Of all the characters in the Book of Mormon, Mormon the Prophet is my absolute favorite. He had to endure seeing unbelievable wickedness among his own people, and yet his testimony of Christ and his faith in God were unwavering. Not only that, he accomplished a lot for Heavenly Father's kingdom during his time on earth. I decided to make a list of tasks/roles that he had to fill:
1) He got to take all the records of the prophets and the kings and compile them into one book. Think about it–this would be like taking every talk from every General Conference, Ensign, New Era, and Friend ever published, every Church book ever written, as well as an American History textbook, and then condense it all into one book.
My AP U.S. History textbook in high school felt like a brick to carry around, and the U.S. is only a little over 200 years old. Mormon, on the other hand, had over 800 years of history. That task must have been immense. Whose sermons would you include? Which events in your country's history would be the most important? And yet, at the same time, I think he enjoyed doing that work. He probably found the records of his ancestors fascinating; I know I would have.
2) He was a general in the Nephite armies at an extremely young age. He was knowledgeable in the military strategies of his ancestors, and used this knowledge with his faith in order to defeat the Lamanites. Granted, he later resigned from this position, but nevertheless was a well trained fighter and military leader.
3) He, like the prophets before him, was a writer. Granted, he was charged with writing scripture, which is a little different than your everyday writing, but he still wrote the feelings of his heart and his experiences as directed by the Holy Spirit.
4) He was a father, and a pretty good one at that, seeing as his son Moroni was faithful enough to become the next prophet after him.
5) He was a priesthood holder, one worthy of immense trust from Heavenly Father. I don't think he could have done the things he did without the Holy Spirit to guide him through all of it.
If you know me, then you'll understand why I want to meet Mormon when I get to Heaven. :) Yesterday I was reading through 3 Nephi chapter 5, where Mormon briefly interrupts his narration of Nephite history in order to share a bit of his testimony. In verses 12 through 14, he states,
"And behold, I am called Mormon, being called after the land of Mormon, the land in which Alma did establish the church among the people, yea, the first church which was established among them after their transgression.
"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.
"And it hath become expedient that I, according to the will of God, that the prayers of those who have gone hence, who were the holy ones, should be fulfilled according to their faith."
And in verse 20 he says,
"I am Mormon, and a pure descendant of Lehi. I have reason to bless my God and my Savior Jesus Christ, that he brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem... and that he hath given me and my people so much knowledge unto the salvation of our souls."
I feel a special connection with Mormon. I, too, have reason to praise and rejoice in my God. He is able to come to me and bring me peace, He gave me my family and my friends... He forgives me and loves me when I repent. When I am near Him I feel pure, and special, and humble. I love praying to Him, because I get to talk to Him, and He gets to answer me and help me. I feel a kinship with Mormon, because I can feel his faith in the book, and it uplifts me.
I'm making an edited version of these verses, making them just a little more personally applicable:
"Behold, I am called Garrett Frane Wilkes, my first name being given by my father Kellen Wilkes, and my middle name coming from my grandfather, Doran Frane Wilkes, both of them being righteous, just, and uplifting men.
"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to serve a mission, to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life.
"And it has become expedient that I prepare myself for this mission, according to the will of God, so that I can fulfill the prayers of those on the earth who are searching for the truth, so that all of God's words can be fulfilled."
Despite my weaknesses, despite the influences that the world is trying to make to convince me to stray, even just a little bit, from my standards and covenants, I know Jesus Christ is the savior prophesied for thousands of years in ancient times. I know that Heavenly Father loves me and has given me commandments, and He will not give a commandment save He provides a way for me to keep it. He will provide a way for me to prepare for an honorable mission. And He has also laid out a plan for me to repent when I forget and fall short. See, everything about Heavenly Father is right, and just, and good. Mormon knew this. I hope someday I can, like Mormon, have a record of my earthly life and ministry that is able to bring the spirit to all who read it.
I'm about to finish my mission papers! Soon they will be in the hands of my Bishop, then Stake President, and soon enough into Salt Lake, where the Bretheren will receive by revelation where I am to serve on this good earth.
I am a Son of God; I have been, and always will be, a follower of Christ. I may not have always been the best example of a follower of Christ, but that is where repentance, forgiveness, and faith come in.
This is not about me–it never was about me. I hope to remember that in the trials to come as Satan set up his opposition, and I continue on as a Son of God, as a disciple of Christ, preparing the earth for Jesus' second coming.