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Alma 36 in Poetry

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

I'm short on time today, so I'm posting a poem (or, actually, lyrics to a song), based on Alma 36. The story told here is purely speculative. The underlying principles though, are what makes the story of Alma Sr and Jr one of my favourites in all scripture. Whatever the actual trap that kept Alma Sr cow-towing to wicked King Noah until the rupture over Abinadi, and whatever the real motives of the younger Alma's rebellion against his father and the Church, this story promises total security in following God and keeping covenants. It promises me that, whatever happens, if I will hold fast to my covenants, my Heavenly Father will reach after, bless and strengthen my children in miraculous ways. It will happen in His own time and wisdom, but happen it will, because God keeps His covenants.

The poem seems appropriate because Alma 36 is itself a poem, a Chiasmus composed by a father for his son.

If You Exist

Circa 140 BC

The mother:

O God, if you exist, you’ve got to help us.

My husband’s gone to plead before the throne.

I’ve begged him on my knees

To hold his tongue, to let things be,

But he couldn’t let Abinadi alone.

Yes I know my pleas were wrong,

O God forgive me.

I begged him play along as he has always done,

For they have our little boy,

They’ve said they’d take him as their toy,

And if half their threats are real,

Then the horror’s just begun.

So tell me, what’s the killing of your prophet,

To the tortures they’ll inflict upon my son?

Your prophet’s old and gray,

He chose the price he pays today.

But not so my boy, my innocent, my precious little one.

So if you made my husband speak at my son’s peril,

Then you’ve got to give protection to my son.

They say you made the Red Sea part,

They say you opened Sarah’s womb.

If so, I beg you, save my baby from that monster Amulon!

30 years later

The son:

O God, if you exist, then you’re a demon,

Like the idols that delight in blood of babes.

My father calls you Prince of Peace,

Says you want offerings of beasts,

But I’m the sacrifice my parents made.

I always thought they had no option when they left me,

That they’d pay any price to see me safe and well,

But reunited now, I find,

My father knew the high priest’s mind,

Knew his course would send me

To a living hell.

And he says he was assured that you’d protect me.

You — who let your precious prophet die by fire!

I’d rather bow my knees to trees,

I’d serve the ancient deities,

Before I’d trust a god who’d bid me

Leave my child in such a mire!

But he’ll never know the price of his betrayal;

I’ll play the faithful, long-lost son,

And I’ll be sure he never sees

How I fight the church he leads

And the God that bade him leave me to that monster Amulon.

Five years more

The father:

O God, dost Thou exist where pain can’t reach Thee?

Am I weak and faithless in my grief?

I yielded to Thy word

I thought my prayers were heard,

But now, I’m stunned, just clinging to belief.

I trusted Thee. I left him to Thy keeping

Because I had Thy promise he’d be well,

My guileless little boy,

So tender, full of joy,

And now, because I left him, he’s careening toward Hell.

Wilt Thou stand aside and witness his destruction

When he’d have no cause to fight Thee but for me?

No, I’ve tasted of Thy love;

I know Thy mercy well enough.

Thou art He who gives His Firstborn that the prisoners might go free.

O my Father, did I really just accuse Thee

Of not feeling for the anguish of my son?

Lord, I finally understand.

I am waiting on Thy hand.

Thou wilt save him from becoming like that monster Amulon.

Six months later

The son:

O God, must I exist? Canst Thou erase me?

I, who cursed Thy name in angry pride,

I have become the thing I hate,

Toxic, vile, and venomous,

I’ve infected souls that, trusting in me, died.

Before me is their ruin and their anguish.

I can’t escape it, I am racked with every breath.

And there is no hope for me,

I shrink to think of meeting Thee.

I crave oblivion;

Don’t give me death!

But wait-- My father spoke of one he called Redeemer.

One who gave him hope when hope was gone.

Could it be he trusted well

When he fled King Noah’s hell

That like him, I’d be delivered from the grasp of Amulon?

For his sake, who trusted in thy promise,

Christ Jesus, wilt thou take and heal my heart?

Ah, yes! His goodness gathers me.

Sweetness replaces agony.

I am delivered, and He fills me

As His mercy takes my part.

Now I scarce believe the joy that soars within me,

And I’ll proclaim to all I meet what He has done.

May every soul that toils in sin

Taste of this love, be gathered in.

May Thy mercy reach even to him, Thy lost son Amulon.

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Jul 27, 2020

I recall this well and feel it deeply enough that I never read Alma 36 without having the imagery of overlay the narrative in the scripture.

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