with thoughts and inspiration.
Counsel to help prepare my family to become stronger, to hear the warnings to flee.
In that quiet morning hour I made a decision...I am going to labor exceedingly to make sure we heed the counsel we have been given.
It is when I turn to chapter 49 that I recognize the promise that will follow this decision...
"And now it came to pass...the armies of the Lamanites were seen approaching towards the land...
And behold, the city had been rebuilt...they had cast up dirt round about to shield them from the arrows and the stones...
And because the Lamanites had destroyed it once...they supposed that it would again become an easy prey for them.
But behold, how great was their disappointment; for behold, the Nephites had dug up a ridge of earth round about them, which was so high that the Lamanites could not cast their stones and their arrows at them that they might take effect...
Now at this time the chief captains of the lamanites were astonished exceedingly, because of the wisdom of the Nephites in preparing their places of security. Behold, to their uttermost astonishment, they were prepared for them, in a manner which never had been known..." (Alma 49: 1-14)
Today my determination is to labor exceedingly to prepare my family with armor, by stratagem, so that they are in a position to meet whatever they encounter during the day.
Stone by stone if need be.
Just like Moroni.