By Peter V. Hilton
“We’re going to discuss section 64 tomorrow, so you had better read section 64 tonight!” As always, Sister Dorff was adamant.
Early-morning seminary. To my sophomore mind, the idea was laughable. Between writing, directing, and acting in my own play, trumpet lessons, piano practice, and eight high school classes every day, there was barely time to sleep. But guilt won out over math, and I decided to put scripture study in the 25th hour of my daily allotment of 24.
“Who read their scriptures?” Sister Dorff asked the next morning. She was answered by a smattering of raised hands. “Tell me what you read.”
“Well …” I blinked away the morning bleariness. “It was the word of God, as revealed to Joseph Smith.” Nobody had a better answer; Sister Dorff scowled. More lecture, more please-read-your-scriptures.
It was the same the next morning. “Who read their scriptures?” Again, a couple of hands went up. “Well, our lesson is going to take two days, so congratulations! You have no reading tonight.” Tired cheers went up. “The rest of you need to not ‘procrastinate the day of your repentance.’” Then she added, “Please read your scriptures.”
That night, I didn’t feel quite right about going to bed without my nightly chapter of reading, so I grabbed my Book of Mormon and opened to Mosiah 6, a chapter only seven verses long. I was elated! Rather than staying up past midnight to half-digest hefty chunks of doctrine, I could breeze through this chapter in under a minute.
I thought I’d discovered a great way to go to bed. Every night I read the same short chapter. I was reading my scriptures daily. I was a good Church member, I told myself. The speed-read-flop-and-drop worked wonders for fatigue until one Monday night. I got to bed a couple of hours earlier than normal. That meant I was more awake as Mosiah 6 once again stared back up at me.
“And it came to pass that there was not one soul, except it were little children, but who had entered into the covenant and had taken upon them the name of Christ.
“… That thereby they might hear and know the commandments of God, and to stir them up in remembrance of the oath which they had made” (vv. 2–3).
There it was. The sacramental covenant, its elements recorded in Mosiah.
With a few hours of sleep separating me from the next seminary lesson, I realized that I had renewed that same covenant just the day before. Every Sunday, I took the sacrament and promised to take Christ’s name upon me. I really wanted to—that’s why I got up for seminary—but there was a difference between getting up and waking up. I winced, realizing I wasn’t holding up my end of the covenant. Here I was promising to always remember the Lord and keep His commandments, and instead of meditating, I was vegetating.
I started over. After a prayer, I turned to the beginning of the Book of Mormon. “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father.” The words seemed to be full of meaning. I, Peter, was born of Heavenly Parents and had been taught God’s word, even if it had only begun to sink in. That night, I caught up in my seminary reading all the way to Doctrine and Covenants 84.
“Tell me about what you read.” Sister Dorff’s familiar question greeted us the next morning.
“Mosiah,” I answered, winning a friendly scowl from the teacher. “I mean, I read the assigned Doctrine and Covenants scriptures too, but what I read first last night stuck with me. The Book of Mormon is true!”
Sister Dorff smiled. “What did you read?”
“Well, I started with Mosiah 6, then 1 Nephi, and then I felt the Spirit! It was just like that quote from President Ezra Taft Benson where he says there is a power that will enter our lives the moment we begin a serious study of the Book of Mormon.” I grinned at my classmates. “It was so cool. I felt that power last night.”
From then on, I was glad to tell Sister Dorff about what I had read. I had gained a testimony of scripture study.