Seth’s Family Scripture Study


(Based on experiences from the author’s family)
For I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning (1 Ne. 19:23).

Seth was confused when Mom and Dad announced that they were going to read the Book of Mormon as a family. He was only four, and his brother Caleb was two. They were too little to read. So how could they read as a family?

After Seth and Caleb climbed into bed that night in early autumn, Mom and Dad sat by the bedroom door with their scriptures open.

“This is just how my mom read the Book of Mormon to me when I was little,” Mom said. “There are no pictures for you to look at in this book. But you can imagine the pictures in your minds.”

Seth’s parents took turns reading. Sometimes they stopped to explain things. They read from the Book of Mormon every night. Some nights, Seth fell asleep before they finished reading. Caleb almost always did.

“That’s OK,” Dad said. “Just listen as long as you can, and enjoy the peaceful feeling.”

Seth did feel peaceful listening to the Book of Mormon, most nights. Other times, he didn’t feel like listening. Sometimes he interrupted with stories about preschool, or ideas he had for Halloween or Christmas or his birthday in February.

“Seth,” Dad said, “you can ask questions, but they have to be about the Book of Mormon.”

Seth wanted to talk. He didn’t want Mom and Dad to do all the talking. So he started to listen and tried to think of questions to ask. He started to imagine the pictures in his mind—Nephi building a boat, Lehi blessing his sons. Soon, he realized there really were things he wanted to know.

“Who is Satan?” he asked one night.

Mom and Dad closed their scriptures and explained how Satan was a son of Heavenly Father who would not obey. He was so angry at Heavenly Father he couldn’t live with Him anymore. Then he was so mad that he wanted everybody else to feel miserable like him.

“Satan wants us to make bad choices so that we’ll feel bad inside,” Dad explained. “Sometimes he will try to tempt you to do bad things. But you can tell him no. You can choose the right.” Seth felt strong, knowing that he could tell Satan no and follow Jesus instead.

A few months later, on a rainy winter night, Seth listened to the story of the Lamanites being taught by the great missionary, Ammon. The Lamanites buried their weapons and promised Heavenly Father that they wouldn’t fight anymore. Seth thought about how he sometimes argued with Caleb, who was already asleep in his bed. Suddenly, he had an idea.

“Dad,” he asked, “how can I make a promise to Heavenly Father?”

Dad stopped reading and looked up at Seth. “You can pray to Him and tell Him you want to do better,” he replied. “You can make a promise to Him anytime. And when you are eight, you’ll make a really big promise. That’s when you’ll be baptized, and promise to try to do what’s right for the rest of your life.”

“But I can still promise now?”

“Sure you can.”

One night, after Seth’s fifth birthday, Dad started reading the story of 2,000 young men, the stripling warriors, who decided to fight to defend their parents, the people of Ammon. As Mom began to read, her voice got quiet. When Seth looked over at her, she was crying.

“Why are you crying, Mom?” he asked.

“I started reading about these boys and how good they are, and how Heavenly Father took care of them. And I looked at you listening to the Book of Mormon, and I thought about how much you want to be good and make promises to Heavenly Father.”

“And you got sad?”

“No, I got happy! I think you are like the boys in this story. You are determined to do what is right! You will have hard battles in your life. Remember how Satan wants you to feel bad?” she asked. Seth did remember. “But you will fight against him, and Heavenly Father will take care of you, just like He took care of the boys in this story.”

They read about Jesus visiting the Nephites. Seth was very quiet as Dad read about Christ taking each little child in His arms and blessing him or her. Seth had a picture in his room of Jesus surrounded by little children. He could imagine himself right there, hugging Jesus and feeling His hands on his head blessing him, just like Dad blessed him when he was sick with the flu.

Seth was so quiet that Mom thought he was asleep. “Seth, are you awake?” she whispered.

“Yes. Keep reading,” Seth replied.

Near the end of the summer, Seth’s family had a special family home evening to read the last chapter of the Book of Mormon.

“I first read the Book of Mormon when I was getting ready to go on a mission,” Dad said. “The Holy Ghost told me it was true. But you boys are learning about the Book of Mormon while you are young. You can learn that it is true right now.”

Mom said that since they had been reading as a family, she felt happier in their home. “I’ve noticed Seth and Caleb are more obedient. And I don’t feel like yelling or scolding. I think the Book of Mormon has helped our family.”

Seth remembered the stories he had heard and the pictures he had imagined. He remembered the peace he felt as he went to sleep every night listening to Mom and Dad read. He remembered being able to imagine himself with Jesus. “I feel good about the Book of Mormon,” he said.

[Family Scripture Study]

Elder L. Tom Perry

“Never let a day go by without holding family prayer and family scripture study. … See if it does not bless your home with greater peace, hope, love, and faith.” Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Back to Gospel Basics,” Ensign, May 1993, 92.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Val Chadwick Bagley

Ana Nelson Shaw is a member of the Merced First Ward, Merced California Stake.