He Relentlessly Pursues Us

by Autumn Dickson

In chapters 24 and 25 of Alma, we read about the details of a war between the Lamanites, Nephites, and the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. Let’s cover the timeline of this story so we can pull out details of how the Lord works with His people.

In chapter 24 of Alma, we see the Lamanites originally coming upon the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. These converts of Anti-Nephi-Lehi had buried their weapons and as they were being slain, they raised their hands and praised the Lord. Over a thousand of these converts were slain before the Lamanites pulled back and couldn’t do it anymore. All of them stopped killing the converts, but there were still two different reactions among these aggressors.

More than a thousand of the Lamanites were so affected that they joined the church that day. First of all, that experience in and of itself is mind boggling, both on the part of the killed and those doing the killing. Let’s say you’re in the group that was attacked; you’re watching a thousand of your family members and friends being killed. The second the killing stops, you jump in to help comfort, teach, convert, and welcome those who had been killing. Wild. I also think it’s wild that so many of those who were doing the killing were able to jump so quickly into redemption. It’s hard to forgive yourself, but these guys did it and it’s remarkable.

But there was also a second group of Lamanites. These guys couldn’t stomach the idea of killing the defenseless people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi any longer, but their hearts were still hard. In verse 1 of chapter 25, we learn that they decided to direct their anger towards the Nephites instead. I want you to try and comprehend the switch. These Lamanite hearts are soft enough that they can’t handle killing someone stretched out on the ground before them, but their hearts are still hard enough that they can’t let go of their anger. I would imagine this is partially because they can’t bring themselves to accept the reality of what just happened. The Lamanites were raised as a wild and bloodthirsty people, but sin always affects the sinner. These experiences stayed with the Lamanites and facing the reality of what they had done to the converts was probably harder than redirecting their anger towards a different group of people who would fight back.

So that’s what they did. They turned their anger to the Nephites and were like, “Yeah. This was definitely all the fault of the Nephites. Let’s get vengeance on them instead.” Their hearts were still too hard to break unto the Lord; their hearts were hard enough that they still felt that killing was the answer.

As the Lamanites turned to the Nephites, they killed all the wicked people in Ammonihah before being driven back again and again. They could not overpower the Nephites, and so we find this experience next.

Alma 25:6 For many of them, after having suffered much loss and so many afflictions, began to be stirred up in remembrance of the words which Aaron and his brethren had preached to them in their land; therefore they began to disbelieve the traditions of their fathers, and to believe in the Lord, and that he gave great power unto the Nephites; and thus there were many of them converted in the wilderness.

Many of the leftover Lamanites converted as well.

There are only a bajillion principles in this timeline ranging from forgiveness and charity to the merits of defending yourself vs. pacifism according to the will of the Lord. I can’t cover them all so the one I want to cover today is summed up nicely in the words of Elder Patrick Kearon in his conference address from this last April.

God is in relentless pursuit of you.

How many chances qualify as sufficient?

There were three chances (that we know of) that this last group of Lamanites received to accept the gospel.

The first chance came in the land of Nephi. Ammon, Aaron, and their brethren came to the Lamanite lands to preach the gospel. Many converted, and it would have likely been impossible to miss the surge of religious fervor in the area. These Lamanites had been given a chance to hear the gospel and accept it. We know that they heard some of the message because in the verse we read (Alma 25:6), it talks about how they remembered the words of Aaron. Though many joined the church, there were still plenty who rejected it.

The second chance came after they literally went to war with the converts who had come to be known as Anti-Nephi-Lehies. Not only did they reject the gospel, but many Lamanites actively sought against it. Think about the state of their hearts. They killed one thousand and five converts who were laid out on the ground in front of them. The people they killed were praising God as they were slaughtered. Think about what you understand of war and what it requires to actually kill someone. Then think about how much more it would require of a man to stab a defenseless person with a sword because you were mad that they had joined a church. So much of war these days is impersonal, bombs dropped where you can’t see the people you’re affecting. Even shooting a gun is less personal than having to use a sword.

I don’t bring up these facts to be gruesome. I bring them up because I want to highlight the state of the hearts of these Lamanites; understanding how far “gone” they were can help us understand just how much the Lord pursues us. I mean, we get discouraged when our friends don’t accept a copy of The Book of Mormon or an invitation to church. These Lamanites were killing, and yet, the Lord didn’t abandon or give up on them. The Lord relentlessly pursued their souls despite everything they had done, despite the state of their hearts and their willingness to kill.

There came a point where even the most hardened Lamanites couldn’t kill any more defenseless people. It was too much. A large number of these Lamanite hearts broke as they acknowledged that the killing they had participated in was wrong, and the Lord was standing there, ready to forgive and heal them from the trauma they had brought on their own heads.

The Lord brought them in and worked with them as soon as they were ready for it. As soon as they were ready to join hands with those who had been their “enemies,” as soon as they were ready to look into the faces of the family members of the people they killed, the Lord was ready to gather them in. I also find it beautiful that the family members of the murdered were standing ready to be the hands of the Lord and welcome them in, to show these broken Lamanites just how far the Lord was willing to go for them.

But the story doesn’t even end there! Though many of the Lamanite hearts broke unto the Lord, there were still many who refused to acknowledge that maybe they were on the wrong side here. There were many who refused to consider that maybe they were only hurting themselves by continuing to kick against the pricks.

Their hearts were still hard! They could no longer stomach the idea of killing defenseless, happy people, but they refused to let go of their anger and hard hearts. Instead, they just decided to go and kill the Nephites because apparently that made loads of sense to them. They couldn’t kill the converts anymore, so they decided that all this apparently revolting (in their eyes) religious conversion was definitely the fault of the Nephites so they decided to go and kill some more.

The combination of Aaron’s warnings and being beaten down by Nephites finally did it for them. Their hearts finally softened and broke, and they finally considered that maybe they had been looking at the entire situation wrong. And there was the Lord, ready to accept them into the folds through the medium of baptism.

If you were in the Lord’s shoes (exactly as you are, not perfect like Him but as you are now), when would you have given up on these Lamanites? When would you have said, “Okay. Enough is enough. I’m done trying to save you; you refuse to be saved.”

In the midst of all this overwhelming tragedy, this one principle screams through. The Lord’s love for us runs deeper than we can truly fathom, and He absolutely, unendingly, relentlessly pursues us. We may give up, but He does not.

Even when it seems like the end, His actions are still demonstrative of His relentless pursuit. As the Lamanites suited up for war against the converts, many of us would have believed, “They’re placing the last nail in their own coffins.” As the killing began, our hearts would have broken for those who were being killed and maybe even for the Lamanites who were hurting themselves. We would have thought, “Surely, they can’t come back from this.” We would have been floored with surprise as many of them threw down their own weapons in their first act of conversion, and hopefully would have cried surprised tears of joy as they entered the waters of baptism.

As we watched the rest of the Lamanites angrily march off to go and kill Nephites instead, we would have thought, “Okay if that experience didn’t change them, they’re never going to change.”

We would have given up, but the Lord never does. Where we saw acts of rebellion that surely announced the bull-headed desire to be damned, the Lord saw opportunities for the Lamanites to finally figure it out. When Satan started to rejoice over the powerful hold he had over the Lamanites, the Lord was just warming up and utilized all of Satan’s chains to wake them up.

We are not the Lord, but let’s not forget the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies, more than any other group, held a balm for these broken-hearted Lamanites that sealed their budding conversion. These converts, who had been changed themselves, believed that the Lamanites could change and welcomed them into their homes and families. The Lord loved and relentlessly pursued, and He utilized the Anti-Nephi-Lehies as one of the extensions of that love. He can likewise utilize us.

I testify of a Lord who never gives up, and I testify that if we choose to offer the same grace, compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance towards our enemies, we will find greater peace than we ever thought possible.



Autumn Dickson was born and raised in a small town in Texas. She served a mission in the Indianapolis Indiana mission. She studied elementary education but has found a particular passion in teaching the gospel. Her desire for her content is to inspire people to feel confident, peaceful, and joyful about their relationship with Jesus Christ and to allow that relationship to touch every aspect of their lives.

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