The Book of Mormon is my favorite book of scripture. I know that is like having a favorite child—it just shouldn’t be done. But The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is my favorite. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—which is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the Mormon Church, because we believe in The Book of Mormon as well as the Bible—I am grateful that I have been able to study and read from this book my entire life.
The Book of Mormon is a record of some of the peoples in the ancient Americas and God’s dealings with them. It is also another testament of Jesus Christ and a reminder to look to Him in all things.
I learned to love The Book of Mormon at my father’s feet. Growing up, my parents would get us up at 5:30 in the morning…all 8 kids. And my dad would read to us out of The Book of Mormon. My dad was a great storyteller, and he made the stories in The Book of Mormon come alive for me. After he read, we would discuss what the verses meant, how they related to us in our family and how we could apply what we learned in our own lives. 2 Nephi 25:26 says, “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” My parents exemplified that for our family.
I still remember reading in 1 Nephi 3: 29, where an angel tells the brothers of the prophet Nephi, then just a young man, that because of Nephi’s righteousness, he would be made a ruler over them…his older brothers. And my dad saying, “That’s like having Rachel rule over Shelley, Sharon and Lisa.” Being the third in line, that didn’t sound so great to me. I wanted to be righteous so I didn’t have to be ruled by Rachel.
The Book of Mormon begins with the prophet Lehi and his family in Jerusalem about 600 BC. As my dad explained to us, Lehi had money, and his oldest sons, Laman and Lemuel, ran in the popular crowd. Lehi saw a vision and was commanded by God to preach repentance unto the people of Jerusalem, but the people were so wicked they sought to kill him. So the Lord commanded Lehi to take his family and journey into the wilderness to a land of promise, which he did. 1 Nephi 2: 4 says,
And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, his provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness.
Lehi and his family had to leave, first of all, because Lehi was in real danger of being killed. But the land of promise, across many waters, was a place that the Lord had reserved as a safe haven for his righteous people as long as they remained righteous. And they took only what they needed with them as a metaphor for their journey: they were leaving behind the world and all of its frivolity, and they didn’t need to take any materialistic reminders with them.
Laman and Lemuel were angry and complained bitterly that they had to leave their friends, home and possessions and go into the wilderness because their dad was a dreamer. Nephi, on the other hand, was obedient and followed his father without murmuring. Sam, the third son—me in my family—was also obedient. So I took comfort in the fact that my counterpart in the story was righteous (sorry Shelley and Sharon).
As a child, I related to things as a child. I saw that Laman and Lemuel were whiners and caused lots of problems and that Nephi was obedient and tried to be a peacemaker. I related to the stories and the people in the stories. I loved reading the scriptures and felt the difference that it made in my life. As I study The Book of Mormon as an adult, I see the deeper complexities in the scriptures. The Book of Mormon truly is another testament of Jesus Christ, our Savior. From the beginning of the book, Nephi turns to the Lord in his time of need and trusts that the Lord will never let him down. As an adult, I understand how Nephi was able to follow his father and not complain, even when the journey seemed unforgiving and impossible. 1 Nephi 2:16 says,
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know the mysteries of God, wherefore I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore I did not rebel like unto my brothers.
Nephi was a man of great faith who was able to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks. This scripture shows us some of the keys to Nephi’s greatness. First, he had a desire to know. Second, he asked the Lord for help. And third, he softened his heart, or in other words, he humbled himself. As I study the qualities that shaped Nephi, I gain a greater understanding of the things that I need to do to achieve “greatness.” I am under no illusion that my greatness will ever be as Nephi’s, but I can find the peace, comfort and happiness that he found. I learn these things by studying the scriptures. Not just reading, but truly studying and applying in my life the things I learn.
My husband and I are trying to instill the same love of scriptures in our children. We have read the scriptures as a family every day for almost 5 years. Up until this school year, we would read at night. This year we decided to read in the morning (7:15 instead of 5:30…I just can’t seem to commit that early). Sometimes we have the kids each read a verse, and sometimes we read to them. But if we ever forget, the kids will remind us. We read and discuss, and hopefully are laying a foundation for our children, so they may know where to look for guidance.
In 2009, we decided to have a yearly family scripture theme (I can’t take credit for the idea…but I loved the idea and decided to implement it in our family). The theme is something that as a family we focus on. We memorize the scripture and say it as a family. All but the youngest can recite these scriptures, reference included, by heart.
This week we are each taking a scripture theme and explaining what they mean and why they are important to our family. That was my idea. We started with 2012’s scripture, which is Mosiah 2:41:
And moreover I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
This scripture has special significance to our family, and specifically my husband, which is the reason it is our theme for this year. My husband’s father died in June 2011, and my husband went to California to say goodbye to his dad and thus was there when his dad died. He was also able to help his mother prepare for the funeral. She asked him to choose a scripture to put on the program. So my husband took his father’s scriptures and looked through them, and he found this verse underlined. So Mosiah 2:41 was the scripture that was on my father-in-law’s funeral program.
Last year we had 2 scripture themes, one of which was Alma 37: 37. Alma 37:37 says,
Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings and He will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.
I love that scripture because it reminds me to pray always, to look to the Lord in all things and to be grateful for the blessings given to me.
Our family scripture themes remind me, and I hope they remind my children as well, of the things upon which we should be focused.
Life gets hard sometimes. And sometimes the hard times seem to linger longer than we would like. But during those times, as I turn to the scriptures, I find the peace and comfort I am seeking. At one point recently, I was really struggling with one of those hard times. And as I was reading my scriptures I came upon Mosiah 23:21-22, which says, “Nevertheless, the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith. Nevertheless—whosever putteth his truth in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day. Yea, and thus it was with this people.” I realized that the Lord was trying my faith and patience, but that I needed to put my trust in him. Then I read in Mosiah 24:13-14, and it seemed that the Lord was talking to me:
And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
This brought me a powerful feeling of peace and comfort. The Lord was talking to me directly through this scripture. And he was telling me exactly what I needed to hear. I am very grateful for that. This is not the only time that a verse of scripture I am reading seems to be meant just for me at that very moment in time. I know it is the power of The Book of Mormon that this occurs.
I know that The Book of Mormon is true. I have gained a testimony for myself that it is the word of God to us, to offer comfort and guidance in our times of need, and knowledge of who we are and why we are here on this earth. I invite all earnest seekers of truth to truly study The Book of Mormon, to discover for yourself the power found in its pages. The experiences I have while reading The Book of Mormon help me to understand, in great depth, how much the Lord loves me and cares about me, that he does answer my prayers and he does have a plan for me. I am eternally grateful for the guidance, direction, comfort, peace and knowledge found as I read The Book of Mormon.
This article was written by Lisa Montague, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.