I’ll never forget someone showing me the triangle graphic. You’ve likely seen it yourself. The idea was simple but for some reason it has never left me. If a married couple (both positioned in the bottom two corners of a triangle) are both focused on drawing closer to God (the top point of a triangle), they will ultimately draw closer to one another. I’ve found that the same is true of many other relationships in our lives. Whether it be a friendship, a mission companionship, or a parent-child relationship, if two people are trying to draw closer to God, their relationship with each other will also benefit.
During my time as a missionary, it struck me that a similar concept is true of a scripture we all know in Helaman 5:12—and arguably the most well-known verse in this week’s Come, Follow Me study. It speaks of building a foundation “on the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God . . . 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.”
This scripture could be referring to our lives when it speaks of building on the sure foundation of Christ, but it is my belief that many different aspects of our lives require a foundation, and in each case, building on a foundation of Christ is the best idea.
For example, when it comes to relationships, the triangle can also be applied to this scripture. If two people build a relationship on a foundation of Christ, it cannot fall. The tricky part here is that, of course, it takes two—both people must choose to build on that foundation while remaining committed to one another. But if they do, they are on solid ground—“a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”
This scripture helps us know what (or who) our testimony at its very base should be built on: our Redeemer. We cannot truly be converted to the gospel, which is His gospel, if we do not love and trust Him. True conversion means wanting to build our lives on His rock so much so that we are willing to make promises or covenants with Him.
As we begin Helaman, it is my hope that you will begin, if you haven’t already, to look for Him throughout the rest of the Book of Mormon. In the October 2018 women’s session of general conference, President Nelson made this promise after extending an invitation to read the Book of Mormon: “As you read, I would encourage you to mark each verse that speaks of or refers to the Savior. Then, be intentional about talking of Christ, rejoicing in Christ, and preaching of Christ with your families and friends. You and they will be drawn closer to the Savior through this process. And changes, even miracles, will begin to happen.”
Below you will find a few of my other favorite takeaways from this week’s study of Come, Follow Me.
Sunday on Monday
Someone once pointed out to me several references in Helaman that refer to the heart. I have always loved that about these chapters in Helaman 1–6 since.
For example, in Helaman 2, we read that the servant of Helaman, upon learning “all the heart of Kishkumen” and that he desired to kill Helaman, the servant “did stab Kishkumen even to the heart.” We are told that hearts of the people who belonged to the Church of God were purified and sanctified, “which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God” in Helaman 3:35. But in Helaman 3:36, we begin to observe an “exceedingly great pride” working its way “into the hearts of the people.” Later, in Helaman 4:12, we see that this pride led to wickedness. And in 5:24, as Nephi and Lehi are encircled about as if by fire, we read that “their hearts did take courage.”
As a result of my love for these scriptures, I appreciated when Sunday on Monday host Tammy Uzelac Hall pointed out that “throughout this book of Helaman, you’re going to see the word ‘heart’ repeated over and over and over again. . . .That is the very first body part that Satan attacks. . . . Why the heart of all the places Satan could attack?”
Hall points out on the podcast that this seems to be something our prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, is still concerned about—the condition of our hearts. As a world-renowned heart surgeon, President Nelson knows a thing or two about hearts, and in a video released by the Church in 2011, he warned that as was prophesied in Luke 21, in the last days men’s hearts shall fail them. “Mans’ hearts are failing, and that includes women, because they forget their identity and their purpose,” President Nelson said.
When I was in the Missionary Training Center, a speaker gave a talk that has stuck with me ever since. They said they had once visited a foreign country where instead of greeting one another by asking “How are you?” they instead asked, “How is your heart?” These chapters in Helaman remind us to be concerned about the condition of the heart, both ours and the hearts of others around us.
Come, Follow Me for Individuals and Families
In this week’s readings in the Come, Follow Me manual, I really loved this quote shared by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: “You have more faith than you think you do because of what the Book of Mormon calls ‘the greatness of the evidences’ [Helaman 5:50]. … The fruit of living the gospel is evident in the lives of Latter-day Saints everywhere” (“Lord, I Believe,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 94).
I have always been a big fan of experiences. It is by having an experience with a principle of the gospel that our testimonies of that principle are strengthened. I’ll never forget on my mission when I asked a high school student to share an experience he’d had with fasting. He replied, “Which one? I’ve got lots.” This is why in Malachi 3, the Lord said, “Prove me now herewith.” If there is a principle of the gospel you want to have a better testimony of, give it a shot and just wait to see if the principle blesses your life.
President Henry B. Eyring is a great example of looking for “the greatness of the evidences.” In his October 2007 general conference talk, he said that every day for years he asked himself, “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?”
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“As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day,” President Eyring said. “As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.”
As Elder Holland similarly said, “The fruit of living the gospel is evident,” we just have to look for it.
Don’t Miss This in the Book of Mormon
This week as I read in Don’t Miss This in the Book of Mormon devotional book (which is one of my favorite Deseret Book products this year), I was touched by something David Butler wrote. Maybe it resonated just because I am a pretty terrible runner, but he said that when he married his wife, who is a gifted runner, they made a deal: He would run one full 26.2-mile marathon and then he never had to do it again. Before training for the marathon, the longest he had ever run was three miles, but he did it! He trained, and on the day of the marathon, his grandpa gave him a piece of advice that may have seemed overly simplistic: “Just put on foot in front of the other.” While he laughed about it at first, he found himself not only thinking of his grandpa’s words during the race but many times in the years since.
“Mormon’s explanation for why the Lamanites were more righteous than the Nephites was categorized by two words—firmness and steadiness. It would be a compliment to be described as someone firm in the faith,” Butler explains, tying his experience to the scripture found in Helaman 6:1. “It sounds like someone who is strong and committed, whose devotion is unwavering. But for how long? What if it only lasts for a year? A firmness in faith is a wonderful thing, but it is only powerful when it is combined with steadiness. Steadiness implies someone who is in for the long haul. Someone committed to always putting one foot in front of the other. To me, this is what characterizes loyal, consistent disciples. Their steadiness is the reason they are firm.”
Simply putting one foot in front of the other as we seek to walk toward Christ, to build our foundation on Him, will result in a “greatness of evidences.” Our hearts will be changed and with that, our lives and our relationships will improve. As we continue on sure and steady, like the foundation on which we are built, we will find that we are doing better than we think we are and that God is more involved than we realize.