I have been thinking about conversion a lot lately. These three examples really stuck out to me.
In the 8th chapter of 1 Nephi, Lehi, Nephi’s father, tells of a dream that he had: The vision of the tree of life. Lehi has gathered his family and is teaching them of the dream in his tent. He is also prophesying to them of the destruction of Jerusalem and Babylonian captivity; he prophesies of the Messiah – including the events surrounding his baptism; Lehi teaches of the scattering and gathering of Israel. (It kind of sounds like some heavy-duty FHE).
After Lehi teaches and prophesies, Nephi has this response: ” And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, … I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.” – 1 Nephi 10:17.
Because of Lehi’s teachings, Nephi is inspired to go to the Lord for his own testimony. What follows is Nephi’s own vision of the tree of life – and his conversion.
Of course, Nephi was faithful before he received this vision. However, it is during this revelation that he began to understand the condescension of God, Christ’s life and mission, and what it meant for him and the rest of the world.
Nephi’s experience was miraculous, and because of the faith that he exhibited – it was relatively easy. He knew how to get answers from the Lord. Nephi is an example of someone who sought the Lord. He wanted to understand the mysteries of God, and he knew that if he went to the Lord, then he would receive testimony. His example is stellar.
Enos was the son of Jacob. The book of Enos is, for the most part, an account of his conversion. Enos states, “Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often hear my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.” – Enos 1:3. Before Enos had the desire to pray to God, preliminary to his receiving a testimony, he began to ponder his father’s words.
We don’t know the details – where and when Enos was taught, but we do know that Jacob fulfilled his duty as a father – to teach his children the gospel. Because of this the seeds to true conversion were planted deep in the heart of Enos.
Enos went about seeking his testimony in a different way than Nephi did. When Nephi heard the testimony and prophecies of his Father, His heart was pricked by the Holy Ghost, and he went away from his father’s tent seeking his own experience with the Lord.
Enos, he seems a lot more like most of us. He seems like a good guy – that probably listened to his dad preach, and then went on with the rest of the day. Finally, one day, when he has a moment to ponder and meditate, his heart is pricked by the Holy Ghost. Then, he is inspired to pray and have his experience with the Lord.
Alma’s experience is a little bit different than those of Nephi and Enos.
Alma was naughty. He liked to go around with his friends and destroy the church. This came to an abrupt halt one day when he and the sons of Mosiah were visited by an angel. The visitation was not quite positive – as it left Alma comatose for a few days.
Alma explains what happened while he was in this state:
“And now, And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.
And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.” – Alma 36:16-17
Alma, like both Nephi and Enos, was inspired by the words spoken by his father. It is Alma the Elder’s testimony that inspires Alma to pray for forgiveness – having faith that Christ could (and would) save him from his bitter state.
Alma is another extreme example. He began his life in wickedness. Yet he eventually arrived to his conversion in the exact same way Nephi and Enos did – through faith on Jesus’ name and humble prayer. Even though Nephi, Enos, and Alma came to Christ in different ways, what matters is that they came to Christ. And the even better part: Christ doesn’t deny any that come to him.
I love these examples. They inspire me to go to the Lord. They also help me to remember that it is easier to go to the Lord the way Nephi did than the way Alma did. I would rather remember to be humble than be compelled from time to time. Yet, there are times when I’m a little more like Alma the younger than Nephi, and I’m so grateful to know that the Lord loves the repentant sinner no less than the faithful.