There’s a lot clamoring for attention in this world. Especially this time of year. Sometimes our lives are noisy and every one of us is busy, busy, busy. We make commitments and overbook ourselves. So why would I ask you to add one more thing to your plate? What gives me the audacity to give you one more commitment? Let me answer with a question. Suppose you were having a birthday party with all your friends and family. Halfway through the celebration, somebody brings out a huge cake with to-die-for frosting. It is by far the most delicious cake you have ever tasted. When you bite into it, little tiny angels start floating around your head while singing the hallelujah chorus. It warms your whole body from the tip of your tiny toe to the top of your head. Now, that’s good cake. Are you going to share or are you going to let everyone just watch you eat? Me? I’m going to share my cake – let me explain why.
Code of Conduct
The Book of Mormon has given me a code of conduct to live by. I have read from its pages almost every day since I was 17 years old. That’s approximately 7,807 days – give or take a few days for laziness, sickness, or just plain rebelliousness. There’s still a lot of work for me to do in the character building department so I plan on reading it for the next 7,807 days and beyond. What can I say? I need lots of practice.
What have I learned (or am in the process of learning)? I’ve learned from Nephi that sometimes we have a lot of trials in our life. This is a man who left his home and all his belongings, was almost killed by Laban, and spent a good chunk of his life traveling. Not to mention, he was beaten and almost murdered by his own brothers on more than one occasion. I have verbally fought with all my siblings but none of them have laid a finger on me or wanted to kill me (I think).
Yes, we have trials. Life doesn’t always go according to plan. Sometimes it’s downright ugly. But how we respond to our trials determines our happiness. Not only in this life but in the life to come. When I receive a setback, I ask myself, do I want to be known as the murmuring Laman or the trusting Nephi? If I catch myself being a Laman I need to stop immediately and set a course correction.
Another great lesson I’ve learned by reading the Book of Mormon is to remember, “It’s about the people.” After Jesus Christ visited the people on the American continent, He was about to ascend to His Father again. He had spent some time tending and ministering to the people and wanted them to go home and rest with a promise that He would be back. Before He left, He could tell they didn’t want Him to go, yet. So, the Savior and Redeemer of the world stayed. He stayed and tended to the people (3 Nephi 17). What excuse could I possibly use if I ignore His children at any time? He taught me what’s important.
Balm of Gilead
Balm: An aromatic gum or spice used for healing wounds (Bible Dictionary). As I said before, sometimes life is downright ugly. Sometimes we get our hearts broken. Are we going to let someone else make us angry and bitter – or do we want to heal and feel peace. It is possible, even in our turbulent world, to feel peace and comfort.
I like to read Jacob. His chapters consist of him speaking to his people and calling them to repentance. But he also speaks to the victims. Those whose hearts were broken due to the actions of other people (usually people they loved dearly). Does that sound familiar?
He said, “But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.
“O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever” (Jacob 3:1-2).
And he will console you in your afflictions. He wants to help. He wants to comfort us – but we need to turn to Him first.
Another favorite of mine is the testimony of the prophet Alma. He taught, “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” (Alma 7:11-12).
We know He took upon us our sins so that we can repent. But He also took our pains and sicknesses. Every icky feeling we’ve had, He has felt. Why? So that He would know how to help us. If you are suffering without turning to Him, you are causing two people to suffer needlessly. You and Him. He’s already felt your pain and suffering and He wants to help you.
Always remember though, healing is more of a process not an event. For example, you cut your hand and immediately tend to it. You clean it, put some ointment on it and a bandage just like you’re supposed to. Does the cut instantaneously disappear? No, of course not. It takes time and there’s a process for the skin to repair itself. We should expect the same when it comes to healing our hearts. But turning to the Savior can heal our broken hearts and mend our defeated spirits. I promise there is peace to be found – even in this world.
The Road to Eternal Life
Finally, in the pages of the Book of Mormon we find the road to Eternal life clearly marked. What is Eternal life? It is the opportunity to live with not only Heavenly Father and Jesus – but our family. This is the biggest and best treasure Heavenly Father has to offer us. The road to Eternal life is our pathway to happiness.
And how is this achieved?
Every author in the Book of Mormon has told us the way. Amulek explained, “And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
“For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must needs be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made” (Alma 34:8-9).
The prophet Helaman counseled his sons, “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” (Helaman 5:12).
Jesus Christ, Himself, testified, “Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters” (Ether 3:14).
By consistently reading the Book of Mormon and Bible, I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior. It is only through Him that I will inherit eternal life. He is my Redeemer. He takes my imperfections and flaws so that I can be redeemed or “made good, or whole, or complete.”
Is it Worth It?
But is it necessary to read EVERY day? While on my mission, my companion and I were tracting – going door to door. We knocked at one house and a man answered the door. After hearing who we were, he suggested we “Quit the church” because we had been brainwashed. I asked him if he had ever read the Book of Mormon. He answered he had not. Well, I have. It is absolutely true. Find out for yourself and then hold onto that. There will come a time when having a testimony or not having one will make all the difference. Hold onto it like it is a most valued treasure – because it is.
It takes time to gain a testimony. Time and commitment. And so, even though you’re busy and you’ve already got a bazillion commitments, I urge you to read, pray, and know for yourself. Now is the time to find yourself in the Book of Mormon.
Of this I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.