Last year, President Russell M. Nelson invited the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to read The Book of Mormon by the end of the 2018 year. I accepted the invitation and finished it on December 30, 2018. I would like to share some thoughts with you.
First, this was a personal redemption for me.
When I was 15 years old, President Gordon B. Hinckley invited all of the members of the Church to read The Book of Mormon by the end of the 2005 year. President Hinckley issued the invitation in August 2005, so I had two more months the first time around; but I did not finish The Book of Mormon until April 2006. I was really disappointed in myself, and was determined to finish in the three months that President Nelson gave us.
When I was preparing for my most recent reading of The Book of Mormon, I found a 90-day schedule that had me reading 2-4 chapters a day. At first I was a little crestfallen. I could not imagine myself having time to read more than one chapter a day. How was I going to finish? The Spirit chastised me and reminded me that I read multiple chapters a day in my other books, I could do the same with The Book of Mormon. So I put my other reading aside, and focused on The Book of Mormon.
Second, during this time, I frequently thought about what it means to follow a prophet of God.
This invitation was given by God’s living prophet. Unsurprisingly, there were murmurs to this invitation (as stated above), I even had a brief moment of murmuring. But I believe that following the prophet is not something that can be done at the snap of a finger without previous practice. We have to practice with seemingly little things: reading The Book of Mormon; using the proper name for the Church; accepting changes to meeting schedules, etc. When we are able to follow the prophet in those things, we will find it easier to follow the prophet in big things like policy changes/clarifications, calls to be bold and brave in defending God’s kingdom, accepting revelation, etc.
If you didn’t finish by December 31, 2018 did you fail in following the prophet? Absolutely not! On his Facebook page, President Nelson said,
“I hope that each of these invitations has brought you closer to the Savior. If you have struggled with any of them, please do not be hard on yourself. You can start today. The Lord is happy with any effort we make to draw closer to him.
I promise that as you prayerfully study The Book of Mormon, the heavens will open for you. The Lord will bless you with increased inspiration and revelation.”
If you haven’t finished reading The Book of Mormon yet, don’t give up. You have already succeeded by starting it.
Third, reading The Book of Mormon so quickly gave me a new perspective.
Like I mentioned earlier, I was encouraged to read the way I read my other books. In reading multiple chapters a day, everything felt more connected. There were days where I was sad to put it down and do other things. Whenever I read a really good book or series, there is always a point in the story where I zoom through to the end because it’s so good. In The Book of Mormon that point, for me, was when Ammon protects King Lamoni’s sheep and teaches him about Jesus Christ. Reading about that generation of Lamanites converting to the gospel touches my heart, and I zoomed through the rest of The Book of Mormon after that.
Even though I read The Book of Mormon like my other books, it’s not just another book. The Book of Mormon is a true record, a primary source about people who lived in ancient America. The people in this book actually lived, the stories written in it actually happened. It testifies of Jesus Christ.
I wish I could share all of the verses that speak to me, but that would make this post much too long. However, I will end by sharing a few favorites:
And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.
And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
3 Nephi 18:22-25
And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not.
But ye shall pray for them and shall not cast them out; and if it so be that they come unto you oft ye shall pray for them unto the Father, in my name.
Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up – that which ye have seen me do. Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father, and ye all have witnessed.
And ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded ye should come unto me, that ye might feel and see even so shall ye do unto the world; and whosoever breaketh this commandment suffereth himself to be led into temptation.
Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things and ponder it in your hearts.