A few years ago, a dear friend challenged me to read the Book of Mormon in 28 days, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it changed my life. I only had one baby at that time, and was able to read while he napped during the afternoons. I would make myself a little lunch, sit down on the couch with a comfy blanket, and read for around an hour every day in the quiet family room of our tiny third-story condo.
The act of diving headfirst into the scriptures, of truly feasting and pondering and studying increased my faith and understanding of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because I was spending so much time immersed in the scriptures and feeling the presence of the Holy Ghost so frequently and intensely, I felt it easier to ask my Father in Heaven for specific blessings I needed, and more confidence in receiving answers and inspiration than I ever have before. The stories came alive and I felt so deeply connected to all who participated in writing, translating and distributing that great book.
That was then. Now, it has been much harder to buckle down and read for such long periods of time. Now, I have four kids — none of whom nap — and only two are in school all day. They wake early and go to bed late, and there is hardly any “me” time to even shower, let alone sit down to read.
Excuses, I know. But that is my reality. I’ve enjoyed reading David J. Ridges' volumes of “Your Study of The Book of Mormon Made Easier” that include in-depth explanations, historical facts and insights from leaders of the church to help make this sacred text come alive even more, and have puttered along reading a few verses each night before bed.
I was in Alma, chapter 36, when President Russell M. Nelson gave several challenges to women during general conference, one of which was to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. He didn’t say, “go ahead and pick up where you are.” He said:
“I invite you to read the Book of Mormon between now and the end of the year. As impossible as that may seem with all you are trying to manage in your life, if you will accept this invitation with full purpose of heart, the Lord will help you find a way to achieve it. And, as you prayerfully study, I promise that the heavens will open for you. The Lord will bless you with increased inspiration and revelation.”
I accepted this challenge, and started over in my reading. And I must admit it has been more of a challenge than I thought. Instead of cruising through the pages or listening on my phone while doing housework, cooking, etc., I have to make the time to sit down, because not only did our dear prophet ask us to read, but he also said, “I would encourage you to mark each verse that speaks of or refers to the Savior.”
That happens to be almost every verse.
It is stunning to go back and look at all the pages that I have brightly marked. Yellow, purple, green and blue lines beautifully highlight his many titles: Savior, Redeemer, Messiah, Shepherd, Lord, the Lamb of God, the God of our Fathers, the God of nature, the Holy One of Israel, the Son of the most high God. There are many more — so many there are 10 full pages in the index with references to Jesus Christ.
I always knew the Book of Mormon was about Jesus Christ. But I didn’t realize that it was ALL about him. Everything talks about, points to, and bears witness of him.
Along with recognizing the significance of Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon, President Nelson also issued a challenge to “be intentional about talking of Christ, rejoicing in Christ and preaching of Christ with your families and friends.” If we do so, “You and they will be drawn closer to the Savior through this process. And changes, even miracles, will begin to happen.”
Recently I shared my testimony with a friend who is struggling. Instead of worrying about what to say or how to word my advice or suggestions, I spoke freely and openly. I asked if she was reading her scriptures as President Nelson challenged and was very bold and direct. I didn’t know how she would take it, but I felt inspired to share my feelings.
Later, she thanked me for my frankness and told me she was going to take the challenge and make changes in her life to live closer to the Savior. That was a miracle, and it strengthened my testimony of our prophet and my resolve to follow him — and thus my Savior — even more closely.
If you haven’t had a chance to crack open the Book of Mormon, don’t worry! It is not too late. Start now. Give your widow’s mite and watch how he blesses even your smallest efforts. I agree wholeheartedly with what a friend and sister in my ward recently said: “I think the Lord appreciates my most feeble attempt more than my greatest excuse.”
Lead image courtesy of Carmen Rasmusen Herbert
Carmen Rasmusen Herbert is a former American Idol contestant who writes about entertainment and family for the Deseret News. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.