Asking someone to read a 532 page small print book in the day of digital media is a tall order. We’ve become so accustomed to 140 characters, entertaining short videos, and animated GIF’s that sitting down to study and ponder a complex book seems like torture.
Back in the day, people got as excited about a new book as they did about finding a wifi hotspot to check their Instagram feed. About a couple hundred years ago, a guy by the name of Parley Pratt was given a copy of the Book of Mormon. He said “I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep.” I wonder if Parley knew he was going to be describing every teenager with a cell phone in the 21st century?
Very few people truly know what is buried on those pages within the Book of Mormon. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I had not taken the time to read those pages in between surf sessions as a 21 year old punk. I can’t imagine all of the things I would have missed.
The very first verse in that book opens up by talking about the importance of good parenting. Go figure. As if that’s not needed in our day more than ever. That verse wasn’t even supposed to be there, and yet through a series of events, it landed as the first verse of the entire book.
As I read further, I learned of this guy named Nephi who was completely obedient to his parents. He honored them and supported them. But we live in a day where kids rule over parents and disrespect adults.
Just the other day, I had to act as security for a swim meet to protect an area from kids entering into it. As one kid tried to enter the area, I nicely let him know that this area was closed. He ignored me at first and then got in my face and said, “don’t ever talk smack to me again.” This 11 year old kid might be completely different having learned from Nephi instead of his favorite pop star or TV show. I hope he reads the Book of Mormon someday.
Personally, I learned from Nephi that I need to hold on to the scriptures and keep them close. That doing so will lead me through thick fog and loud voices to the tree which is Christ, and that once I’ve partaken of the fruit of Christ’s love, that I should never drop that fruit.
I learned that “the guilty taketh the truth be hard” and that “by small means, the Lord can bring about great things.” I learned that God doesn’t remove trials from my life but that if I keep the commandments, He’ll “nourish me, and strengthen me, and provide means whereby I can accomplish the things I’m supposed to accomplish.”
I learned that this great land was chosen to be a land of freedom and that the only thing that can bring that freedom down is the overwhelming voice of the majority choosing wickedness instead of righteousness.
I learned that there is most definitely opposition in all things but that each of us are ultimately here on this earth to experience “joy.”
I learned that through our agency, we choose liberty or captivity being free to act for ourselves. These choices are what make us happy or miserable.
I learned that Jesus not only atoned for my sins, but that he took upon himself every mental, emotional, and physical issue I’ve ever experienced.
I learned that it’s good to be “learned” and smart and approach things intellectually…but only while I am also keeping the commandments of God.
I learned from Nephi’s little brother Jacob to never let “treasure” become my God. That if I’m going to seek after riches in this life…that I should seek them with the intent to do good for others. What good is an accumulation of wealth if it’s not to bless others through that abundance? To not bless others through our abundance is to do the exact opposite of what God does for each of us by blessing us with his abundance.
I learned that about a thousand years of tedious and laborious etching in metal plates had one underlying motivation; “that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”
I learned that there would be priestcraft established for the purpose of getting gain through the means of customizing Christ to fit the lifestyles of the day.
I learned that the only way I’ll ever really be able to get to know Christ and speak with the tongues of angels is to “feast upon” His words. I learned that when I don’t feel like praying…that this is a time when I should pray more, “and not faint.”
I learned that there is no way in my mind that Joseph Smith comes up with the 77 long verses of complex allegorical olive tree horticulture out of thin air.
I learned from a King named Benjamin that good leaders are always serving others first. That by serving others, we are actually serving God.
I learned from Abinadi that it’s not all that easy to be a disciple of Christ. A guy that was a little caught up in the world named Alma learned that same lesson from Abinadi and it changed his life. I learned from Alma’s son years later that even if you haven’t been that great of a person in the past, that the power of Christ is able to change your nature and that it’s never too late to come back. That even bad dudes can become giants in the kingdom.
I learned that once you’ve had the gospel change your heart, you immediately have a desire is to reach out and share that knowledge with others…even your enemies.
I learned from a few repentant soldiers, (friends of Ammon) and a bunch of faithful mothers that through the keeping of their covenants, 2,000 of the most righteous youth this world has ever seen were able to confidently fight the battles of the future.
I learned from a guy named Shiblon that it doesn’t matter where you serve, but how you serve. That there are “Shiblons” everywhere who are “low maintenance – high yield members of the church.” Shiblon taught me that you can lead from anywhere and that stability, reliability, and consistency are some of God’s most important attributes.
I learned from the actions of a spiritually immature boy named Corianton that “wickedness never was happiness” and that your actions, good or bad, could affect generations to come.
I learned from a great captain named Moroni that we should always be prepared. That we should recognize and fortify our “places of weakness” because that’s where the enemy will strike.
I learned that Christ came to this continent once…and that He’s on His way back, and that I should be humble as I anticipate His return. If I’m humble, I’m promised that weak things will become strong for me.
I learned in this book that these prophets “saw our day” and now having read it…know that they must have been telling the truth.
At the end of this book, I learned that in a world of chaos, I can pray to ask God for answers to the questions of my soul.
But one of the things I learned most of all is that “our lives passed away as it were unto us a dream.” I cannot believe how fast my life has gone by. I was a child…and now I’m old. The time goes by and you hope you’ve been good for something in this world as did the people who wrote in this book.
These are some of the things I would have missed if I hadn’t given the Book of Mormon a fair shake. I haven’t even scratched the surface of what I’ve really learned from this book. I’ve read lots of books. But never have I seen one book contain such an endless supply of wisdom as I do in this book.
Regardless of whether or not someone chooses to be a member of the Church that produces the book or not, I hope that every single person on this earth will read it at least one time. It might change your life as it did mine.