One of the speakers at the Christmas conference was President Pomeroy, former member of the mission presidency and a sealer at the Houston temple. I seriously LOVE just listening to people teach the gospel - for those who have such incredible knowledge of the gospel, I could probably sit there all day and just listen to them teach. And President Pomeroy has INCREDIBLE knowledge of the gospel. And something he said really struck me. He spoke about the importance of scripture study, and told us that especially after we go home "if you stop studying the scriptures every single day you will lose your testimony - never do that."
That comment made me think a lot about the importance of studying the scriptures, and the power of the word of God. And since we have a few people with whom we are working who have that exact problem of not reading the scriptures, I was able to spend a bit of time studying that particular topic this week. And of course I found myself in the story of Lehi's dream in the Book of Mormon, in which the prophet Lehi has a dream of the "tree of life," the fruit of which is "most desirable above all things" and which is accessible only to those who have reached the tree by holding onto the iron rod that guides travelers through the mists of darkness. From later revelation to Lehi's son, Nephi, we learn that the iron rod is a symbolic representation of the word of God: "And whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish, neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction" (1 Nephi).
Throughout the scriptures we find NUMEROUS references to the power of the word of God. God himself repeatedly exhorts us to "give heed to my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow" (Hebrews). Alma 31:5 teaches that "the preaching of the word had a greater tendency to lead the people to do that which was just - yea, it had more powerful effect upon the people than the sword, or anything else." When Alma went to preach repentance he did "preach the word of God" unto the people of Nephi to "stir them up in remembrance" (Alma ). The righteous Lamanites sought after the Gadianton Robbers and did "preach the word of God" among them "insomuch that this band of robbers was destroyed" (Helaman ). Boyd K. Packer seconded the truth of this when he stated that "true doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior."
"And thus we see," Helaman writes, "that whosoever will...lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked - and land their souls, yea their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven" (Helaman 3: 29-30).
Clearly their is POWER in the word of God - so why in the WORLD do we struggle so much to read it? Why in the world do we sometimes neglect it?
In asking myself that question, I thought of the story in the Bible of when Moses is instructed by God to make a brass serpent and put it on a pole, that whoever would look upon the serpent would be healed. And yet despite this simple solution, many people still perished. Why? Nephi explained that "because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished" (1 Nephi). Similarly, Alma explained that "the reason they would not look is because they did not believe that it would heal them" (Alma 33:20).
Do we sometimes, like these Israelites, doubt the power of the small and simple things like reading our scriptures? I believe that sometimes we do. That sometimes when we face challenges, especially, we expect some sort of grand quest or miracle or experience as a solution. We don't really believe that something as simple as scripture reading would solve all our problems - just like the Israelites didn't believe in the power of the brass serpent to heal them. We lack faith! Too often we think that *real* faith means trusting in God enough to work mighty miracles like parting the red sea or moving a mountain. However, I would contend that *real* faith is trusting in God to be powerful enough to bring forth great things out of the small and simple. True faith is seen in the easy and simple things. True faith is looking at the brass serpent to be healed. True faith is daily scripture study, and daily prayer.
"Oh my brethren," Alma plead, "if ye could be healed by merely casting about your eyes that ye might be healed, would ye not behold quickly? Or would ye rather harden your hearts in unbelief, and be slothful, that ye would not cast about your eyes, that ye might perish?...but if not so, cast about your eyes and begin to believe in the Son of God" (Alma 33:21-22).
My whole mission, I have had experiences that strengthen my testimony of the small and simple things. This week I've have plenty of experiences that strengthen that testimony. We found new people to teach because we simply spoke to everyone. Because we did that, we are teaching this awesome man from Montenegro who knows the Book of Revelations better than anyone I've ever met. Because we did that, we are teaching the sweetest Muslim family who has SUCH a strong testimony of their Heavenly Father and the power of God. Not of Jesus Christ as the Son of God, no, but we'll get there! Because we did the small and simple thing and said a prayer yesterday when our dinner appointment cancelled and we were positively STARVING (ok that might be an exaggeration - but we were quite hungry!) a member of our ward came right up to us and asked us if we had dinner that night and if not, would we like to come by their home. Because of small and simple things, our recent convert Robin has a temple recommend. Aljae is getting his patriarchal blessing. Diane was asked to speak in church. Lives are changed, and eternity is determined, by the small and simple things. So please, I beg of all, to never, ever, EVER neglect the small and simple things. Never neglect the scriptures. There is power beyond comprehension in the word of God.
I love yall so much. I am so grateful for all of yalls prayers and efforts to further the Lord's work wherever you are!
Christmas Conference reunion with sistah mcqueen!
and elder sully
and elder lacusta
our loverly nativity and Christmas tree at our apartment