I received my 1st copy of the Book of Mormon (BOM) just after my baptism into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was 8 years old (1974, yikes!). I read 6 verses before I put it down for another 7 years. The 6th verse of chapter 1 of 1st Nephi talked about a Prophet named Lehi, and how a pillar of fire came down and dwelt on a rock in front of him. To an 8-year old who had already seen the movie The Ten Commandments this provided a visual that stayed with me, and made me excited 7 years later to find out what happened.
I read the BOM all the way through for the 1st time at age 15 as part of an assignment for a religion class that ran concurrent with High School called Seminary, taught by Brother Swenson. What was my 1st impression? I have no idea. In that Seminary class, one of the goals that we were encouraged to achieve was called ACAD (A Chapter A Day), a goal that developed into one of my best habits.
Some time in my late teens I started to read my chapter a day in the morning before school or work or whatever, and another chapter a day at night before going to bed. If you read 2 chapters of the BOM every day, you will finish it twice in 9 months. Allowing for skipped days, if there aren’t too many of them, a good soldier can get 3 aimed rounds off in 1 minute, er… you can read the BOM 3 times during a year. I served a proselytizing mission for The Church from age 20 to 22, during which I read the BOM 8 times. From that time until about 2 years or so ago I read the BOM 2 or 3 times a year. I’m almost 45 now, so let’s see. I’ve read the BOM about 60 times (give or take a few). Now, before you accuse me of bragging, let me get something straight right now. You better believe I’m bragging. I’m very proud of that accomplishment.
To start off my BOM Blog, I’ll share some of my feelings about this wonderful book. I love my Heavenly Father. I love His Son Jesus Christ. I enjoy a close relationship with them, God as my Father and Jesus as my Savior. When I pray to Heavenly Father in the Name of Jesus Christ, I feel a tenderness there. I really feel like I’m speaking with someone I know and love, and who knows and loves me too. Heavenly Father knows the John Barney who is deep inside of me, like nobody else could know him. He knows how I feel now, how I felt last year, how I'll feel next year, and how I felt when I was 6 years old. Most of the time when I pray, I pray on my knees with my head bowed, eyes closed in humble reverence to His status as All Mighty God. Other times, I speak casually to Him while walking or driving, as if he was a great and loving friend walking with me. Jesus Christ is The Son of God. I love Him dearly. I worship Him and honor Him with all the might I have in me. In 1st John 4: 19 it says, “We love Him because he first loved us.” My first impression when I read this verse was that we love Christ and appreciate His sacrifice for us. Deeper thought showed me that, though my first impression is true, some of what John was saying was that the power of Christ’s atonement, and its ability to heal us from all sin and infirmity, purifies our heart, and gives us the ability to love really Him. You know, like a positive feedback system. The more we love Christ and lean on His atonement, the more we come to understand the atonement and Christ’s true love for us, which enables us to love Him even more. And the cycle continues. What does all this have to do with the Book of Mormon? Reading from the BOM, and the attending Spirit that always comes when I do, I have come to know and understand Jesus Christ in a way that would never have come any other way. I love the Bible. I love it when Paul says:
I can’t say how these verses would have struck me if I were someone else who had never heard of the BOM, but I can say that, because of the foundation of Jesus Christ on which I am built, the solidness of which comes from my experiences with the Book of Mormon, this passage of scripture from Paul strikes my heart and makes it sing its truth. I love how Paul tries to express how much The Savior loves us, but then really can’t because it is just beyond words. I know the feeling.For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth , and length, and depth, and height;And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.
So, that’s it for today. Peace be with you.