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Many of our family home evenings were memorable to me as a mother, but one particular Monday night stands out. I had prepared a lesson from the Book of Mormon about Nephi and his brothers. I wanted to emphasize the principle of obedience in a way that my children would remember how important it is to keep the Lord’s commandments. I hoped that they would also recognize the blessings associated with this gospel precept. That evening, however, I was the one who learned a valuable lesson.
My husband and I gathered our four young boys together in the living room. I sat on the couch and my boys sat cross-legged on the floor in front of me. I explained that Nephi demonstrated his obedience to both his father and to the Lord when he agreed to return to Jerusalem to obtain the brass plates. Despite the difficulty and the distance, Nephi’s declares, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded” (see 1 Nephi 3:7). With minimal tussling, my children sat quietly as I told them this story.
I explained that after several attempts to accomplish their purpose, the brothers had to flee Laban’s house without the gold and silver that they brought from their home. They had neither the plates nor their worldly wealth, and they were angry. Blaming their father and brother, the scriptures say that Laman and Lemuel were speaking harshly to Nephi and Sam, and then they began to smite them with a rod.
I had my family’s full attention as I related to them what happened when the older boys were hitting their younger brothers. I told them an angel of the Lord “came and stood before them and he spake unto them saying: Why do ye smite your younger brother with a rod?” (see 1 Nephi 3:29).
At that moment the similarities between those four sons of Lehi and my four sons became a little more apparent to me. I turned to my husband who was sitting next to me and quietly said, “Sometimes I wish an angel would come down here and stop the fighting.”
Before my husband could respond, my 8-year-old son said to me, “Mom, you’re the angel.”
Me, an angel? I didn’t feel like one. But then I asked myself, “What work do angels perform?” Among other responsibilities, angels are messengers from the Lord, and they minister to his children. Surely, these definitions bear a close resemblance to the lives of righteous women and their good works. Women have opportunities to teach, nurture and care for Heavenly Father’s children. I felt touched and inspired by my son’s comment.
Now, whenever I sing the second verse of “As Sisters In Zion” these words emphasize for me the significance of my experience: “The errand of angels is given to women; And this is a gift that as sisters, we claim: To do whatsoever is gentle and human, To cheer and to bless in humanities name.”
The late President James E. Faust underscored this concept for me in the April 1998 general conference, “May you have an eternal perspective as you go about your angelic cause of doing good so that it will not only lead you to become great women but ultimately to become queens in the eternities.”
Gail H. Johnsen resides in Draper, Utah. She graduated from Brigham Young University, and recently returned from a mission to Micronesia Guam. She is a writer, teacher, lyrist and actress. She and her husband are the parents of seven grown children.
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