By the Hand of Mormon; By the Hand of Toni

I, Moroni by Walter Rane

New year, time to start a new reading of the Book of Mormon. Our Bishop has invited us to participate in a 100-day reading program, and encouraged us to approach the task as Clayton Christiansen did while he was at Oxford in 1975. His story was recounted by president Thomas Monson in November 2011 at a BYU address. (See full article HERE.) Christiansen had read the Bookof Mormon 7 times, but had never received a definite answer as to its truthfulness; he decided it was time to know. Despite his busy schedule, he set aside an hour each night to read and study the Book of Mormon.

[H]e began at 11 p.m. by kneeling in prayer by the chair by his little heater, and he prayed out loud. He told God how desperate he was to find out if this was a true book, and he told Him that if He would reveal to him that it was true, then he intended to dedicate his life to building this kingdom. And he told God that if it wasn’t true he needed to know that for certain, too, because then he would dedicate his life to finding out what was true.

Then Brother Christensen would sit in the chair and read. He began by reading the first page of the Book of Mormon, and when he got down to the bottom of the page, he stopped, and he thought about what he had read on that page, and he asked himself, “Could this have been written by a charlatan who was trying to deceive people, or was this really written by a prophet of God? And what did it mean for Clayton Christensen in his life? And then he put the book down and knelt in prayer and verbally asked God again, “Please tell me if this is a true book.” Then he would sit in the chair and pick up the book and turn the page and read another page, pause at the bottom, and do the same thing. He did this for an hour every night — night after night — in that cold, damp room at the Queen’s College in Oxford.

By the time Brother Christensen got to the chapters at the end of 2nd Nephi, one evening when he said his prayer and sat in his chair and opened the book, all of a sudden there came into that room a beautiful, warm, loving spirit that just surrounded him and permeated his soul, and enveloped him in a feeling of love that he had not imagined he could feel. He began to cry, and he didn’t want to stop crying because as he looked through his tears at the words in the Book of Mormon, he could see truth in those words that he never imagined he could comprehend before. He could see the glories of eternity and what God had in store for him as one of His sons. Brother Christensen said he didn’t want to stop crying. That spirit stayed with him for the whole hour, and then every evening as he prayed and sat with the Book of Mormon by the little heater in his room, that same spirit returned, and it changed his heart and his life forever.

So I decided that I would follow Christiansen’s example. I would pray before and after each reading session to know what the Lord wanted me to learn from my reading.

As I proceeded to read the Book of Mormon, my first answer came at quickly:

“And now I, Nephi, do not make a full account of the things which my father hath written, for he hath written many things which he saw in visions and in dreams; and he also hath written many things which he prophesied and spake unto his children, of which I shall not make a full account.” –1 Nephi 1:16

I know that I need to write down things that I have seen in visions and in dreams, and things which I have (or should) speak unto my children. And so i will make a start here. It may be a very daunting task; I love the Book of Mormon and have had much inspiration concerning it. It would certainly take longer than 100 days to write it all. But, as Nephi, “i shall not make a full account.”

Mormon’s Book

Through the years as I have read and reread the Book of Mormon, I have come to appreciate the fact that it is Mormon’s Book.

As the redactor of the Nephite records, Mormon is reticent about himself: although he gives detailed accounts of the strategies and battles of Moroni, he is fairly silent on his own extensive battles, as he did “not desire to harrow up the souls of men in casting before them such an awful scene of blood and carnage as was laid before mine eyes” (Mormon 5:8).

We know that he had a son–Moroni, of course–but know nothing of his wife or any of his other children. Still we can get to know Mormon by reading between the lines and by reading his commentary that is so often precluded by “Thus we see.”

We know that Mormon was forbidden to preach to his people at one point, then was completely unsuccessful when he was granted permission. This must have been a terrific burden, spending his life trying to effect the Nephite’s temporal salvation, helpless to effect a spiritual salvation. And so we hear him praise the waters of Mormon:

“yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever” (Mosiah 18:30).

But for Mormon, there would be no such waters for him to lead his people to.

Mormon must have known the prophecy Alma instructed Helaman to write:

“Behold, I perceive that this very people, the Nephites, … in four hundred years from the time that Jesus Christ shall manifest himself unto them, shall dwindle in unbelief. Yea, and then shall they see wars and pestilences, yea, famines and bloodshed, even until the people of Nephi shall become extinct…all, save it be a few who shall be called the disciples of the Lord; and them shall the Lamanites pursue even until they shall become extinct.”

Mormon must have known that he would not save them, temporally or spiritually, that all would be lost (Alma 45:10,11,14).

And so he turned his hopes and efforts to the future:

“I did stand as an idle witness to manifest unto the world the things which I saw and heard, according to the manifestations of the Spirit which had testified of things to come. Therefore I write unto you, Gentiles, and also unto you, house of Israel, when the work shall commence, that ye shall be about to prepare to return to the land of your inheritance;Yea, behold, I write unto all the ends of the earth; yea, unto you, twelve tribes of Israel, who shall be judged according to your works by the twelve whom Jesus chose to be his disciples in the land of Jerusalem. And I write also unto the remnant of this people…. And these things doth the Spirit manifest unto me; therefore I write unto you all” (Mormon 3:16-19).

It is the Book of Mormon. The solemn witness of a man who, having done all that he could for his people in his day, turned his hopes and his faith toward our generations, to lead us to the waters of Mormon.