Friday, July 1, 2011
Amid boxes and random unorganized furniture, I sat down tonight with a blanket, ice cream, and popcorn, and I did it--I finished the Book of Mormon! Oh, it felt so good! I have gotten several messages from people today with the same kind of excitement and gratitude for the experience. Thank you to everyone who participated with me. I can tell you that with the events of this month, I never would have finished without such an amazing support group to push me through! I have to apologize for days like today when I didn't get the daily reading posted until...uh, the day was nearly done...and my blogging was often late as well. But even though I wasn't the thorough and prompt leader I had hoped to be, the ultimate goal has been achieved. What a blessing and an accomplishment!
I decided at the beginning of this challenge to use a paperback copy of the Book of Mormon, rather than my personal copy that I've read and marked in for nearly ten years. As a result, I was able to see things freshly, without any previous notes or markings to influence my thoughts. It was wonderful! Reading Moroni tonight was a such a treat!
From these final chapters we learned how to lay hold upon every good thing. It is through faith in Jesus Christ (Moroni 7:22-25). I am learning every day what it means to have "real intent of heart" (Moroni 7:6, 9). I think that is the key--the heart. Throughout this month, I marked each time the scriptures mention something about the state of the heart. Here are just a few:
"...his heart did take courage..." (Alma 62:1)
";yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever." (Alma 37:36)
"...let thy heart be full of thanks unto God;" (Alma 37:37)
"...that a seed may be planted in your heart..." (Alam 32:28)
"..pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with his love..."(Moroni 7:48)
"...that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts..." (Moroni 7:32)
"...ponder it in your hearts..." (Moroni 10:3)
I have learned that hearts can be lowly, they can be stubborn, they can be hard; they can be led and broken and lifted up; they can be possessed by Satan, they can be lustful, they can be prideful; they can be soft, they can be purified, and they can be united as one. Most important, they must be sincere "with real intent, having faith in Christ."(Moroni 10:4)
I feel like I have had many opportunities writing on this blog to bear my testimony. But I realized yesterday, after reading Trisha's post, that I have not formally expressed my sincere love for the Savior and my Father in Heaven.
I know the joy that comes from true repentance. I know Heavenly Father prepares us, often without our knowledge of it, to meet the challenges and trials necessary for our growth and learning. I know that the blessings of the temple are real. I know that the blessings of sweet and simple obedience are real. I know that the atonement is real, and it works. I know that an understanding of the scriptures is vital, not only for our salvation, but for our happiness and our success in this life. I have had the great experience throughout my life to learn precept upon precept, line upon line, by small and simple means, that the Lord knows me, he loves me, and he is aware of me. I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost. I am so grateful for the scriptures--for all the prophets who, by their faith and works, made it possible for us to have them today. I am so grateful for my life and the people in it.
I love my Father in Heaven. I love the Savior, Jesus Christ. And more now than ever, I love the Book of Mormon! I am so grateful to have done this challenge and to have shared the experience with each of you. Now it is my prayer that I can always remember, and never forget, the important things I have learned. Although this is the end of the challenge, it is not the end of studying and seeking the blessings of greater knowledge and wisdom. I want to have the kind of faith and hope and charity that will allow me to be numbered among those who were "partakers of the heavenly gift." My knowledge of the scriptures is growing, and with it I am gaining the desire to pray more often, to be more kind, to hear and feel the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and to follow them. I have felt the joy that the scriptures describe--it is a joy that can only come through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.