13 O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.
(2 Nephi 1:13)
After prophesying about the fate of his descendants in the promised land, Lehi pleads with his sons to “awake from a deep sleep” and to “shake of the awful chains” which bind them. His sons may not have been aware that they were asleep, let alone in a deep sleep, and they may not have been able to detect the chains with which they were bound. But this new land of promise would only be a “land of liberty” for them (2 Nephi 1:7) if they would repent and escape from the limitations caused by their own bad habits.
Marvin J. Ashton taught that Lehi’s counsel applies to us:
Who among us hasn’t felt the chains of bad habits? These habits may have impeded our progress, may have made us forget who we are, may have destroyed our self-image, may have put our family life in jeopardy, and may have hindered our ability to serve our fellowmen and our God….
Shaking off restrictive chains requires action. They cannot be wished away. A declaration will never break chains. It requires commitment, self-discipline, and work (“Shake Off the Chains with Which Ye Are Bound,” General Conference, October 1986).
Elder Ashton listed several types of “chains” which can restrict our freedom:
- Arrogance and unrighteous dominion
- Drug abuse
- Criticism and fault-finding
Today, as I participate in General Conference, I will consider which habits I need to overcome in order to move forward with more confidence and serve more effectively. As I recognize the chains that bind me, I will commit to wake up and to shake off those awful chains with which I am bound.