In our Relief Society this year we have been challenged to read all 4 Standard Works (Bible, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and the Doctrine and Coventants). This challenge initially came from our San Diego Temple Matron to other wards, but our Relief Society President wanted to challenge our ward.
I'm taking on that challenge and have kept up so far. It's easier for me to listen to 5 pages of the New Testament and 3 pages of the Book of Mormon a day at lds.org than to read them. So that's what I've been doing.
Our President also has encouraged us to share our thoughts and impressions that we've had while participating in this challenge. I sent her something last week and thought I'd share it here as well. I probably will be doing this in the future as well. Here is what I wrote to her:
I just had some thoughts tonight while reading that I thought I should share with you. First of all, it’s really hard for me to read the New Testament and the Book of Mormon so I’ve been listening and following along with them from the lds.org site. I really want to get the Masters Degree so I’m doing everything I can! Listening makes reading SO much easier and I find I don’t fall asleep as quick.
Anyway so I was reading in 2 Nephi Chapter 4 tonight and some things really stuck out to me. I hope I can portray my feelings well enough.
I love how Nephi bears his testimony about the Savior in the middle of the chapter. I just felt the love and personal relationship that Nephi has with Jesus Christ while Nephi bears his testimony of all the wonderful things Christ has done for him in his life. I especially liked where he said “He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.” It really makes me want to strive to strengthen my relationship with the Savior so that I can feel that love so strong.
But my favorite parts of the chapter start with verse 26. I think the reason I like this so much is because we see the humanness of Nephi. Despite all these wonderful things that have happened in his life, he still has struggles. He still “weeps” with his “soul in the valley of sorrow.” He “yields to sin” and “gives way to temptations.” I feel like I can really connect to Nephi unlike any other prophet because we all go through these things every day. I have had wonderful testimony building experiences, but I still fail on a daily basis. I still make mistakes but somehow it makes me feel better because even Nephi did the same. Not to excuse my behavior because of someone else, but I can just relate his experiences to mine better. One part of this chapter has special meaning to me because the same words are found in my Patriarchal blessing. In verse 27 he says, “Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul.” My blessing says do not let the “evil one have place in your heart, to destroy your peace and afflict your soul.” That phrase has been such a strength to me. It has helped me understand how Satan works with us versus how Heavenly Father works through the Spirit. It helps me connect my experiences to those in the Book of Mormon and really liken the scriptures to myself.
I feel a connection to Nephi because he is human, but the last part of the chapter is what is really important. In 33 he says “O Lord, with thou encircle me around in the robe of they righteousness! Oh Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! 34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever.” What sticks out for me is that despite the fact that he is tempted by Satan and sometimes he yields, he still knows where to turn. He still realizes that salvation and peace can come only from the cleansing power of the Savior. He gives me hope that if I pray and put all my trust in the Lord, whatever is going on in my life that I may be struggling with will be taken care of. I love the imagery of being encircled about in the robe of righteousness. Christ has promised us that through our faithfulness we can always stay close to the Savior and be protected by him.
Thanks for this reading challenge. It has definitely been a blessing for me.