CHAINS OF HELL
In the summer of 1974, I was a new graduate from Utah State University at Logan, Utah with a bachelors degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. I accepted a position and began working for a consulting engineering firm, Horrocks and Associates, in American Fork, Utah. I had been married 2 years.
Horrocks really suited me. I learned a great deal from 2 senior engineers; technical engineering from Mr. Wimmer and human relations from Mr. Horrocks. Mr. Horrocks became and still is a personal hero of mine. You know, a personal hero is one of those people whose influence significantly changes your life for the better, you idolize certain features about them and you will never forget them. Mr. Horrocks was personable. Every time I met with him his friendly visit and smile were as if we were life-long friends. The next time we visited, he would again turn on his charm and then ask me specifically about my issues, personal and work related, that we discussed during the last conversation we had had. It was uncanny. I do not know how he could remember things so well but it was endearing and it worked for him. I have tried to add that attribute to myself ever since.
My assignment for the summer was to work as a field engineer during construction of a down town redevelopment project in American Fork. We tore out and replaced all sidewalks and street surfacing along with replacing all underground utilities. The new main street had irrigated trees, tree grates, benches, fountains, antique light poles, etc. making it to this day one of the most pleasant main streets in Utah to walk along.
One day during lunch, I was sitting on the ground leaning on a tree trunk in the Park eating a small lunch that I had brought from home. I was approached by a middle aged American Indian. He was polite and clean cut. He asked me if I would give him a few dollars. He said he had traveled on the bus for a few days from Arizona but somehow his bag which also contained his money did not get off the bus with him. He was hungry and wanted to buy food to tide him over until Greyhound Bus Lines returned his bag. The story and situation did not sound convincing to me. We were struggling to make ends meet as well, but I thought ‘what the heck,’ I’ll give him $5.00. I opened my wallet and found only a ten dollar bill plus a few ones. It hurt but I gave him the ten thinking it would surely buy plenty of alcohol for him. Before I went back on the job site, I had to get something in the grocery store. I was surprised to turn a corner in the store and come face to face with the Indian. He had a small shopping basket full of bread, cheese, lunch meat and other sandwich fixings. I was then and still am glad I gave him the money. It brought me happiness. I acted with faith and diligence to be generous with my substance instead of simply hearing about being generous. Paul said:
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:
24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (James 1:22-25)
Besides doing acts of kindness during your mission, you are lead or guided on your mission and in life by your Heavenly Father toward happiness (the symbolic Promised Land) when you act with faith, diligence and obedience.
28 … I, Nephi, beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them. (1 Nephi 16:28)
On the other hand you can be lead by the devil to unhappiness, misery, guilt and shame through temptations that affect the heart and the eyes.
17 And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost. (1 Nephi 12:17)
So we see the old phrase, “The devil made me do it,” is not true. The devil only has power to tempt you, and hopes that you will choose to blind your eyes and harden your heart. This is the antithesis of faith, diligence and obedience. It would have been easy to harden my heart toward the Indian; I have done it before with pan-handlers.
In addition to being lead and guided, you receive an increased portion of the word of God and increased knowledge and understanding by exercising diligence and obedience. Knowledge or knowing the mysteries of God will break spiritual bondage referred to in the scriptures as the chains of hell.
9 … It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell. (Alma 12:9-11)
Regarding the chains of hell brought by lack of knowledge, one of the most eerie of all scripture is a vision when Enoch viewed the devil who offers temptations that harden hearts, blind eyes and reduces knowledge. This is in opposition to faith, diligence and obedience:
26 And he beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced. (Moses 7:26)
At the end of the day, the Lord requires the heart and a willing mind. It is helpful to understand the relationship between: faith, diligence and obedience, plus: temptation, hardened hearts and blinded eyes. Also, knowledge or knowing a greater portion of the word protects us from the chains of hell when we lose our knowledge. Luckily I exercised faith, diligence and obedience with my Indian friend. I hope all of us can do the same in all our assignments as missionaries.