He asked us to read The Book of Mormon before January 1st and to prayerfully study it with full purpose of heart. He also asked us to mark each verse that speaks of or refers to Christ.
I took on this challenge and it was one of the best experiences of my life. And, guess what? Christ is mentioned on almost every page. I nearly marked every verse in the book.
I finished reading it December 6th while still in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I wrote in my journal: “After I finished the Book of Mormon, I held it in my hands for a few minutes, not quite ready to set it down and walk away. I developed a new relationship with it. It occupied so much of my time here, and became my beach hobby, my past time. My goal was to finish it before going home.
“When I closed the book, I kept it close for a while, feeling its power, sweetness and goodness. It felt like Christmas to me — like holding the Christ child in a soft-backed little blue book that an ancient prophet named Mormon compiled.
“It felt like Christmas spirit all typed up, bound and published for me to savor, treasure and relish. It felt like a fire on a cold night, a soft handkerchief wiping away a tear, a hug from God saying, ‘It’s all going to be okay — whatever you’ve been through, whatever you’re going through and whatever is ahead of you, it’s all going to be okay.'”
I took a few minutes to write my feelings in the back of the book, and then I put it down on a table and just stared at it. Without it in my hands, I instantly felt lonelier somehow — filled, inspired and deeply joyful, but like my time with it was over too soon.
I discovered Christ on nearly every page — thousands of times in hundreds of ways. His many titles explain his many roles and purposes. The verbs associated with him explain his power in our lives.
While reading, I started to write a list of all the verbs associated with Christ, but the list became too long.
Some of them included in just the first few chapters tell so much about the character of Christ.
He loved, he went forth, he healed, he cast out unclean spirits, he was lifted up upon the cross and slain, he descended out of heaven, he came down and showed himself, he covenanted, he visited, he saved, he took away stumbling blocks, he grieved, he gave strength, he showed his power, he ministered, he protected, he delivered. The list goes on and on.
If you had asked me to explain the Book of Mormon before meeting this challenge, I would have said something like… it is a book about an ancient civilization, and a man named Lehi and his family and how they left Jerusalem and went into the wilderness; and how some of the family remained righteous and some were wicked… It is about how Christ visited them and taught them his gospel.
That description seems so inadequate and even convoluted to me now. After marking every reference to Christ, now I would say simply the book is about Jesus Christ.
I would agree with our first prophet, Joseph Smith, that, “The Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”
I am grateful for the prophet’s challenge, for the opportunity to power through the Book of Mormon within a couple months, focusing on Jesus Christ, his life and teachings. It made for one of the sweetest Christmases of my life, and left me with a new love of the book that has defined my religion since its publication in 1830.
Thank you, President Nelson for issuing an inspired challenge and for the fulfillment of the blessings you promised would follow. You promised that “changes, even miracles would begin to happen.”
I think the change and the miracle I have experienced is knowing Christ in a different, better way; understanding his gospel on a deeper level, and seeing that the power of the Book of Mormon lies in the fact that it is a book that is ALL about Jesus Christ.
I wonder what this new, bold prophet will challenge us next. He told us to buckle up for more to come, “Eat your vitamin pills. Get some rest. It’s going to be exciting,” he said.
I can’t wait. If the blessings are anything like the ones I felt from accepting his Book of Mormon challenge, there are more good things to come under the leadership of this energetic 94-year old prophet.
If you’d like a copy of the book, let me know or request one here.