1 O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!
I love passages like Alma 29 and 2 Nephi 4, where prophets open their hearts and write about their internal struggles. In this chapter, Alma reviews several doctrines that we have learned previously, but in the context of his own struggle to balance conflicting righteous desires.
He wants to share the gospel. He wants to eradicate sorrow from the earth. But he knows that his efforts to do missionary work are necessarily constrained by several eternal principles:
1. God has given us specific callings and contexts within which to work. None of us, not even a great prophet like Alma, can do it all. We are all mortal and have finite capabilities, and we need to be careful not to become distracted from our circle of influence as we survey our circle of concern.
2. God is at the helm. We do not have to try to do His work for Him. We have the privilege to invite, to challenge, to teach, and to serve those around us. As we do this, and as others are receptive to the message, He will inspire them, enlighten their minds, and change their hearts. We cannot do His job for him.
3. Everyone has agency. We cannot force anyone to accept the message, and there is no amount of charisma that will convert a man or woman against their will. God honors our agency, and we must also honor the agency of those we teach and serve.
These principles are easy to understand but hard to embrace, especially when we have a strong testimony of the gospel and a deep love for others. Alma’s struggle is our struggle. We can only learn what Alma learned by experience. As we serve in God’s kingdom, we must grapple with the tension between our desire to help others and our recognition of the limitations imposed by these true principles.