Ammon was one of the sons of Mosiah. He was going to teach the Lamanites. But there was a problem. The Lamanites didn’t like the Nephites. And nobody wants to listen to someone they don’t like. But Ammon wanted the Lamanties to believe in God and Jesus and so he wanted to teach them about why everyone was here on the earth and what would happen after death. Ammon thought that if the Lamanties knew all this, they would believe in God. No problem.
And so Ammon came up with a sneaky plan. He wouldn’t trick them into liking him. Then they would listen to him. And then he could teach them all the stuff he knew. And then they would believe in God.
The first step was getting the Lamanites to like him. And so Ammon thought to himself, “Ammon, what is likeable? Bunnies are likeable, because they are cute.” But how was Ammon going to be like a bunny? And then he remembered that the Lamanties were known to catch and eat bunnies for dinner without even cooking them. A bunny would not be likeable enough. So he thought, what is the most likeable thing of all?
Then he remembered his parents. He liked his parents a whole lot. And why did he like his parents? He didn’t know exactly. It was just that they liked him so much that “like” wasn’t a good enough word for it anymore. They loved him. And because they loved him deeply, he grew to love them too.
That was it! Ammon knew what to do. He was going to learn to love the Lamanites. Then they would love him too. And so he tried to love the Lamanites. He tried as hard as he could. He squinted his eyes shut and held his breath, and tried to feel love. He felt something. It was a good feeling. Was it love? Had he done it already? This was going to be easy, he thought.
And so he marched right into the center of a city to meet the people. And there they were. They were handsome and pretty and tan and beautiful. And he was shaky and nervous because he was going to meet new friends. And he raised his hand and waved hi and said, “My name is Ammon, I love you and I am so glad to meet you.” And they grabbed him and tied his hands together and kicked him and brought him to the king of the city. “Loving these people is going to be harder than I thought,” Ammon said.
The King did not look very nice. And when he spoke, he did not sound very nice either. “Who are you silly Nephite?” the king said. “We don’t like Nephites even when they are miles away. We like Nephites even less when they are stupid enough to come into our city. Why did you come here? We don’t like you.”
Ammon did not know what to say. He was sore from being kicked and his wrists hurt from the ropes around them. And he was feeling a little sad that his sneaky plan was not working out so well. But he was still optimistic. And Ammon said, “I am sorry you don’t like me. But I want to like you. Let me be your servant. That way I can get to know you. And once I get to know you, how can I help but like you. That way everyone is happy. I get to like you. You don’t have to like me. And you get an extra servant who works for free.
The king could see no problems with his logic. And so he agreed. And so Ammon began to work for the king. He took care of his sheep, prepared his food and his horses. And in the process, he learned about the King’s favorite food and his favorite horse, his hobbies and his great wealth. But he also learned some bad things about the king. The king had a temper. And that temper was hard to love. Because when the king had his temper, he would do bad things. He even had a few of his servants executed for making a mistake.
This worried Ammon. Not because he was scared of being executed. But because he was worried that he would not be able to love a man with such a terrible temper. Ammon had thought that if he got to know the king, it would be easy to love him. But the opposite was happening. It was becoming harder and harder and harder. But Ammon remained optimistic.
And so Ammon prayed to God and said, I need help loving this man. And God came into Ammon’s heart and filled it with love. And that love was so powerful that Ammon became the greatest servant the king had ever had. Ammon cleaned faster, cooked tastier, and protected the sheep better than anyone else had ever done. He was so good, that when a group of ten or twenty men tried to steal some of the sheep, Ammon fought them all off, by himself.
The king was amazed at what Ammon could do. He didn’t want to admit it, but he was beginning to like Ammon. He asked Ammon, “Ammon, why are you doing so much for me.” And Ammon said, “Because I love you and I want what is best for you.” And the king said, “Why do you love me, Ammon? Don’t you know I have a terrible temper? Don’t you know I’ve done bad things? I am not lovable. I am just powerful. I could understand why you would fear me. But I don’t understand how you could love me.”
“At first, it was not easy to love you,” Ammon said. “But I asked for God’s help, and he put love into my heart because he already loved you. And that love was like a torch that lit my own candle. And now I love you too. And I want to teach you about why you are here and where you are going so that you will believe in God.”
The King looked dizzy. He already knew about God. He called God “The Great Spirit.” But while he knew about God, he had never felt God. Not like this. God was filling his body, it felt warm as fire and cool as water. And just before the king fainted to the floor, Ammon saw a look of astonishment flash across his face.
Astonishment, a definition:
It’s what happens when you feel the love of God. It feels like a surprise birthday, only better because we can all imagine how fun a birthday can be. But we are all always unable to imagine how much God loves us. It is too much.
Ammon’s sneaky plan had worked. He had come to love the king. And so the king loved him, and listened to what he had to say about God and Jesus. But this was the surprising part. The king already knew about God. But knowing about God isn’t quite the same thing as feeling God. What the king needed was to experience God. And once he had, his understanding of life transformed. And he was able to believe everything Ammon taught him. And feel it, too.
And Ammon realized that he had not really been sent to teach the king things about God. God could not be taught. He could not be explained. He did not exist because he made sense. He just existed. And He loved. And His love is small and big, hot and cold, fire and water. And it is by this love that He moved from Ammon to the King and to each of us.
Worry not, friends, we will be writing the story of Abish, too. We don’t put all our stories on the blog so we can save some of our favorites exclusively for the book. And Abish, well, that’s a favorite.
All artwork by Lauren Blair.
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