7 Now it came to pass that while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.
8 Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land.
9 And in their weakest fortifications he did place the greater number of men; and thus he did fortify and strengthen the land which was possessed by the Nephites.
In the preceding chapters, Mormon relates the story of how Amalikiah became king of the Lamanites, one deception at a time. Now, he turns our attention to Captain Moroni and the Nephites, who were busy during this time preparing for the return of the Lamanite armies. Moroni had defeated Amalakiah’s armies, but he knew that Amalakiah had gone to the land of the Lamanites, and he anticipated that his people would have to fight again.
I’m interested in Mormon’s choice of words in this passage. He describes the preparations made by the Nephites: erecting forts, surrounding them with banks of earth and walls of stone, and ensuring that their soldiers were well-placed. But Mormon introduces the passage by saying that Moroni was “preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God.” More important than the military preparations were the spiritual preparations they were making, so that they could receive God’s power as they fought to defend themselves.
In last week’s general conference, President Dallin H. Oaks reminded us that the small decisions we make every day are preparing us to face the large challenges which will come less frequently. He quoted Dan Coats, former senator from Indiana: “The only preparation for that one profound decision which can change a life, or even a nation, is those hundreds and thousands of half-conscious, self-defining, seemingly insignificant decisions made in private.” President Oaks then added:
Those “seemingly insignificant” private decisions include how we use our time, what we view on television and the internet, what we read, the art and music with which we surround ourselves at work and at home, what we seek for entertainment, and how we apply our commitment to be honest and truthful. Another seemingly small and simple thing is being civil and cheerful in our personal interactions (“Small and Simple Things,” General Conference, April 2018).
During the same session, Elder Larry Y. Wilson shared a story about a young ensign in the U.S. navy who was able to miraculously save a ship by receiving specific answers to a series of prayers. One of the lessons Elder Wilson learned from this story was that this young naval officer had prepared for that moment:
Could he have prayed with such calm assurance if he had not received guidance from the Spirit on previous occasions? The arrival of a typhoon is no time to dust off the gift of the Holy Ghost and figure out how to use it. This young man was clearly following a pattern he had used many times before, including as a full-time missionary. We need the Holy Spirit as our guide in calm waters so His voice will be unmistakable to us in the fiercest storm (“Take the Holy Spirit as Your Guide,” General Conference, April 2018).
Today, I will prepare my mind for the challenges I may face today or in the future. I will do this by making the seemingly small decisions which will fortify me: surrounding myself by positive influences, being honest and kind, and seeking to follow the guidance of the Holy Ghost.