This past week I centered my scripture study on the war chapters in Alma and dissected out principals that helped me overcome a weakness I’ve been dealing with. I have a few big projects I have been working on in my free-time that the Lord has led me to work on. While they have been growing and teaching experiences as I devote as much time as I can muster to them, I have felt the adversary’s distractions become all-too enticing.
At the beginning of the year I set some goals (some of which were these projects) and some other spiritual, mental, emotional and physical goals. One of these was to get out of debt completely (with the exception of my mortgage) before my baby came in July. My debt has been hanging over my head and I have felt it taking a toll on me spiritually. I knew that being in debt and spending money on things before I had the money was separating me spiritually from the Lord and holding me back from promised spiritual gifts He was ready to bestow on me.
I don’t consider myself a huge shopper or spender, but I will tell you I struggle with setting boundaries when it comes to finances – and am quick to get something if I feel it is something I need. As baby time has grown closer and closer, I have felt myself getting weighed down because the debt was slowly getting paid off but not at the rate I needed it to in order to be done in time and reach my goal.
About a month ago I started feeling the need to shop. I was spending hours here and there browsing etsy, pinterest, instagram, and other stores online – making lists and notes of the things I wanted. All the while in the back of my mind, I could see the goal I had set for myself slipping away and I kept justifying that if I spent money now, I could just pay off my debt at the end of the year instead of in July and it would be fine.
Well, I didn’t spend any money on anything- but continued browsing, wasting my free time, and rationalizing my thoughts on how I could spend money without feeling guilty. I knew I was being tempted by Telestial and worldly things so that I would be distracted and give up on a spiritual principle I had set for myself, and yet I was entertaining the thoughts by continuing to browse.
“Pay your debts, … do not run into debt any more. … Be prompt in everything, and especially to pay your debts.” – Brigham Young
I prayed for a few days for help and strength to overcome my want for more, and to be happy for what I had. I also asked the Lord to help make up for my lack of self-discipline in finances and to give me discipline I was lacking. During this time of weakness, I came across this scripture:
I decided to make it my screen saver on my phone and ponderize it until I had made up my mind to stick to my goal. Every time I got on my phone to “browse”, I saw that scripture and decided to spend my time more wisely. After a few days, I got on my knees and thanked God for helping me to finally come to the point where I had made up my mind to continue paying off my debt – no matter how impossible it seemed at the time. I told him my goal to pay it off in the last few weeks I had before I quit my job and had a baby and asked Him to give me opportunities to make this possible. I also committed to Him that I would not spend any money on anything I did not absolutely need until all my debts were paid off.
Needless to say, in the next week that followed, the Lord poured out multiple opportunities for me to earn extra money here and there. Within TWO WEEKS (with a LOT of late nights, work, and sacrifice), my debt that I had calculated to pay off in 6 months, was gone. Blessings poured out daily and I was very aware of the Lord’s hand in every thing that was happening because of my desire to follow what I knew he wanted me to do.
This may seem like a silly example, but I felt prompted to share this as I have been trying to overcome all my weaknesses and Telestial desires, no matter how simple they may seem so that I can grow closer to the Lord, purify my heart, and open myself up for bigger and better spiritual opportunities.
As I reflected over the course of what had happened, I saw how Satan had tried very hard to distract me by enticing me to want more Telestial things that “cannot satisfy and have no worth”. Not only that, but he was trying to tempt me to go into debt further instead of following the counsel of the prophets. He also knew that all the time he could occupy my mind and time with worldly wants, he was distracting me from growing spiritually and from using my time as the Lord had directed me. Needless to say, I had to go through a repenting heart and mind and re-align my will with what the Lord wanted me to do, and it was not easy.
While studying the war chapters this week, I decided to pull out principals that I could learn and apply in the future when faced with temptation from the adversary. I wanted to share these because I know that Satan is very crafty with how he presents temptations to us. Not only that, but he knows our weaknesses and is quick to get us any way he can – especially when he can disguise his temptations to not seem that bad or use them as a distraction, preventing us to become all that we are capable of.
Consider these scriptures:
For behold, it came to pass that the Zoramites became Lamanites; therefore, in the commencement of the eighteenth year the people of the Nephites saw that the Lamanites were coming upon them; therefore they made preparations for war; yea, they gathered together their armies in the land of Jershon. -Alma 43:4
And now it came to pass that Moroni did not stop making preparations for war, or to defend his people against the Lamanites; for he caused that his armies should commence in the commencement of the twentieth year of the reign of the judges, that they should commence in digging up heaps of earth round about all the cities, throughout all the land which was possessed by the Nephites. – Alma 50:1
Moroni did not stop making preparations against the enemy, even in times of peace. It was not a question if they were going to be attacked, but rather a question of when and where. Satan WILL attack us, it is more a question of when and it is up to us to become strong and prepare ourselves for when the time comes.
Principle 1: If we prepare when we are not in battle, we will be ready to defend when the temptations come.
But it came to pass, as soon as they had departed into the wilderness Moroni sent spies into the wilderness to watch their camp; and Moroni, also, knowing of the prophecies of Alma, sent certain men unto him, desiring him that he should inquire of the Lord whither the armies of the Nephites should go to defend themselves against the Lamanites. And it came to pass that the word of the Lord came unto Alma, and Alma informed the messengers of Moroni, that the armies of the Lamanites were marching round about in the wilderness, that they might come over into the land of Manti, that they might commence an attack upon the weaker part of the people. And those messengers went and delivered the message unto Moroni. – Alma 43: 23-24
Two important principles can be pulled from these scriptures. The first one is that Moroni sent men to Alma the prophet to inquire of the Lord where they should go to defend themselves. He didn’t ask that they be protected, he asked how they should defend themselves. Similarly, we should not pray to God and ask solely for his protection or deliverance, but for his guidance in ways we can prepare ourselves against Satan’s attacks. It also is interesting that Alma finds out the Lamanites were planning on attacking their weakest city. Satan always gets us where we are weak – and unfortunately, he knows us all to well to know exactly where that is.
Principle 2: If we listen to the prophets, we can know in what areas to defend ourselves.
Principle 3: We can ask the Lord where and how we can defend ourselves.
And it came to pass that Teancum made preparations to make an attack upon the city of Mulek, and march forth with his army against the Lamanites; but he saw that it was impossible that he could overpower them while they were in their fortifications; therefore he abandoned his designs and returned again to the city Bountiful, to wait for the coming of Moroni, that he might receive strength to his army. -Alma 52:17
Teancum was a wise and powerful military leader. In this scripture we find an instance where he was following orders and planning to go to war, but when he realized he was not strong enough, he waited for reinforcements. Similarly, we should be aware of our weaknessess and not put ourselves in situations where Satan will win if we are not strong enough.
Principle 4: It’s important to know your weaknesses and avoid putting yourself in vulnerable situations.
Along with these principles, I found a few quotes that I wanted to include. Each of these reiterate the reality of Satan’s attacks and the importance of preparing for them ahead of time.
“Why did Mormon use so much valuable space on the plates to record military plans and battle strategy? Mormon’s purpose was not merely to record the events of his day but to sift through hundreds of years of history, preserving only those things that would be of great worth to the people of the latter day. He, like other prophets, had seen our day and knew by revelation what our problems would be.” – Kathleen S. McConkie
“There is a war that has gone on since before the world was created and which is likely to continue for a long time to come. That war is the war between truth and error, between agency and compulsion, between the followers of Christ and those who have denied Him. His enemies have used every stratagem in that conflict. It is an ongoing battle. The war goes on, it is waged in our own lives, day in and day out, in our homes, in our work, in our school associations; it is waged over questions of love and respect, of loyalty and fidelity, of obedience and integrity. We are all involved in it.” – Gordon B. Hinckley
“It is better to prepare and prevent, then it is to repair and repent.” – Ezra Taft Benson
“Satan will usually focus his attack on our weakest parts, hoping for a major attack on our souls after our defenses crumble. The Lord has not left us defenseless against Satan’s powerful forces. Nevertheless, we must search out and obey the counsel he has given us. As Moroni wrote to Pahoran, “Do ye suppose that the Lord will still deliver us, while we sit upon our thrones and do not make use of the means which the Lord has provided for us?” – Kathleen S. McConkie
No matter where your weaknesses may lie, I invite you to prayerfully go to the Lord and ask for His help in showing you where and how to prepare yourself. The leaders in the Book of Mormon were successful when they studied their enemy and knew when and how to attack. If we also study Satan’s patterns and are fully armed when his temptations come into our lives, God will give us strength to overcome them. To close I invite you to ask yourself these 4 questions and include them in your scripture study throughout the next week. Just like I saw God’s hand helping me overcome my weaknesses, I know that you too will receive help, strength, inspiration and support from Him and others on the other side of the veil who want you to win and succeed.
My Spiritual War Strategy
What areas are you weakest that Satan is most likely to attack you in?
What can you do to fortify yourself against the adversary’s attacks?
What can you do to better remember what you’re fighting for?
List 3 things you will work on to strengthen yourself against temptation.