I confess that there’s been a sort of dread in me this year as I have anticipated the holidays coming. Life has been very stressful the past while, and even with all the good that comes of family and food and fun, there is a lot about the holidays that can drain me, even when I try hard not to let that happen.
And today, my daughter and I missed the Thanksgiving celebrations because she was sick. It didn’t feel much like a holiday at all for us.
As I gathered my kiddos around tonight for scripture study, I decided to read in 1 Nephi 13 where Nephi sees some of the history of America: Christopher Columbus being inspired to come, the pilgrims being guided across the waters, and more.
As I read these wonderful verses to my girls, suddenly one of my favorite verses came to mind: “…I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance” (1 Nephi 1:20).
I was able to re-read these verses with my son (I actually did scriptures in two shifts tonight) after this flash of inspiration had come…and then I noticed with him that the word ‘captivity’ shows up multiple times in 1 Nephi 13 (7, to be exact).
I wanted to record this so I don’t forget, because suddenly Thanksgiving meant a lot more to me. The Book of Mormon teaches that God brought the pilgrims to this land to bring them out of captivity, and I have usually thought of that as being a physical sort of bondage (which it was). It was also a religious bondage they were in, yes. But this chapter is really as much a commentary on the Deliverance of the Savior for all of us — how He can free us from the bonds of the pull of the world: “gold, and silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine-twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing, and…many harlots. … And, also…the praise of the world” (vs. 7-9).
But those who had “gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord and the power of the Lord was with them.”
And so it can be for all of us. We as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe the colonizing of America was part of God’s plan, but it has nothing to do ultimately with thinking that America is the only place for people to be blessed. It was simply the place where the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ could take place…which gospel is captured so beautifully by the prophet Isaiah:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.
This is what I want to remember throughout the holidays. Jesus came to earth to be our Deliverer.
I am giving thanks tonight for the power and peace these verses brought to me. Happy Thanksgiving, indeed.