Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Book of Mormon: A Love Story --My Sacrament Talk

The Book of Mormon. What can I say that you haven’t already heard someone else say, right?
Pondering and praying this week that I can share what this 522 page book means to me, in a way that you too will want to read it.
I believe that Heavenly Father speaks to me in a way I can understand, just as Nephi says in 2Nephi 31:3 “For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding.”
If there are those of you who are wondering what’s in this meeting for you today, I want to invite you to apply that scripture to yourself right now.
I love this book.  You should know that about me.
What if I told you why I love it? Would it help you to love it too?
In my effort to become a Disciple of Jesus Christ, I have made several covenants—
To follow Him, to keep His commandments, to stand as a witness of Him, to carry His name in my heart at all times and in all places.
I love my covenants. I identify as a covenant maker and keeper.  I belong to Him. He is my truest, dearest Friend.  I want to know and become like Him.
Reading the Book of Mormon helps me to reach that goal.
I have found that attending my meetings, praying often, partaking of the sacrament, attending the temple and keeping my covenants, and even fulfilling all of my callings—doing all of those essential things blesses my life but in reading my scriptures, specifically the Book of Mormon,  I live more abundantly in the warmth of the Spirit. 
Written by believers, This is a book about True Love.  Love for God, love for Jesus Christ, love for the Gospel, love for self and family, for friend and enemies, for country and liberty, for peace and abundance and love for heavenly things.
Written by prophets who, by divine command and direction, recorded their people’s lives as a testament of their faith and obedience and the blessings that were poured out upon them that followed.  And the sad, terrible heartbreaking consequences when the people turned their backs on godly things instead chasing the ever-elusive worldly “happiness”.
If we accept it for what it is—a heavenly guide to return our heavenly home—if we read it with the intention of learning from it, it will change our mortal nature as the hymn “More Holiness Give Me” declares:
“More fit for the kingdom,
More used would I be,
More blessed and holy—
More, Savior, like thee.”

I have found myself at times, overwhelmed by the vicissitudes of life, and searching for direction and answers to prayers.  When I approach the scriptures with those needs, I am never disappointed.
I am comforted, enlightened, and more hopeful.

My favorite scriptures include:

  • 2 Nephi 31:3: God speaks to us in a way we can understand him.
  • 3 Ne 17: here is the account of Jesus Christ’s personal ministry to the people, beginning in Verse 5… 
  • 5 And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.
  • 6 And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.

Can you feel the weight of their gaze upon him and the silent pleas of their hearts? What would you feel if you were there?
I relate to this scripture on a personal level.  In 1987, we had the opportunity for a general authority to bless our special needs child. Later that evening, I was searching the scriptures and came to this one…I too wanted to linger in the moment of spiritual and physical healing.  It is so profoundly the very essence of Godly love.

At a time of great distress in my life, I was unsure of the future.  I had made mistakes and wondered if God knew me and loved me—again I turned to the scriptures and came to Mosiah 4:9:
“Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.”
I can recall the very moment when I came to love King Benjamin. It was reading his declaration right there.  Believe in God. Trust in His power. I can do that.

And of course, Alma 46: 19:
“And when Moroni had said these words, he went forth among the people, waving the rent part of his garment in the air, that all might see the writing which he had written upon the rent part, and crying with a loud voice, saying:

20 Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them.

21 And it came to pass that when Moroni had proclaimed these words, behold, the people came running together with their armor girded about their loins, rending their garments in token, or as a covenant, that they would not forsake the Lord their God…”.
My favorite words from that passage are "the people came running"...if I imagine myself in that crowd, I can easily, hopefully, see my self as one of those that "came running" to make a sacred covenant with the Lord for the blessings of protection for the things I love.

How has reading the Book of Mormon blessed my life?  A feeling of hope and calm rests in my heart.  I sees things more clearly and my ability to keep my covenants is more focused and spiritually lifting.

As it tells the story of Love, I find more love in my life. More love for my Heavenly Father, more love for my Savior, more love for the Gospel, more love and mercy for my Self, more love for my husband and my children, more love for my friends, neighbors and enemies, more love my country and liberty, more love for the prophets and more love for the scriptures.

My invitation to you is to open your heart just as a vessel receives water and read your favorite scriptures today. And you can do like I like to do when a New Year comes, instead of making “resolutions”, decide to learn something new.  Read your scriptures with the intent to learn from them how you can more abundantly feel the love that is in them.

I recently had a chance to chat with another woman about talents--
mainly about the sharing of information about her artistic processes
with others who are just beginning the journey to discover their own talents and abilities.

I've worked with a great many Creatives, as I like to call them--the people who are passionate about
their artistic work--painters, designers, arts and crafts type, midwives, florists and on & on.  I've met them through various ways, basically as I have been forging my own trail of Self-Discovery.

You know which are my favorites?  The ones that share.
They're the ones I remember with gratitude for the moments we walked together on the same path, even for a short time; I smile when I think of them.
They may be miles ahead in terms of advanced skillsets and experience...but they met me where I was on that path and slowed their pace down and generously shared a peek into their creative processes...then our paths diverged and we tossed a smile over our shoulders and kept going.

Following their examples, I try to be a cheerleader for others who are also on their personal paths of Self-Discovery...thinking about an art class I took last spring--we were at the foot of Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs-- a class of around 20 or so, varying in ages and skills and we met there to do some plein air renderings of the Front Range mountains with Pikes Peak right there in the back.

There wasn't any distinct instructions from the Art Professor--she'd already covered the basics in previous classes--so we arrived at the spot, opened our supplies, and started painting the landscape in front of us at our own will and direction.
After an hour, we took a break--something the teacher encouraged--to step back for a moment and look with new eyes at the subject.  During the break, we walked around to see what everyone else was painting.  Not one single student painting looked like mine.  Some were SO obviously above my skillset that day, that I can recall one in particular that just took my breath away because it was just what I would paint if I could paint that good! All of them were interesting and evident of the students abilities.
When I think about that day--we had the same instructor, we had similar tools, the same landscape in front of us--the thing I smile about most is the liberty to express it in our own way was enough.

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