10 How is it that ye have forgotten that ye have seen an angel of the Lord?
11 Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten what great things the Lord hath done for us, in delivering us out of the hands of Laban, and also that we should obtain the record?
12 Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him.
(1 Nephi 7:10-12)
What does it mean to forget? We commonly use the term to refer to an accidental oversight, not an intentional misdeed. When we say, “I forgot to bring my umbrella,” or “I forgot you were coming today,” we are requesting some tolerance for an inconvenience, but the general implication is, “Anyone could have done this. It was an honest mistake.”
Yet there are some things that we are duty-bound not to forget. When a person arrives late to an important meeting or fails to fulfill the terms of a legal contract, “I forgot” is simply not an acceptable excuse. Forgetting may be unintentional, but remembering important things is both achievable and expected.
In the passage above, Nephi reproves his brothers for forgetting three things:
- They had seen an angel (1 Nephi 3:29). This brief but impactful experience surely qualifies as unforgettable, and neither Laman nor Lemuel were unaware that it had happened. However, they had failed to grasp the significance of the experience, and even immediately afterward, they had failed to factor the experience appropriately into their decisions. They stopped beating Nephi and Sam, but they continued to complain and to question the feasibility of their mission (1 Nephi 3:31). Now, as they returned from a second successful trip to Jerusalem, they were engaging in the same persecution of their brother which had led to the appearance of the angel the first time.
- They had successfully obtained the brass plates. After the angel appeared to them, Nephi had gone into the city, and the Lord had prepared the way for him to fulfill the apparently impossible assignment they had received (1 Nephi 4). Both Laman and Lemuel knew this, but they failed to learn from the experience. They continued to behave as they had before.
- The Lord can do anything for us if we have faith in Him. Laman and Lemuel surely understood this principle intellectually. Nephi reminded them of it immediately after their experience with the angel (1 Nephi 4:1-3). Furthermore, their own direct experience with the angel and with obtaining the brass plates could have inspired them to exercise faith in similar situations in the future. But they had forgotten the principle and were therefore failing to exercise faith in Him.
Today, I will remember the important spiritual experiences in my life. I will remember the lessons I have learned from those experiences and will ponder what I can do to incorporate those lessons into my future decisions.