As I was reading the book of Enos today a few things stood out. I've read this book many times and have always loved the account of Enos gaining a testimony and being forgiven, and sometimes I've tended to skim over it because I've heard it so many times. I'm grateful for the times when I'm able to quietly sit and take the time to really think about all the stuff that might have been involved when this account happened.
The first thing I noticed is that Enos went into the forest to hunt beasts. He wasn't sitting in the middle of a crowd or lounging around napping. He was busy doing what he needed to be doing. BUT, he was out in the forest, presumably where it was quiet and solitary. A great place to do some serious thinking. I wonder if our children have enough opportunities to be in a quiet place where they have the chance to think about what we try to teach them. Or are they so distracted by the noise of television, radio, mp3 players, sports, friends, and everything else that they never really take the time to stop and just think about things? Especially things of an eternal nature. I worry sometimes that my daughter is too focused on clothes and friends and books and drawing, and I struggle to find ways to help her want to grow spiritually. I'm consoled by the fact that I know it's normal for a teenager to be into all of the above-mentioned, but even more by the realization that as long as I am trying (like Enos' father) to "speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints" that she is probably picking up a fair amount of what really matters also. (Maybe the worry doesn't stop at a child's level either... how many of us as adults fail to make quiet time in our lives on a regular basis to ponder things??)
The second thing that hit me as I was reading was that Enos didn't stop once he gained his own testimony. He didn't think "cool, I know God is real and the gospel is true... I've been forgiven, and I'm good to go." Instead, he immediately realized that he wanted that same experience for all of his family and friends. He wanted to share the wealth.
He didn't limit that feeling of good will to his friends and family either. He went on and "prayed and labored with all diligence" for his enemies. For the very people who hated his whole way of life. He didn't take the time to judge them or to think of them as un-redeemable. Do we think that same way about our enemies? When was the last time that we prayed for the Taliban? That's an extreme example, and it'll probably hit a raw nerve with some people, but is it really right for us to hate them and want them destroyed ? Or is it right for us to pray that they can be brought to a knowledge of the truth? I think Enos gave us a perfect example. I doubt he gave up trying to defend his family and friends, but he wasn't going to give up on trying to share the truth either.
The third thing I noticed didn't concern Enos directly. It was an interesting statement about his people. It mentions that his people tried to restore the Lamanites to true faith in God but that their labors were vain. This isn't surprising, right? What struck me was two verses later when Enos talks about the Nephites having many prophets among them, and yet they were a stiffnecked people. Even worse, he felt that only by using threats of eternal punishment and continually keeping them in the fear of the Lord could they be kept from "going down speedily to destruction." It seems ironic that these same people, who had to be pushed into keeping the commandments, were trying to restore others who they perceived as more lost to the truth! How can you teach something you don't understand well enough to live??! I thought it was funny that they were so concerned about the Lamanites knowing the truth, yet they themselves were unwilling to live it! I think there are a lot of modern parallels to this. We often see the faults of others and want to "set them straight." We know that the gospel can change their lives for the better, and we don't understand WHY they aren't interested! But we also tend to take that same knowledge for granted in our own lives. We don't follow the counsel of our prophet, we pick and choose which commandments to adhere to, we become lazy and slothful about doing even the basics (you know... scripture reading, prayer, attending church, Family Home Evening.) We forget that the gospel can change OUR lives for the better also! I think that one of the most powerful missionary tools we have is to live our religion. Let others see what happens when you're doing what's right, and they'll want it too. It's not easy, and sometimes it's not fun, but it is so worth it.
I don't want to be like the Nephites of Enos' time. I want to be able to share the knowledge of a gospel that I live, not just one that I can recite. I want to show everyone I meet that life can be good!! And I pray that when those PMS moments occur (and they will!) that people will be understanding of my shortcomings and not judge me too harshly when I can't measure up to my Savior's example. That's what His atonement is for. For all of us. We just have to keep trying.