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.”

Obedience and Faith

“If we desire more faith, we must be more obedient…. Desire, hope, and belief are forms of faith, but faith as a principle of power comes from a consistent pattern of obedient behavior and attitudes” (Kevin W. Pearson, “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Ensign, May 2009, 38–40).

Reading the scriptures, prayer, bearing testimony–these are methods of increasing faith that I’ve heard recommended. But this is a first. I have ever supposed that increased faith would answer in increased obedience, not vice versa.

But there is such wisdom and clarity–and possibility–in Elder Pearson’s words: faith comes from obedience. Faith is one of those elusive qualities that are difficult to snare and even more difficult to ascertain that you’ve acquired it, but obedience sits right there in front of you, attended to or ignored. It’s hard to push in the direction of faith, but being more obedient, more consistent in attitude and practices, more responsive to personal impressions and direction from leaders is discernible, finite, and quantifiable.

I want to have greater faith. I want to move mountains and cure ailments. I want to be stalwart, not wimpy, and bold, not tepid in my witness and habits of faith. And most certainly, I want to know mysteries.

“But unto him that keepeth my commandments I will give the mysteries of my kingdom, and the same shall be in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life” (D&C 63:23). And, remember, when Nephi saw his father’s vision of the Tree of Life, he saw the rod of iron and understood it to be “the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life” (1 Nephi 11:25).

Tree of Life/Living Waters/Mysteries of the Kingdom/Love of God–it seems these are interchangeable and can be obtained by grasping the word of God and following where it leads. Obedience, in a word.

Worth getting out of bed a bit early to leave time for scripture study and prayer?

Worth magnifying a calling or giving up a Sabbath for?

I think so.