In 2005, our stake presidency challenged us to read the Book of Mormon by June 30. I had never taken one of those challenges to read it more quickly than in a year, but I was serving with the Laurels, and wanted to walk the walk with them. It ended up being easier than I expected, and I loved the experience – so much so, that I decided to start over again July 1, and read it again by December 31. When President Hinckley challenged the church to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year, I was happily beginning the book of Jacob. By December, I had resolved to read the Book of Mormon twice a year for the rest of my life.
What I didn’t know was this: Heavenly Father was preparing me for a coming storm. Three years later, a storm hit – and that decision to read the Book of Mormon twice yearly turned out to be the spiritual equivalent of building an ark. I would not have survived that storm if I had not responded to God’s invitation to make this book a part of me.
This is the book that has mattered the very most in my life. It’s the book that made the Bible make sense to me. It’s the book that has given me the best lessons from the best friends. The “characters” in this book are real people, who I absolutely cannot wait to meet some day – to thank them for writing THEIR lessons so I could learn from them.
Thank you, Nephi – for being willing to consistently and repeatedly do back breaking, hard things your entire life, because you knew it was God’s will, and because of that, He would help you.
Thank you, Abinadi – for looking evil in the face and calling it what it is. It has mattered to see you do it in the face of unspeakable consequences.
Thank you, Alma, Sr. – for bucking the worldly culture of your peers in an effort to save a man’s life, and for taking the time to write every single thing down that that martyred man taught you. I can barely speak of how it has mattered to know you prayed for a wayward son, and that because of YOUR faith, God rescued that son. And thank YOU, Alma, Jr. – for your undeviating course after that rescue, and for your tender handling of your own wayward son.
Thank you, Zeezrom, for your integrity when called out on your lies. That’s the hardest things people have to face, and though you get little press for your miraculous conversion, I love that your story is included, and that you are listed among the mighty missionaries.
Thank you, to a man whose name isn’t even recorded – Lamoni’s father – for teaching me how to utter the most important prayer anyone ever utters in his lifetime – “I will give away all my sins to know Thee.” Thank you, king of the Lamanites – for your guileless humility in being willing to give up anything – everything – for the privilege of knowing God.
Thank you, Captain Moroni, for loving liberty and for teaching your people to love it, for preparing them to preserve it, for seeking revelation in how to physically fight evil, for fully and completely understanding and acting on fixed, correct principles. Thank you, Pahoran, for being an amazing example of true charity when unjustly criticized and accused by a friend.
Thank you to another Nephi, generations later, for sitting at the feet of the resurrected Jesus Christ, and recording every word He uttered.
Thank you, Mormon, for the years it must have taken you to sift through the generations of history of your people – a decaying, dying society – for doing the spiritual preparation necessary to receive revelation as to which records we needed – I needed – to live in our own decaying, dying society, and remain a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Thank you, brother of Jared, for daring to go before God with physical needs, and with an outlandish suggestion of your own as to how God could meet those needs. Thank you for warning your children that kings lead to bondage. Nations generally do not heed that warning, but it stands as a witness to nations through the ages – wicked leaders will harm their people.
Thank you, Moroni, for your courage in living on the run for more than 20 years, for protecting these sacred stories with your life, for telling a teenager where you hid them 1400 years later, and teaching him why these STORIES are important for our time.
This is a book about Jesus Christ. I love Him, and I love this record of some of His finest disciples, whom I also love. It has mattered to know them. It has mattered to read their stories, and liken their experiences to mine. It has mattered that they literally gave their lives, in a variety of ways, to being His disciples, so I can better learn how to be one.
If I ever had to go into hiding in the wilderness and become a book, this is the book I want to become. I am a witness – if becoming this book becomes the quest of your lifetime, in the end, you will have become like Jesus Christ. If you love Jesus Christ, you will find Him in this book. It’s a handbook full of patterns – not just patterns of how to become LIKE Him, but how to have Him BE WITH YOU.
This. Book. Matters. It matters most of all.
By Laureen Simper