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About a year ago I found a list of books on Facebook. There were 100 books in the list and it had some attention catching phrase like “The BBC thinks you’ll only have read 4 of these books”. I consider myself fairly well read, or at least someone who loves to read, so I decided to go through the list and see how I compared. I had out-read whatever their low-ball estimate was, and there were quite a few books on the list that I had no desire to read. However, there was one book that I felt ashamed that I couldn’t quite check off – The Bible. I’ve read *from* the Bible my entire life. I’ve attended Sunday School since I was 3, all 4 years of seminary, taken institute and religion classes at BYU – you would think I’d be able to check that book off without a problem. However, although I’ve read the New Testament front-to-back over and over and read a lot of things from the Old Testament, I’ve never actually read the Old Testament cover-to-cover. I didn’t feel good about checking off the book without having actually read every individual page of the Old Testament. So I challenged myself to read the Old Testament. I decided to read along with the CES Institute manual to help me really get something out of it but my main goal was just to start at Genesis and end with Malachi.
Well after reading the Old Testament for over a year I’ve finally made it through… Deuteronomy. As I finished that section of the Old Testament I felt like I’d reached a milestone -after all, those first 5 books of Moses are the Torah right? So completing that much should count for something! As I looked at my reading chart, and my Bible with the intention of moving on to plow through Joshua I felt exhausted. Now, it’s not like I’ve been pushing through the Old Testament at a rapid pace – in over a year I barely made it through the first 5 books – But as I considered moving on the idea was just wearying.
That’s the best way I can describe it, the Old Testament is wearying to get through. It’s written for a different time and in a language and style that isn’t exactly native for me. The culture surrounding all the stories and events is foreign to me. The Law of Moses has many correlations to the laws of the gospel that we live today, but they aren’t always clearly stated and all the symbolism just takes a lot to muddle through. It’s interesting, I’m always fascinated to see how different peoples think and process the world around them. It’s so interesting to think of the gospel as it was practiced back then and think of what the differences are to today’s world and why they did things one way, we do them another, but we’re all working to achieve the same ends. But it still takes a lot of work to get from point A to point B.
So I decided tonight that I was going to go back to reading the Book of Mormon. Our stake leaders recently challenged the members in our stake to read the Book of Mormon again. I had ignored the challenge for the time being because I really wanted to make it through the Old Testament. I felt that was a worthy goal and since I’m in the Primary and can’t attend Sunday School (where I think the current curriculum is the Book of Mormon this year) I didn’t feel bad about postponing. However, as I opened up my scriptures (ok, really just pulled them up on my phone) and just started reading the title page of the Book of Mormon I felt – peaceful. Like I was home again. I can’t exactly describe the feeling that came over me but it just felt so right to be back in this particular book of scripture.
I once had a friend pick up a copy of the Book of Mormon that we had in our car and she started to read it a little bit. She made the comment that it was so easy to read, and that’s how I felt. Just natural and easy, peaceful and good. I wish I had adequate words to describe the feeling, but really the feeling was “this is true.” I already knew that, I’ve known that the Book of Mormon was true for many years, based not so much on any one particular experience but many different confirmations of its truthfulness through the years. As I try and live its precepts I can feel the power that is given from so doing. I’ve taken Alma’s challenge to try an experiment upon the words, and the experiment works! As I live the gospel, I am happy, I know that the things I am doing are right and I feel at peace. When I act contrary to these teachings I can feel that state of happiness and peace taken away from me. The gospel makes everything in my life make sense and taking the gospel out makes it so nothing makes sense. But the feeling at this moment was powerful – peaceful and quiet, but powerful. I’ll make it back to the Old Testament and make my way through the rest of it, but I’m so glad to be back in the Book of Mormon again.
I just want to share my testimony that I know that the Book of Mormon is true. That, as the Prophet Joseph Smith declared,” the Book of Mormon [is] the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man [or woman will] get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” There is no way a boy of as little education as Joseph Smith had could have come up with this book of his own accord. The truths it teaches are not of man, but of God. I testify this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
If you haven’t read the Book of Mormon I would encourage you to do so. You can get a free copy by going to Mormon.org, and either get a physical copy from the local missionaries, or you can listen to it or read it online from that site as well. I promise it will change your life for the better.