At the last General Conference for our church we were asked to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year. I did the math and in order to finish with a bit of a buffer we’d have to read three chapters as a family a day. So we got started.
Our format for how we accomplish this has changed a bit to fit our family’s particular needs. The kids have shown how tired they are when they are asked to read in the morning. There’s a lot of misreadings that occur when eyes are still closed. One example of the misreading that has emerged was with our 13-year-old son who has recently found himself quite enjoying sports.
Just over a year ago he went from being pretty sedentary to playing football. Then he tried baseball. Football season showed up again. Then it was wrestling. He was actively wrestling when we started reading the Book of Mormon and the season was still going strong when we got to Alma chapter 8. His portion of reading landed on verse 10 which says:
10 Nevertheless Alma alabored much in the spirit, bwrestling with God in cmighty prayer, that he would pour out his Spirit upon the people who were in the city; that he would also grant that he might baptize them unto repentance.
The teenager missed the comma between spirit and wrestling. He literally read it as spirit-wrestling then didn’t finish the sentence. He exclaimed, “Spirit wrestling! Sounds cool!”
I’m not sure what he was thinking spirit wrestling was. Maybe it was when he was sore from practice the night before and he figured he’d be less sore if his body wasn’t required for wrestling. We’ll never know for sure. His siblings and mother pointed out the error, he got embarrassed and now it’s a subject he’s not willing to revisit.
The word wrestling in the scriptures is significant here. I hope that when adults read it they not only remember the all important comma, but that they also consider the nature of the verb. Any good wrestling match is tiring. It’s usually a match that in order to win one must have prepared to be stronger and capable of out maneuvering his opponent. Opponents are intentionally evenly matched and in many cases they are decided by one person’s will overcoming the other.
You’ll notice here that the word spirit isn’t capitalized. Alma wasn’t wrestling with the Spirit of God. That would be spirit with a capital S. He’s wrestling with his own spirit. He’s wrestling with his personal feelings and goals to bring them to a level of humility that he might approach our Father in Heaven asking for things that are His will.
We can take a great lesson from this verse, look at our own lives and see if there is anything that might require us to wrestle with our spirits in order to be the person we need to be in order to feel comfortable when we see our Heavenly Parents once again.