I was raised in a Mormon family and went to church regularly with them. I loved the stories of Jesus – particularly how He loved and blessed the little children. I accepted His “reality” in the simple faith of one raised in this kind of home.
Then, one day during my teens, I was reading The Book of Mormon and found the most astounding passage in Ether chapter 3. It records an actual visit by the Savior to a man known as the “brother of Jared” whose people were preparing to leave the area near the Tower of Babel, after its destruction by God as told in the Old Testament. The brother of Jared was praying for guidance. It would be thousands of years before the Savior would be born to Mary and Joseph.
As the brother of Jared prayed, Jesus actually appeared to him! Jesus looked like a man with a body and that greatly surprised the brother of Jared. The verses I have quoted here deeply touched me and have been a strong base of my abiding faith in the Savior and His atoning sacrifice ever since. He died that we might live again!
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As a teenager, I liked to speculate about religion with my parents. My general attitude about religion was skeptical; I felt it the responsibility of others to build my faith.
One day when I was nearly seventeen, I was leaning over the counter in the kitchen reading The LDS Church News which ran a cartoon strip that day depicting events from the Book of Ether in The Book of Mormon. I read the passage, “Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” That admonition struck a particularly responsive chord and I realized that I had things backward. Instead of demanding proof first, this scripture was telling me I should try to exercise faith first; the assurance would then come after my faith had been tried. One effect of reading this scripture was to make me generally more optimistic. It was the start of a conscious shift of direction, a willingness to try first and expect proof later.
The Book of Mormon itself stands for me as a persuasive artifact, because of the many witnesses who speak to the physical presence of the gold plates; the short time in which it was translated; and particularly the chiastic form in which much of The Book of Mormon is cast. This and the power with which it speaks to my soul all lead me to believe the book is everything Joseph Smith said it was.
One of the things that The Book of Mormon has helped me with is having a perspective on life and the adversities that I face. There are some chapters that talk about a group of people called the Jaredites. They were present at the Tower of Babel and they prayed and asked that their family’s language would not be changed. The Lord blessed them and guided them to the promised land. They had to do a lot of preparation and worked in faith to accomplish the task. The trip was long and dangerous, and every detail in the whole voyage can be compared to our journey in life. There are times when it seems that things don’t let up and the wind doesn’t stop. It seems hard and not worth the struggle. But when the Jaredites dealt with such problems, they saw that the wind they experienced was blowing them towards the land of promise. It was helping them to get where the Lord wanted them to be. Their example has helped me in times of trials because they continued to sing praises to the Lord and thank Him for all that they had been given. They never ceased in their praising.
Three months after my twins were born, my church leader called me in and asked me to be a Blazer Scout leader. With twelve children, I was totally overwhelmed. I didn’t say “no” immediately because my son Wid was asked to be my assistant scout leader. When my husband Dean asked me what was wanted, I sarcastically said, “I wonder what I’ve done wrong. Can you believe it? He asked me to be a scout leader for twelve eleven-year-old boys.” Dean surprised me by saying, “Well, that sounds like fun. You’ve never had that calling in the church before.” I was mad, and it took me a whole week to humble myself and ask the Lord if this was truly inspired. On Friday, with a Sunday deadline to give my answer, I knelt in prayer and the answer came loud and clear, “1 Nephi 3:7: I will go and do . . . .” I chuckled as I thought, “Well, Heavenly Father isn’t asking you to go get someone’s brass plates, but just to take twelve little boys and prepare them to receive the priesthood and scouting skills and values.” It was one of the most exciting and rewarding opportunities I’ve had in my church. Serving five years in that position, I worked with all four of my sons and each of them earned their Eagle Awards. We made diamonds in Dr. Tracy Hall’s laboratory, toured the Provo Utah LDS Temple before it was finished, and re-enacted Ute Chief Sowiette’s defense of the Provo Fort. I am indebted to the leader of the other twelve boys in our ward. She became a wonderful mentor and friend. I testify that whom the Lord calls, he qualifies.
When asked about my Mormon Faith, my initial response is always the same. I passionately embrace the concept of an Eternal Family. Many of our beliefs are taken on faith. That is, I do not have a perfect knowledge of their validity, but I strongly believe them to be so. While I may not have a “perfect knowledge” of a family that lives on eternally, I do have such a knowledge of the temporal impact in my life.
The Book of Mormon teaches and reminds me to be a more loving, supportive and understanding spouse and parent. Love for my family is not just something in which I “believe,” but rather a tangible emotion I can grasp with certainty and conviction. Love for family drives my hope and bridles my selfishness. Family brings love, faith, joy and fulfillment into every aspect of my daily life.
While I may not have a perfect knowledge of Heaven, I am blessed to have a perfect knowledge of Family here on Earth. For me, it is everything.
As a young mother, I watched some of my children express doubt because their prayers were not always answered immediately or in the way they wanted. I, myself, felt that God’s love for me was manifest in the blessings I received at His hand. So when trials came along, and lasted a long time as they often do, I had the feeling that I had displeased my Heavenly Father in some way and was not worthy of the blessing I badly needed. Then I read, again, the counsel from these two great prophets and I realized that my children and I both needed to learn that hope and faith always precede the miracle. Answers to prayer, and especially miracles, do not happen in order to prove our faith is justified. I told my children that asking for blessings to prove there is a God makes faith unnecessary, and that is not the way God operates.
I know God is there and hears my prayers and loves me, weak as I am. I have learned that “no” is an acceptable answer to a requested blessing. Thanks to Ether and Moroni, I continue to have faith that Heavenly Father’s wisdom is greater than my own, and that is what I now share with my grandchildren.
This verse is important to me because it tells me that if the Lord asks me to go or to do something, then I should be obedient and listen to the Lord. My family was deciding whether to move to the U.S. or to stay in Vietnam. We were living in Vietnam at the time. We had a hard decision to make, so my parents went to the temple to pray and ask if we should move to the U.S. or not. The Lord gave them the prompting to go look for a house in the U.S., so they went and looked at different houses. When my Mom came into the house we are now living in, she said that we were going to get this house. My parents went back to the Provo temple just before we went back to Vietnam. They were comforted and decided we would move back to the U.S. Now we live in the house my Mom said we would buy. If I listen to the Lord and do as He asks of me, then I will be blessed in many ways.
When I was fourteen years old, I read The Book of Mormon from cover to cover for the first time. When I began, I wasn’t sure if this book was the word of God. I remember reading 3 Nephi, Chapter 11, which talks about Christ visiting the people on the American continent shortly after He was resurrected. In verse 14, I read the invitation that Christ gave to the people, and in verse 15, I read how the people responded to Christ’s invitation.
As I thought about these two verses, I got a good feeling inside. I could see in my mind the people coming to Christ, feeling His hands and feet, and knowing that He was there for them. I prayed to God and asked Him if Christ really did visit those people after His resurrection. God answered my prayer and made it known to me that His son did visit those people. I knew at that time that the Book of Mormon was the word of God.
Many years have passed since I was fourteen. I have read the Book of Mormon over and over since then. Every time I read it, I find new insights to help improve my life and come closer to God.
At times, I have felt that God is not there when I need Him most. I have felt forgotten and abandoned. During these times of great difficulty I am forced to rely completely on faith. The Book of Mormon, and this verse in particular, helps provide me with peace. It comforts me to know that He is there and that He does love me. He has “graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” This verse helps me to believe that I am important to Him and that He is with me even through the trials that I think may seem insignificant to Him. He does care about me and wants me to return home to Him.
I am so grateful for The Book of Mormon and the spirit that I feel when I read it. It is an anchor in my life and it keeps my perspective looking up even through my heart aches. It brings a peace into my life of knowing why we are here and what we should be doing, and that God lives, and Jesus is our Savior.
This thoughtful, instructive admonition is the way that anyone can find out for themselves if the Book of Mormon is truly inspired scripture. When I read The Book of Mormon and have followed this scripture, I have been blessed with a good feeling, and it has helped me increase my faith in my Savior Jesus Christ.
I accept the Holy Bible as the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. I also have faith that The Book of Mormon contains the word of God and his prophets, and will help us come unto Christ. I love the spirit I feel as I read The Book of Mormon.