Reading the Scriptures – No Pain NO GAIN (#8PagesADay)

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Throughout the ages of the world it has been common instruction from leaders of the Church to encourage us to read our scriptures.

Frankly, however, it’s not the easiest thing.

I love reading my scriptures. I set the goal to do so daily. In fact, there’s a current challenge I was issued and have issued, to read the Book of Mormon 8 pages a day, to prepare and be finished by conference.

(#8PagesADay on Facebook)

But even I struggle with it, because for one reason or another, focusing on the word of God takes some concentrated effort. 

And it’s gotten me to think, why is it that the best things in life are the hardest:

Why is it so gross to be healthy?

Why does it hurt to exercise?

Why is it so expensive to save energy? 

And it goes for the word of God as well. So many people now and days struggle with finding the time to just sit down and ponder over a passage of inspired text, perhaps the greatest place they could go for answers to their question. They are just too busy for that.

On Facebook, a young man posted that his faith was waning and his trust in God weakening. When concerned readers posted suggestions to help this young man restore his faith, the most suggested comment was reading the scriptures.

His reply: I don’t understand them.

I felt a desire to cry when I read that. From that I wanted to find out what exactly is the reason the best books in existence – so diligently prepared for us in this era of confusion and craziness, sealed with the blood of martyrdom, and carried and trusted upon from generation to generation – is just so hard to read?

I found this quote a while back that captured my attention: 

One must prospect through and dig into the scriptures like a miner searching for precious metal. Scattered here and there are nuggets, some pure, and some alloyed with other doctrines. Occasionally one strikes a rich vein which will yield all that you are willing to earn, for the scriptures do not explain nor interpret themselves.

I’ve never mined before. I did a dig for fossils back when I was like 8, and that was some extensive work. I remember the digging through sand and sifting with my little pail, and everytime I bagged a fossil, despite all the hard labor to get it, I found myself gripped by the most fascinating and special feeling of success as if I unearthed some lost treasure worth millions. Even if it was a simple ammonite.

Makes me think back to those times when I played The Legend of Zelda and I would have Link reach into the treasure chest full of light and pull out something he really needed. And his face was always one of wonder. 

Now that was sand, and it was hard work. I could only imagine earth. Or the infinite patience required for panning through rivers. 

And as I thought about it, I found myself led to consider one of the more earlier verses of “hard work” we have in the scriptures. 

Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread

Cursed shall be the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also, and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. By the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread

Sorrow? Cursed? That’s all sort of depressing isn’t it? How the good things in life are hard?

Well, sorrow is the English noun that was used to describe the Hebrew word atsav, meaning to labor, toil, sweat, do something very hard.

We also have to remember this:

The record says “the ground” was cursed, not Adam. Then the Lord added “for thy sake.” This means for his benefit; also for your benefit and mine.

The laws of this mortal sphere are established by a just and loving God, and are not intended to be vengeful acts of disappointment. 

Like one leader presiding over the mission that includes my town said:

It’s the hard that makes it great! 

It’s been scientifically proven that the human body is better able to retain healthy organs and functions, and a very strong immune system, when patterns of stress-recovery such as hard work is experienced. Work is essential to physical health, so why is the spirit any different? As it has been revealed in the truths of the Restoration:

There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure.

Spiritual health comes from spiritual hard work. I feel that’s why reading the scriptures is hard. It’s like trying to punch through a wall to get to the other side where you know there’s something good for you waiting. 

Sure it’s going to hurt, but the healing process is so much more glorious, even as you hold that thing you were diligently looking for in your protective grasp – the answer to your most profound questions. And once your spirit is healed, through that stress-recovery process (you could call that prayer or partaking of the sacrament), it’s so much stronger for the harder things that might come. 

So, after you read this post, do your spirit a favor and set a reading schedule. You can participate in the current one right now, or set one that works better to your needs.

If you agree with me, share this post with your friends with the phrase: PUNCH A WALL, GET A TREASURE.

That might get them interested. 

Also, hashtag your posts! I want to see the conversations going on about the 8 Pages A Day Challenge! 

Comment, like, follow, get excited, read the scriptures! 

– Jeremy Unitt

P.S. Coffee is NOT good for you. Scriptures are a better dieting choice tenfold.

Footnotes

  • First Quote: Boyd K. Packer, A Tribute to Women – Ensign July 1989
  • Second Quote: Genesis 3:17-19 and Moses 4:23-25 Cross Reference – Bible with Restoration Scripture
  • Third Quote: Eldred G. Smith, Opposition in Order to Strengthen Us – Ensign October 1973
  • Fourth Quote: President Thurston, How to Prepare For A Mission – Texas Dallas-Fort Worth Mission July 2007 – July 2010
  • Fifth Quote: D&C 131:7
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Your Weaknesses An Invitation To Close Friendship? Why Life’s Tough

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Okay, I’ll admit. I’m a bit lazy when I post. But I promise you, it’s less “Man, another post? I don’t want to post!” and more “WHY IS IT ALREADY 10:00 PM!”

Managing my time is unduly one of my greatest challenges. And because of that, I feel prompted to theme my post on that.

My time management lack is but a tiny grain on the enormous list of the many challenges humanity faces. The pessimist may feel prompted to ask: Why is life so hard? Why challenges?

Some are moved to accuse God the Father for these challenges. Saying it’s His fault.

Well, they got one point right, but they see it in the wrong perspective.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we accept an open canon as a source of spiritual nourishment and guidance, the beginning of the open canon in this era opened with the keystone revelation of the Book of Mormon. And in it is written a most poignant and sublime explanation for the reason of challenges.

It comes from the twelfth chapter (my all-time favorite) in the Book of Ether, verse 27. It is quoted below:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men who humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then I will make weak things become strong unto them.

Interesting stuff, this voice of the Lord moment to Moroni came when Moroni was expressing the common pattern of most prophet-leaders in the scriptures when they first get started: “How is this possible?”

So the Lord declares where weakness comes from. Closeness to God means a deeper recognition of those parts of us that are in need of improvement. The purpose of the missionaries of the Latter-Day Saint faith is to invite others to come unto Christ. That means the closer you are to Him, the more you are going to see those parts that shouldn’t be there. Or perhaps require your consistent leaning upon Him for help.

I invited a friend of mine to read this verse several times, then pray and ask what is the grand key that leads to the conquering of challenges. He said humility and faith.

Humility implies recognition, gratitude, and understanding the role of dependence upon the Lord. It is an acknowledgement. Faith in this context implies deep abiding trust. Knowing that God will deliver, in the way He knows best, even if its not instantly. it is confidence.

So some readers might ask why. Why would the Lord want me with weaknesses?

Thinking in Facebook terms, did you ever think it may be His personal invitation to you to be His friend?

God loves us so deeply, deeper than we can even fathom or try to express. Don’t you think He wants to be here 24/7, by our side, guiding us?

Weakness has intentions to inspire acknowledgement of true strength and absolute confidence. And I would say, symbolically, it’s a friend request. With a weakness, you have now gained a chance to an automatic spiritual conference, every moment you turn to Him, to help you strengthen your challenge and overcome. His grace is sufficient, meaning that sacrifice He made, covers whatever you are going through, and that counts for everyone. So everyone’s got a friend invitation through their challenges.

Now here’s the top question.

When are you going to press “Add Friend” and make your weaknesses strong?

That’s my day’s injection of goodness and light into cyberspace that can only be found in the restored Church. Share, like or comment please!

– Jeremy Unitt