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In real life or in the movies we’ve all seen sailors or life guards throw out a lifesaver ring to rescue people flailing in the water, about to drown. They grasp the ring with grateful fervency because it literally can save their life. That’s how we feel about the Book of Mormon. Not once but continually, it saves us from drowning in the sorrows and agonies we find ourselves in as mortals. It has remarkable power to save, guide, and comfort all who turn to it in sincerity.
We’ll share a few personal stories that show what this has meant to us and others.
1. What about those who have strayed?.
Recently I (Joy) was reading in my Book of Mormon commentary, Scripture Study Made Simple: The Book of Mormon, by Kathryn Jenkins Gordon, about the writings of Isaiah that Jacob was teaching the people. As I read the prophecies concerning the disobedient I became fearful, once again, for members of our family who have strayed. Isaiah wrote: “And many among them shall stumble and fall, and be broken and snared, and be taken.” The commentator sited Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who said, “They shall take offense because of his teachings and be condemned and broken and snared and taken for rejecting them.” My heart was filled with sorrow over the fact that it appears to be what’s happening to those in our family who have ceased believing.
With sad tears filling my eyes, I kept reading. With a prayer in my heart for these dear ones, I wondered what else I could do to bring them back. The words of Isaiah said, “I will wait upon the Lord.” Elder Robert D. Hales was then quoted to further explain this statement. “‘Wait upon the Lord’ . . . Healing comes in the Lord’s time and the Lord’s way; be patient.”
I was suddenly filled with a calmness and knew I needed to be patient. I had been thinking, “What can I do to awaken them? What can I say powerfully enough to make them see?” The thought came strongly to my mind, after reading Elder Hale’s statement, that I do not need to do the Lord’s job. He’ll take care of all that. We just need to keep on doing what we are doing: notice and comment on the good in their lives, avoid arguments and reprimands, and just keep on loving them and praying for them. And, oh yes, be an example of His teachings. In other words, “wait upon the Lord.” I just need to do my job, and He’ll do his. This day I was rescued once again by the Book of Mormon.
2. What comes after death?
Our gospel doctrine teacher, Colleen Stohlton, who has given me permission to share her story, grew up in a small town in Canada. She shared with the class this week her first experience in learning the gospel. She grew up with good Christian parents, attending a Protestant church. When she was a little girl she experienced frightening nightmares—even daymares—about death. She envisioned herself in a dark place in the ground with no way out. So horrible was the dream that it would not leave her. She was desperate to know what would happen to her after she died.
She turned to her mother for answers. “What happens after we die, Mama?” Her mother said, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.” Her mother went to their minster and asked him the question. He said, “I don’t know.” Determined to find out she went to every minister in their little town and asked each one, “What happens after we die?” Every one of them told her, “I don’t know.”
Soon after finding no answers from the ministers, her mother was looking out the window of their home, which was at the edge of town at the end of a long road, theirs being the last house on that particular road. Her mother saw two men walking toward their house. As she saw them a voice came into her mind that said, “Whatever these men tell you will be true.”
They knocked on the door and told her they were missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She immediately said, “Can you tell us what happens after we die?” They said, “Yes, we can.” She invited them in, called little Colleen down from her room and said, “These men are going to tell you what happens after we die.” They then taught this mother and daughter the Plan of Salvation—the Lord’s plan of happiness, as it is clearly taught by Alma in the Book of Mormon. Alma taught that the spirits of all men are “taken home to that God who gave them life” (Alma 40:11).
The missionaries then left the home. Colleen said, “It brought me such peace I was never troubled over it again.” They never saw these missionaries again, and wondered how it was they came. There was not an LDS Church within a hundred miles. But they had laid a foundation of faith that Colleen and her mother never forgot. A few years later her father was transferred to a new job with the government in the much larger city of Edmonton. He worked side-by-side with N. Eldon Tanner (later a member of the First Presidency) and learned more about the Church from this great man. The whole family was eventually baptized.
3. What happens to those who feel lonely and weak?
My husband, Gary, had an experience with the Book of Mormon that he will never forget. Here’s his story in his words.
I was working in a job I’d had for nearly a year. A new company had hired me to be their only traveling salesman. I was gone from home three weeks out of four, every month. It was more than difficult being away from my family for so long, but I desperately needed this job to keep food on the table and a roof overhead. It was doubly hard because I was unable to serve a calling in the Church.
Week after week, month after month, I found myself flying from one city to another, spending lonely nights in faraway hotels. I was alone and discouraged. One night I felt particularly sad when I called home and found our foster son crying almost uncontrollably. His dearest uncle had died. I yearned to be there to comfort him and it broke my heart. I needed to be home for so many reasons.
Late one night when I was home a friend of the family called and asked me to come quickly and administer to her husband. The faithful man held a leadership position in his stake. He had suffered from terrible anxiety attacks and needed help desperately on this particular night. The blessing helped and he calmed down. We sat and talked for awhile. During the conversation he said, “Why do I struggle with this?” I didn’t have an answer, just comforted him the best I knew how and prayed for him.
A few days later I left on another three-week-trip to the southern part of the U.S. It was during this time that I decided that no matter what time I went to bed I would read the Book of Mormon. One night on that trip I was feeling extremely lonely. At about 1:30am, when the TV screen turned to snow, I began reading the 12th chapter of Ether. At the 6th verse, where Moroni talks about faith, I read: “And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.”
I realized that I was finding answers to my friend’s question and to my own. It was an awakening for me. I was captivated and kept reading. In verse 25 and 26 Moroni spoke of his weakness in writing and feared that people would stumble because of the placement of his words. He said, “and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.” The Lord said, “Fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness.”
Then came the power punch: “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for it they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).
If anyone felt weak, it was me. That night I told the Lord of my feelings of weakness and sadness at not being able to be home with my family and serving in the Church. Within a few weeks, when I was home again for one measly week, I received a call from our stake president, asking me to meet him at his office. When I got there my bishop was with him. The president said, “Your bishop wants you to be called to the bishopric to serve as a counselor to him.” I was stunned. The bishop knew my traveling schedule. How could this be?
I explained to the president that I was gone three weeks out of every month. He said, “I know. We still want to call you.”
I then asked him, “Should I quit my job?” He said, “Yes.” Gulp!
Jobs were scarce at the time and I had no idea where another job would come from. If this was a trial of my faith I decided I better accept it. After counseling with my wife, I quit my job. My employer said, “If you quit, our business will fail.” I assured him I would find a replacement — someone who would be as good or better. And I did.
Then I began my search for a new job. Soon one opened up and I was able to be at home with my family and serve in my new calling. No questions about it, I had been rescued by counsel found in the Book of Mormon.
4. Does being “born of goodly parents” matter?
I asked my cousin, Janice Kapp Perry, to share with me a time when the Book of Mormon saved her. Here’s her story in her words.
One day when I was twelve years old I went to my room on a Sunday afternoon determined to pray for my own testimony of the Book of Mormon and to read at least 50 pages that day. I knelt and prayed and then began to read: “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents . . .” at which point I was struck forcefully with the thought that I had also been born of goodly parents who loved me. I determined right there and then (and even wrote it down) that I would be like Nephi and always obey their counsel because I knew they loved me and wanted the best for me.
It was easy when I was young but got a bit more difficult through my teen years. I wasn’t allowed to go steady, I wasn’t allowed to go bowling (because the bowling alley was located in the back of a tavern), and I wasn’t allowed to play with my dance band on Saturday nights because Dad knew the dance would go into the Sabbath and there would be a rougher crowd there than when we played for school events. I balked slightly a few times but came to know that obeying made me happy.
Later I received some life-changing counsel from my father that was difficult for me to accept. After high school I left home to live with my grandparents in Ogden and work for the summer as a secretary. I met, dated, and became engaged to a co-worker and we went home to meet my parents.
While Dad was irrigating out in the field and praying for a confirmation that this marriage was right, he received an undeniable revelation from the spirit that it was not right for me to marry the man to whom I was engaged. Dad met with us together that night and asked if I would return the engagement ring and use my scholarship to BYU to study music as I had planned. He asked me point blank if I would follow his counsel.
The tears came as I asked if he was sure this came from the the Spirit. He answered “yes”. Suddenly my mind went back in my room that Sunday so long ago reading the first sentence from the Book of Mormon and committing to obey my parents’ counsel as Nephi had. I answered yes, that I would break my engagement. My fiance bristled and spoke to my father in a tone I did not appreciate.
It was a difficult thing for Dad to ask of me and an even more difficult thing for me to accept, but the trust that had grown between us through the years prevailed and I knew I must follow his counsel. His wisdom later proved to be inspired. Two years later, after two exhilarating years of music study at BYU, I married Douglas Colton Perry, a returned missionary who was in most of my music classes. He has loved me and helped me reach my potential in all aspects of my life during the last fifty-one years of our marriage. My father’s counsel changed the direction of my life for the better.
The Book of Mormon literally rescued me with that one statement “Being born of goodly parents” and deciding at the moment I first read it to always obey mine.
5. What about our afflictions?
Speaking of being born of goodly parents, my nephew Monty Saunders sent me an interesting take on this verse from the Book of Mormon. First, a little background on Monty. We recently set up a GoFundMe account for Monty because of the expenses he and his wife are facing now as he ventures forth in a new treatment for his cancer, which has returned for the fourth time. For details, please see the brief write-up about him on the GoFundMe site.
In the meantime, here’s a summary. His two-year journey since being diagnosed with cancer has been a living nightmare for him. After surgeries and radiation, all has failed. According to doctors at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, he has only one option left: an experimental trial treatment that he may be a candidate for. As it turned out he qualified, but the treatments were in Spokane, Washington, over 300 miles from his home, and would be administered through IV every three weeks for two years. Though the treatments were paid for, he had to come up with money for travel and his lost wages. We knew at that point that we had to set up this fund.
I will now cut to the point of how this Book of Mormon verse helped him. A couple of weeks ago, before I knew the subject of this article, he wrote this message to us. (He has given permission to share it here.)
“I am constantly amazed at this whole cancer experience. It seems as bad as it has been, there have always been good things happening also. As I reflect back on the last 2 years, I find myself thinking of all the good experiences I’ve had and things I’ve learned about how Heavenly Father cares for us so much. At one point, in one of my many “melt downs”, as I was praying for relief, it’s as if the Lord himself was by my side saying, “I’m sorry that you have to be going through this, but it’s the least painful and easiest path for you to learn what I need you to know.” And as I reflect back, I can’t imagine learning and experiencing the things I have by any other means.
“In another one of my “melt downs”, as I was praying, the spirit told me to read the first verse in the Book of Mormon. We all know how it starts, “I Nephi being born of goodly parents…”. At first I put it off because I couldn’t see the relevance of that scripture. I continued to get the prompting so I finally read it. To my surprise, there was very relevant information in the rest of that verse…”having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord…”. This was a confirming message to my soul that the Lord is well aware of me and knows my anguish.
“Thanks so much for doing the GoFundMe. We’ve received much more than money from this as many people have expressed their love, concern and compassion.”
Once again, a beloved child of God in pain is being rescued and reassured by the Book of Mormon.
President Ezra Taft Benson reminded us that, “The Book of Mormon was written for us today. God is the author of the book. It is a record of a fallen people, compiled by inspired men for our blessing today. Those people never had the book—it was meant for us. Mormon, the ancient prophet after whom the book is named, abridged centuries of records. God, who knows the end from the beginning, told him what to include in his abridgment that we would need for our day” (“The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God,” Ensign, May 1975, 63).
What a blessing the work of Mormon is to us! Thanks to that great prophet, we have the doctrines of Christ that teach us to understand and enjoy the blessing of the Atonement and our purpose in life. These are the saving principles that rescue us daily and open the way to eternal life with our Father in Heaven and Our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Has the Book of Mormon rescued you? Take this time to think about the ways it has reached out and saved you. Share them in the comments, if you feel so inclined.
[To learn more about Gary and Joy Lundberg and their books, visit their website at https://www.garyjoylundberg.com/]