20902_000_003I always thought the Book of Mormon was too difficult to read—until I accepted my leaders’ challenge.
Some years ago while our family lived in Europe, the branch Relief Society presidency challenged the sisters to read the Book of Mormon in three months. Each sister received a laminated bookmark with reading assignments and completion dates printed on it. A special luncheon would be held for those who completed this goal.
With this challenge I realized the time had finally come for me to read the Book of Mormon all the way through, something I had always intended but never done. The goal had always seemed too difficult—out of my reach. Yet over the years as my faith in Heavenly Father had grown, my abilities too had increased. I recalled 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” (1 Ne. 3:7). I no longer felt this goal was unrealistic.
I began reading and placed the bookmark at the end of each chapter I completed. I was surprised at times to find myself more than two weeks ahead of schedule. I became so involved in the Book of Mormon that I sometimes found it difficult to turn to the more mundane tasks of daily living.
As I read, I felt the joys and sorrows of the Book of Mormon people. I read of human weakness at its worst and of countless times when the people grew prideful and selfish and turned away from the Lord even after He had delivered them from their enemies and prospered them in the land. I read of human faith and courage at its best, of those who sacrificed lifetimes of money and power to preach the gospel, and of those who had such faith in the Lord that they valiantly fought battles against impossible odds, knowing He would preserve their lives. I read of the unbounding mercy that the Lord extends to all His people, forgiving their sins as often as they would humble themselves and repent, reaching out to lift them from their sorrows if only they would believe in Him and live His word. And I knew these were true principles, for He had lifted me.
Reading quietly one afternoon, I experienced a spiritual outpouring so profound that it startled me. I felt overwhelmed and unequal to such abundant spiritual communication, and I stopped reading for a few days. In awe, I realized that knowledge really can come to those who diligently seek to know truth by the power of the Holy Ghost.
I also came to know myself better. I found answers to personal questions. I became aware of my strengths and weaknesses, my seeming inability to sacrifice worldly things in pursuit of the spiritual, and my lack of understanding of the spiritual nature of our temporal existence. I was reminded of my own mortality and of my daily need for repentance and forgiveness.
Finally I arrived at the last chapter of the book of Moroni and read the life-changing promise contained in verses 3–5, which taught me I could know the truth of all the things I had read. As I applied that promise, I knew as never before that the Book of Mormon was a witness of Jesus Christ.
I had done it. I had fulfilled my goal—the one I never thought I’d be strong enough, committed enough, or faithful enough to reach. Today my faith, my testimony, and my ability to endure trials have grown as I have responded to the Lord’s gentle guidance that comes through studying the Book of Mormon.