In my last post, I introduced Moroni, a teenager who had been a soldier and then a prophet before he even finished his teen years. As a teenager, he experienced the deaths of all his family and friends, remaining alive to do an important assignment for God. He was assigned to finish abridging (shortening) the records of the prophets of his civilization—the entire history of centuries.
After they were finished he hid them in the Hill Cumorah in New York State. Once they were hidden the second time—he came back and wrote more once-we don’t have any more record of him until long after his death.
The story of Moroni is one of an amazing teenager who changed history. Moroni’s story after death involves another teenager who would go on to change the world with Moroni’s help.
Joseph Smith was fourteen years old and living in upstate New York, in the town where Moroni had hidden the records of his people. Where he lived, people were pretty excited about religion. They were holding a lot of revivals (religious gatherings) meant to get people to join the church holding the revival. Joseph, his mother, and his siblings, attended many of them. His father preferred to worship privately at that time.
Most people, including some of his family, began choosing religions or changing religions based on what they learned at the different revivals and church services, but Joseph found they only confused him. His parents allowed him to make his own choice, so he listened carefully, but he was very intelligent and tended to think about the things he was being taught. The more he listened, the more questions he had and the more confused he became. How was someone supposed to know which church God wanted him to join? Every church claimed to be the true church of God, but they all taught conflicting doctrine. Truth was truth and they couldn’t all be right if they disagreed with each other.
One day he was reading in his Bible when he came across a scripture that gave him the answer to this complicated question. He was reading in the King James version of the Bible and found James 1:5, which is in the New Testament. It said,
“If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
Joseph was amazed. Of course! This was the answer he’d been looking for. God knew which church was true and was the only person who could give him the answer he wanted. Everyone around him had answers, but only God’s was certain to be right. He went to the woods near his home and knelt down. For the first time in his life, he prayed out loud in the privacy of the woods.
Satan panicked at this turn of events. He tried to stop it from happening, but after a short time, Joseph saw a light in the sky coming toward him. In the light were Jesus and God, appearing above him. He was introduced to them and then invited to ask his question. He explained that he didn’t know which church to join. Jesus Christ asked him not to join any of them because none were entirely correct.
He accepted this answer and went on with his life. Since he mistakenly thought people would be excited to receive an official answer to the questions they’d all been asking, he talked to people about his experience, only to discover people were angry with him. Those who led other churches were especially angry. His teen years became a bit complicated at that point.
Later, he would pray to find out what God wanted him to do. He was now a young adult, and Moroni came to him. Moroni was now an angel and God had given him the privilege of preparing Joseph to restore the complete gospel of Jesus Christ. Joseph would be shown the plates Moroni had once hidden away, but not allowed to take them. First, he had a lot of learning to do and a lot of growing up to do.
Being given a chance to change the world with God’s help is exciting, but if we don’t do it properly, we’re wasting the opportunity. We have to be mature and responsible. Joseph would face many trials and temptations once his work began. He had to learn wisdom and responsibility and Moroni served as his private tutor. Several years of hard work began before Joseph was allowed to take the plates and begin to translate them into English, since of course, Moroni hadn’t written them in English.
When they were translated, they became The Book of Mormon, named in honor of Moroni’s father, who had started the process of condensing the records. The newly restored church started with only six people, but today, millions of people have read the Book of Mormon and changed their lives. Mormons around the world are changing the world with their humanitarian work and teachings about God.
Moroni changed the world as a teenager because he had the courage to face terrible trials with faith and to continue God’s work while coping with extraordinary grief. After his death, he came to another young man, whose life had changed because, as a teenager, he set out to learn and do God’s will, to help him prepare for the next step. Does it make you feel special that God started preparing clear back in Moroni’s day to give you an amazing gift? What do you learn from the fact that he used teenagers for this important work?
You might not be left in charge of sacred records or restoring the gospel, but God has a plan for you. He intends for you to change the world in large or small ways. It doesn’t matter if it’s as small as helping a seven-year-old with a learning disability master reading or as big as starting a world-wide organization. Every act of world-changing you get involved in matters to God.
Before you can change the world, though, you have to prepare yourself. Don’t wait for an angel. You can do this on your own. Become the kind of person God can trust with His work.