I finished the Book of Mormon just in time for the start of the new year. For those of you keeping track at home, this was my first time reading through to the end without a class. No teachers pushing me through with a reading assignment, I wasn't responsible for only half of the book, and there was no final looming in the distance--not one on paper anyway.
I've come to realize that reading the Book of Mormon every day is something I must do if I want to have a strong and healthy testimony of the Church. It provides a peace of mind and a quietness of spirit that hours of reading other scriptures does not always bring. Because of that, I've decided that I'm only going to make one New Year's resolution this year. I want to read at least two chapters in the Book of Mormon every day, one in the morning and one before I go to sleep in the evening. I find that when I start and end my days this way, everything else in my day is easier to see with an eye of faith. My problems do not look so overwhelming, my joy and happiness is aligned with the will of Father in Heaven, and my desires are not for my own happiness, but for the safety and happiness of others. And as the chapters pass slowly but surely onward, I've noticed many things.
It's easier for me to read through the chapters and sections that are difficult for me to read. While many among the Church like to avoid 2 Nephi because of the Isaiah chapters, I tend to fall off right in the middle--the war-torn,yet somehow still trencherous war chapters of Alma. As much as I love the Book of Mormon, those chapters always prove to be difficult for me. But by making a simple daily commitment to hemming my days with two chapters, those difficult chapters pass quickly, making it less likely that I'll become discouraged.
I've also recently noticed--and I feel a little foolish for being slow on the uptake--that the chapters I've been reading have been pleasantly parallel to the events in my life and the questions of my heart. the guidance I've received is almost too precious to share publicly, but perhaps one example of what I mean.
I'm in the Ancient Near Eastern Studies major at BYU, which requires me to buy expensive history textbooks. I have close to $300 in books I have to buy this semester, and I found it easy to complain against the hardness of my lot. Someone wiser than me pointed out that I had not yet read my scriptures for that day, and when I sat down to read my morning's chapter, I was in 1 Nephi 4--where Nephi, Laman, and Lemuel are required to endure great hardship to obtain the records of the Jews, their ancestors, before they journey to their promised land.
Remembering that familiar story, I realized that the history textbooks I will be using this semester are going to expound those same records unto me. I've been given a great opportunity to be in this major, to be taking these classes, to be on this timetable for the Lord. I enjoy my studies and it profits me nothing to complain about expenses, especially when the Lord has been providing ways and avenues for me to pay for so many things. All He asks is that I live well, give all praise and glory unto Him, to be obedient to His will, and to be grateful to Him in every moment. As long as I do these things, the way will be provided--even (and especially) in hardship.
I know that God lives, that we are His children, and that He speaks to us on the earth today through the mouths of prophets, both living and dead. The Book of Mormon is the Word of God, and we are blessed to have it with us on the earth today. Its truths are plain, its way is straight, and like Nephi I glory in the plainness of its truths unto the children of men in this, the last dispensation. In the holy name of Jesus Christ, AMEN.