As we study the final chapter of the Book of Mormon, I hope each of us will take an opportunity to reflect on the spiritual truths we obtained this year. I have been inspired and uplifted as we have studied together.
Take a moment to consider how your testimony of the Book of Mormon has been strengthened over the course of this year. As you sincerely act on Moroni’s invitation, the Lord will “manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moroni 10:4).
Instead of a typical post, this final week will be a little different. I reached out to members of our class to share how their testimonies of the Book of Mormon have been edified through our study this year. Although these individuals come from distinct backgrounds and possess deeply personal witnesses, I found insightful similarities in their testimonies. To highlight these common truths, I have included excerpts from their testimonies grouped by topic. As always, you are invited to add your testimony to the bottom of the post.
With New Eyes
My testimony of the Book of Mormon has been the foundation of my testimony of the restored gospel and the Savior since my late teens. Studying the Book of Mormon as part of the Come Follow Me program this year has caused me to reminisce, in many ways, about the impact certain passages and truths had on me when I first encountered them. It was spiritually gratifying to re-live those moments and feelings.
My testimony of the Book of Mormon was sure 35 years ago when I asked God to give me a certain witness that this book was truly His word. Though this testimony has been a foundation for me over the years, I am continually amazed at the nurture its pages and words give me as I daily study them coupled with the teachings and testimonies of past and present prophets. In particular, this year I have had truly countless spiritual experiences, answers to my questions, and impressions I have been prompted to pass on to others, which alone is a testimony of the living and special nature of these divine words. I estimate that I have read this book nearly 30 times through and one time backwards to see it from a different perspective. At no time have I read it seriously and come away wanting for more. On the contrary the Spirit has confirmed that everyday is better as I read and ponder this testament.
My wife and I have read through the entire Book of Mormon together, just as we have done together in the past few years with other scriptures. We are both converts to the church, so that initial feeling of reading the Book of Mormon and hearing the missionaries tell us that the feeling that we were getting was the Holy Ghost witnessing to us the truthfulness of the Gospel. For both of us, that feeling has only gotten stronger and expanded with regards to the other mysteries of the Gospel. I can only say that I never had any great epiphany as I always had faith that the doctrine that I read in the Book of Mormon and from the prophets was true, without a doubt.
I read the Book of Mormon and marked in yellow those scriptures that were really enlightening to me. I think that was in 2017 or 2018. I read it again in 2019, and marked in blue all scriptures that teach of Jesus Christ. Those marked verses now really light up my mind and heart as I have studied the Book of Mormon this year, in 2020.
I cannot read Moroni 10:3-5 without remembering 1) the first time I read that passage and promise and took it seriously, and the simple confirmation and recognition of what I had felt for as long as I could remember; and 2) the regular reference to that promise while teaching people on my mission and the transformation that took place as they elected put Moroni’s words to the test. I’m sure this refreshing and reminiscing has strengthened my testimony of the Book of Mormon this year.
Some of the basic Gospel truths from the Book of Mormon, I have proven in my own life. For example:
1) Alma teaches that if we give place for the word of God in our hearts, and care for it and nurture it like a young plant or tree, then the word of God will grow and become delicious to us, and that it will bear fruit in our lives. have seen this occur when paying tithing, when ministering, and when working in my callings. If I give place, take care, and nurture the promptings and guidance I receive, then I am able to grow and to feel a deep connection with the spiritual principle I am living, or the people I am serving.
2) Nephi and others in the Book of Mormon teach that we are held accountable for the light and knowledge that we have been given. They teach that we must continue to focus on it, and repent and improve. As believers, it is up to us to keep our hearts softened and our spiritual ears tuned to hear the voice of the Holy Ghost.
The stories in the Book of Mormon are so relatable and the most comforting thing to me is that our Savior is always willing to come to us and meet us in our own story. Just like He did with Nephi, Ammon, Alma, the brother of Jared, and all of the others who are in the Book of Mormon. He will meet me where I am, in my mess and in my joy. He cares and that is my testimony.
All my questions that I had about the gospel were answered including many additional insights that the Book of Mormon offered in 2nd Nephi, Mosiah, and the Book of Alma.
After each reading of Alma (particularly Alma’s commandments to his three sons) and 2 Nephi 9 and King Benjamin’s discourse to his people pertaining to the Doctrine of Christ, I always marvel at the clarity of the Gospel.
On 2020’s Unique Challenges
I believe there have been ways my testimony has been strengthened that are unique to this year. For example, I was affected like never before as I read Mormon and Moroni’s accounts of the self-destruction of two great civilizations: the Jaredites and the last Nephites.
Perhaps it was because I myself was feeling an unprecedented sense of global and national vulnerability and insecurity, but I had a new appreciation for how depressing it must have been for them to know, as well as they did from having compiled the record, how happy and prosperous the people could be when they were righteous, how unhappy and destructive they were when they were wicked, and to witness history repeating itself in such horrible ways.
And yet, as desperate as the times and circumstances were, Mormon and Moroni did not despair. They maintained such hope for a better world and such faith in Christ and the Plan of Salvation. While I don’t believe our current circumstances are anywhere near as bad as those of the Jaredites or the people of Mormon and Moroni, the faith, hope, and forward thinking they demonstrated—in spite of their circumstances–has been profoundly reassuring to me this year.
This last month reading from Ether and then Mormon and Moroni, made me realize that these books were mirroring the times and turbulence of our modern day. After reading so many times about Justice and Mercy in the BoM, I know that the Savior will have mercy on the faithful and this time in mortality will seem like just a brief blip on our personal time-line.
And, of course, even this week as we finished the Book, it dawned upon me how often the prophets told the people about the Lord Jesus Christ and his doctrine and atoning sacrifice. Time after time, they warned the people to repent or else destruction would befall them. The repeated theme of the circle of prosperity to tragedy (and then repentance) in the BoM is so familiar to our personal lives and to the nations of the world.
Studying the Book of Mormon has helped me stay strong during severe challenges in my life. It has literally helped me calm down, rest when needed, and get up and carry on.
Each time I read I feel I find at least one morsel of knowledge that I can ponder and add to my personal learning and development process. Of recent, I learned about doing things grudgingly. Of what value is it for me to pass through trials with a grudging heart. I am still destined to endure them, but with the wrong attitude it “profiteth [me] nothing, for God receiveth none such,” and it is “counted for naught.”
I think the thing that I have learned most about my testimony of the Book of Mormon this year is that it is truly written for our day. It is amazing how over the course of the year, something new would happen globally, locally, or personally which would address the challenge at hand. At one point, I was going through my own “wilderness” and then the story of the Lehi and Nephi and their family arriving to the promised land gave me hope that I would also arrive at the promised land.
Jared and his family hopped in their boats and almost a year later were able to reunite with their families once they arrived at the promised land. They didn’t know how long it would take them to get to the promised land when they climbed into their barges. We don’t know how long we will be separated from our loved ones, but we do have hope we will be reunited one day.