"Working on it," came his standard reply, knowing exactly what generated my question. When my son started preparing to serve a mission, our Stake President issued him the challenge to read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover before he left. Not too big of a challenge, since he had five months from the time he got his call til the time he actually was set apart and boarded the plane.
Some months into his preparation and after much of my near-nagging, it occurred to me that the invitation to read the Book of Mormon was not just for my missionary alone. In fact, it's an open invitation to everyone - members, non-members, Christians, and non-Christians alike. Including me.
And, because its what planner's do, I made a plan.
First, I calculated my time frame. Because I'd procrastinated, and my plan was to read it before he entered the MTC, I had about 50 days to read just over 500 pages. Well, that sure made the math easy: ten pages a day! Whew! Difficult? Perhaps. Doable? Absolutely.
I purchased a brand new, unmarked, miniature copy of the Book of Mormon. Brand new, so I wouldn't get distracted by the highlighted verses and abundant margin notes of my well-used, standby copy. Mini so that it could fit in my purse and I could take it wherever I went.
As easy as opening the page to 1 Nephi, my personal challenge had begun. Diligently, I worked my way through first and second Nephi, proud with myself for staying on task.
Then, something happened. A few days after slogging through the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi, my heart changed. My challenge became an experience. My task became a pleasure. The familiar verses and stories started to come together. What had always read like a textbook to me had suddenly become more like a novel. Though an abridgment of different ancient stories, the Book of Mormon, in fact was one continuous story. I began to relate to the characters, cheering at their successes, crying at their defeats. Our ancient ancestors came alive. I saw their personalities, felt their trials, and celebrated their triumphs... I found myself looking forward to reading as I anxiously awaited the time when Christ would come visit them.
Never before have the words of the scriptures touched me so deeply. I've often heard people say that they hunger for the scriptures and I always thought I knew what they meant. Well, as it turns out, I didn't. But, I do now. They touched my heart, my soul, and my mind. They truly filled me.
There were days I would read and re-read the same chapters over and over again. Stories of our Savior, testimony of Him, the faith of our ancestors that sought Him for generations and generations before He was born, and the steadfastness of those who followed him for generations after his heavenly return. Men and women of faith. Children of virtue and promise.
In 50 days I learned more about the Book of Mormon than I have in all my years of study. I learned more of my Savior's love for me and of His promises to those who follow Him. I gained deeper testimony of the prophets, both ancient and present day - of their relationship with God, of their service, their love, and their ultimate devotion to leading us in the direction the Lord would have us go. This book of scripture that I've treasured for years, now has even deeper meaning to me. My testimony is firm. I know of it's divinity, of it's truth, and of its purpose in our lives.
I'm so full of excitement about my experience I feel like yelling from the roof-tops, "READ THE BOOK OF MORMON!" Whether you've never opened its pages or are a seasoned reader, read the Book of Mormon. Whether you do it in 50 days or 50 weeks, read it. Whether you like to read or not, READ IT!
"How are you doing with your reading?" The question is for me, this time. "Done," I answer, but not definitively, for one can never be done absorbing the word of God. Til the day I die, I will continue to study the scriptures, the Book of Mormon and the Bible alike. I make a new challenge, do the math, and set a goal: I will read the New Testiment, cover to cover, ten pages at a time. If I start today I should finish by the end of February.
Editorial note: You can get a free copy of the Book of Mormon by clicking HERE.