A few months ago a teacher in Relief Society, Rachel Jenkins, encouraged the sisters to read the Book of Mormon again, but this time she asked us to do 4 things. (1) Pray before you begin reading. (2) Read. (3) Think about what you’ve read. (4) Write about how it affected you. I decided to do it, and have been deeply impressed with how much more I have learned by doing this. Thank you, Rachel!
Though this is highly personal, I’m going to share a few of the scripture verses and the thoughts I wrote about them in the hope that you may find this way of reading the scriptures helpful to you, too. I decided to start at the beginning, yet again. Even though my husband and I were in Third Nephi at the time. This would be a private venture with the scriptures, and so I began. As you will see, my writing is simple and brief, but meaningful to me. It may not mean much to you, but as you do this for yourself it will, indeed, mean everything to you. I will share only a few.
1 Nephi 1:20
“…the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.”
I can be comforted by this promise, that, if I am faithful, Heavenly Father will give me the strength and power to overcome my problems. He will deliver me from them. As I deal with our mentally disabled child everyday, with issues Gary and I seem powerless to help her with, He will help us know what to do. He will grant His “tender mercies” to be with us and guide us and her. We are not alone in this. He is with us and He is with her. Even though our journey is hard, this is comforting to know and be reminded of.
1 Nephi 3:7 & 8
I’m once again inspired by Nephi’s faith in doing what the Lord commanded him—“I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”
Then the words of verse 8 penetrated my heart: “And it came to pass that when my father had heard these words he was exceedingly glad, for he knew that I had been blessed of the Lord.” I suddenly related to what Lehi was experiencing. That was the very feeling Gary and I had two nights before reading this, when our son, Paul, called to tell us he had been called to serve as 2nd counselor in their ward bishopric. We were “exceedingly glad, for we knew that he had been blessed of the Lord.” There is no greater happiness than to see our children walk in righteousness. I felt Lehi’s joy in his son’s faithfulness.
1 Nephi 7:21
“. . . and I did frankly forgive them all that they had done, and I did exhort them that they would pray unto the Lord their God for forgiveness . . . and they did so.”
Nephi was quick to forgive his brothers. A great lesson to everyone who has ever been insulted or hurt by someone. He had every reason to hold a grudge against his brothers who had done so much harm—even threatened to kill him—but instead he “frankly forgave them” What an example!
1 Nephi 8:37
Lehi was so concerned for the spiritual well being of Laman and Lemuel because in his vision of the tree of life they did not partake of the fruit. I’m touched by Nephi’s description of what Lehi did in an effort to teach his wayward sons: “And he did exhort them with all the feeling of a tender parent, that they would hearken to his words, that perhaps the Lord would be merciful to them, and not cast them off;”
I know the feeling! Oh, how we pray for the members of our family who are less faithful. We pray for them to come back into the Church and enjoy the blessings of the gospel. Mostly we feel impressed to just love them and be a righteous example to them—always doing it with “all the feeling of a tender parent.”
1 Nephi 10:5
This chapter tells about Nephi’s desire to see the vision of the tree of life his father had seen. He believed without a doubt “that the Lord was able to make them known unto [him].” When the Spirit began to unfold the vision to him He asked Nephi if he believed the words of his father. He answered, “Yea, thou knowest that I believe all the words of my father.”
This reminded me that I also have believed all the words of my father. My dad, Clarence Saunders, was a righteous man, filled with the Spirit of the Lord as he taught his children. I can remember many experiences he shared with me as a small child, then as a teenager, and as an adult. He never ceased sharing his testimony with us. I can also remember feeling the Spirit bear witness that the things he taught were true. I am so grateful for such a righteous father and pray I will always honor him by living the things he taught, like Nephi honored his father. I look forward to the day when I will be with him and my dear mother once again.
1 Nephi 17:3
This is the scripture that has comforted me many time. I decided to memorize this part of it. “And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he commanded them;”
Two days after I read and memorized this scripture I went, as usual, to do my duty as an ordinance worker in the temple. In the preparation meeting where the matron gives a spiritual message, always based on a scripture from any of the standard works, she said, “Today our scripture is . . .” and she quoted the very scripture I had just memorized. I almost fell of the chair. Of all the scriptures that could have been picked, it was this one that I had just memorized.
Following the meeting I was asked to meet with her in her office. To my great surprise—and I mean great surprise —I was called to serve in a very difficult position, one I had hoped never to be called to. I love doing the ordinance work of the temple, but a leadership calling for our shift, well, that seemed just too hard for me. I had observed these shift coordinators and marveled at how difficult and demanding the job is. Then the words I had memorized filled my mind “ And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he commanded them.” I knew then, with His help I could do it.
Had I not been reading the Book of Mormon and writing about it I would not have been ready with this scripture in my mind and heart, which helped me accept this assignment. It is amazing how the Lord blesses us through His holy scriptures.
I recommend studying the scriptures by (1) Praying before you begin reading. (2) Reading. (3) Thinking about what you’ve read. (4) Writing about how it affected you. It has been a blessing for me even in just the short few months I’ve been doing it.
I believe the words of President Ezra Taft Benson: “Is there not something deep in our hearts that longs to draw nearer to God? . . . If so, then the Book of Mormon will help us do so more than any other book.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church, p. 125)
[For books and article by Gary and Joy Lundberg visit their website at https://www.garyjoylundberg.com/]