For most of my life I knew of Jesus Christ.
In bits and pieces collected from sporadic trips to church and a stint in a private Catholic school, I gathered knowledge about Him. Where He was born, how He died, when He was resurrected. I remember watching a movie about the Parable of the Sower in a religion class. A resolute and majestic looking sower walked along a path, casting seeds on various terrains. Some grew, some didn’t. I remember watching the seeds in the good ground, a rich and dark brown, sprouting up; the lively green stems looking up heavenward. The movie ended, lights flicked on and I went home that day with a resolve to be good ground and a desire to know more about God and Jesus Christ.
That desire lay dormant for a few years, watching those around me professing their beliefs with conviction. They seemed so assured and confident, I wondered how they knew Him.
There were times when I would sing a hymn during mass and I would feel a chill run down my arms, every sense tingling with truth. I loved those moments, when the beauty and words of music would reach deep down into my spirit and remind me there was a constant truth to be discovered. Those moments gave me brief insight into who God was and I grasped on to that feeling; warmth, energy, brightness, and peace filled me and reflected to me.
I came across that feeling again reading the Book of Mormon. It was a casual venture, trying to find secrets hidden within its pages of the contagious joy of a boy I had met. On the cover, its subtitle read, “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”
The Book of Mormon tells the story of a family and then various groups of people who desire to follow Jesus Christ and in its culminating moment, Christ visits these people. In the glory of His resurrected body, He comes down to teach, administer, heal, and bless those who desired to know. Initially, this was the moment that spoke truth to me of the Book of Mormon. The chapters that describe this visit brought those same feelings of warmth, energy, brightness, and peace. In those chapters I started to not only know of Him, but to know Him.
In the years since I have become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have turned to the Book of Mormon daily. Each day I read from it seemed brighter, I had a better grasp on my personal circumstances. Hope and joy would infuse everything.
In January, along with a challenge to not shop, I also challenged myself to read the Book of Mormon in 30 days. Roughly, this adds up to 18 pages each day, of scripture, in a tiny font. I knew it was possible but that it would require creativity. So, depending on the day, I would read or listen. I would do a little in the morning, some while washing dishes or folding clothes, and then finish the evening with whatever else was left (sometimes the entire 18 pages). I wasn’t perfect, I didn’t finish in 30 days. It ended up closer to 35 but I didn’t let that deter me. My intention was to become more immersed in the story as a whole rather than picking out each symbolic verse.
As I read and listened something persisted at the forefront of my thoughts from the beginning. I thought about that subtitle again and again. For me, it had always referred to the moment Christ appears in glory. Here He is! I would think, This is another witness of His reality! These people saw Him!
But throughout my challenge, I started to see the Savior in so many more moments. He wasn’t visible, showing up in spectacular light, blessing each little child individually with His very own hands. But He was there.
As I read about Nephi, I saw the goodness of Christ as He leads and guides those who are willing. As I read about King Benjamin’s people, I saw the joy of Christ as they accepted with gladness. The more I read and listened, the more I saw Him on each page. His goodness, His love, His mercy. It wasn’t just in the words of those speaking of Him, but in the very lives they lived. In the choices they made and in the desire of their hearts.
I saw Him on each page. His purpose and mission clear, “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39) His grace evident throughout. All along, this book has been helping me to know Him.
I cannot help but express during this Holy week my personal testimony.
I know He loves each and every one of us.
I know He mourns with us and shares joy with us.
I know He desires to help us, that His arms are outstretched always.
I know His Atonement is real and powerful and full of love.
I know He lives and that He offers that same promise to us.
To know Him has become the greatest source of light in my life.