I have been thinking a lot recently about change; there's a lot afoot at work, my children are growing at an ever-quickening rate, and in our ward we see great promise and great challenge. It's simultaneously exhilarating and frightening, and I find that much of my day is spent examining, pondering, and selling change, to myself and others.
In this context I read the account of what follows King Benjamin's world-changing sermon to his people. After bearing his testimony of the Savior, Benjamin looks out at the people he loves and sees what he could have only hoped for.
Mormon describes the scene thusly: "They had fallen to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them.
Clearly, humility is a key component of our response to gospel truths. (This reminds me of a great exchange I had with my father some years ago. Me: "Dad, you're one of the humblest people I know." Dad (without missing a beat): "And proud of it.") In order to accept change in our lives, we have to accept that something is less than ideal in how we live our lives.
The people then call out, giving voice to the humility they have manifested: "And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ."
Seen in the context of my earlier discussion of the thesis statement of the Book of Mormon, the fact that the people call first and foremost for mercy through the grace of Christ is important.
The effects of this expression of humility and reliance on the grace of God comes next: "after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ."
And as the people are touched by the Spirit and forgiven for their sins, they are converted. They change their very nature, both in this moment and in the days and months and years to come. This is the kind of change that is meaningful, the kind of change that makes a difference in our lives. And as we grapple with change, we find the greatest hope for real change--change that we need in our individual lives, our relationships and families, our wards and neighborhoods and nations--as we accept our weaknesses and rely on something greater than ourselves to be truly, fully converted.