While on the plane home for Christmas break, I decided that one of my goals for these two weeks was to finish the Book of Mormon before the end of the year. Once I actually got here and the fun started, however, my resolve weakened, and I decided I would just keep reading it as I had been, about a chapter per day.
Then this restored my enthusiasm, and I decided to buckle down and stick to my plan. Now that 2014 is here (bringing a chance to start my favorite book once again from page i), I wanted to share a bit of what I learned reading it in the second half of 2013.
This time through, I read the Book of Mormon with a focus on faith. I wanted to learn everything I could about faith, the end goal being strengthening my own. My big overall observation is that yep, the Book of Mormon talks a lot about faith. I’d even say that no other book in the world will help learn about and develop faith like this one.
A slightly less general observation was that, many times, my Book of Mormon heroes gained the faith that they needed by remembering—remembering their own past experiences with God and remembering the things that He had done for their ancestors.
I have been thinking a lot lately about how fragile memory is, how fleeting; I was only gone for two short years on my mission, yet in that time I completely forgot all of the dances that I worked so hard to learn the year before I left. I also forgot basically all of calculus, and had to re-teach myself all of Calc I before I started getting the hang of Calc II. That’s not to mention how often I forget somebody’s name only a few seconds after they tell it to me.
The point is, I’m really forgetful, and even though God has manifested Himself to me, my family, and the world many, many times, I’m probably going to forget that they have happened unless I make a conscious effort to remember.
Knowing this, I guess it makes sense that one reason we take the sacrament every week is to remember Him.
The most important (for me) observation from this read-through actually came in the first few weeks of reading, in 1 Nephi chapter 9. Verse 6 reads, “But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it is. Amen.”
I started to think a little bit about what it means that God prepareth a way to accomplish His works. Really, it means that whenever He commands me to do something, before He gives the commandment—before I begin the internal struggle of faith to see if I will be faithful to Him—He has already prepared the way for me to do it. I sometimes think that, if I take a leap of faith off of a cliff, God will swoop down like an eagle to keep me from falling. Maybe a better analogy is actually that He already built a road for me to land on and walk along. I still can’t see the road until I take the first step, but it’s there. Perhaps it’s been there for longer than I have been alive. Perhaps God began building that road for me at the same time He created this world!
How can I not trust Him if He really is that solid and dependable? How can I not follow Him if the way is already prepared?
Lastly, I’d like to share a small verse from my favorite book in the Book of Mormon, Alma. Chapter 5, verse 12, says, “And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart.”
In this particular verse Alma the Younger is talking about the conversion of his father, but this is a true principle for every son of Adam and daughter of Eve on this earth: Faith changes your heart. I’ve seen this in the lives of countless people around me, and also in my own.
I’d like to extend a little invitation to whoever is reading this today. Read this book. I have, I know it’s true, and I have seen and felt my faith grow stronger as I have done so. Whether you have read it before, or whether this is the first time you’ve ever heard of it, why not give it a shot? Why not set a goal to read it with me in 2014?
(Oh, and you can find it here. Enjoy.)