I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by wonderful parents. My father loved the scriptures and many a family meal was seasoned by scripture discussions. I grew up listening to stories of Captain Moroni and Nephi and all the great Book of Mormon prophets told not from a book but from my father’s heart. They were as much a part of our home life as the furniture. Because of this I loved the scriptures and read them whenever I had time or was in need which I thought was often enough. But I had only been married eight years when I found out that “whenever” isn’t often enough.
At that time I was called to be on a committee to help write lesson manuals for the Church auxiliaries. I was the youngest person on the six member committee and intimidated (to put it mildly!) by the other very accomplished men and women. The committee met weekly at five o’clock in the evening which meant that the men came directly from work and didn’t have time to eat, so sandwiches were provided. During the first few minutes of each meeting we ate and talked about our week.
It wasn’t too many weeks into the assignment when I realized that one of the reasons these people were so wonderful is that every one of them started their day with scripture reading. They didn’t just read scriptures once in a while when they had time. It was part of their daily routine just like brushing their teeth or eating breakfast. They never missed and it wasn’t because someone had told them they should do it. They did it because they loved it. They did it because it fed their souls. That was very evident by the way they talked. If time were a problem and they had to leave something out of their day, they would rather leave out the brushing of teeth or the making of the bed or the eating of breakfast than the scripture study! Mind you, none of them told me these things in those words; it was just evident.
But then something else began to occur to me. Week after week as we ate and talked about our lives, I realized that these people didn’t just read the scriptures. What they learned each morning was an integral part of their lives. They’d mention stories about the problems they were having with their teenage children and how one morning as they were reading scripture the thought came to them of what to do to solve the problem. They’d tell about caring for older parents and how just at the point of utter discouragement their morning reading buoyed them up and allowed them to serve with charity. Week after week the stories continued, not in a preachy or holier than thou way, but with a feeling of gratitude and a matter of fact certainty that scripture reading always brought those kind of results.
As I already stated, I loved the scriptures and I knew that the prophets had asked us to study the scriptures daily, but I had four children under the age of seven and somehow figured that exempted me. But as I listened and learned from these amazing people, I realized that I was cheating myself. Because of their example, I began to make scripture study a daily priority and to experience the blessings for myself.
Often in Church I’d heard stories of someone pondering a problem. Seeking answers, they’d go to the scriptures and miraculously open to the very verse that answered their problem. I’ve never had that experience. What I realized as I began to study daily is that it wasn’t always the words I was reading that brought the answers. I could be reading about Alma digging trenches and building walls to fortify cities, and somehow the answer would come to me as to what a particular child needed or what decision I needed to make to solve a certain problem. What I learned is that by setting aside time and going to a sacred place (the scriptures), I created time and space for the Spirit to speak to me about what I needed to know and to do. Yes, I learned the scripture stories and the doctrines of the gospel, which has been an enormous blessing in my life, but the greatest blessings came from what was communicated to me “between the lines.” The scriptures have lifted me when I was discouraged. They have comforted me when in physical pain. They have guided when I could see no way out of a problem. They have increased my joy when I was already happy. They have empowered me to do things I never imagined I could do. In short, I have been nourished by the good word.
Jacob once asked, "After ye have been nourished by the good word of God all the day long, will ye bring forth evil fruit, that ye must be hewn down and cast into the fire?" Jacob 6:7 The obvious answer to that question Jacob is, “No!” There is no way you can remain in the trenches of discouragement or darkness or despair if you are constantly nourished by the good word. I learned that for myself. There is transcendent power in the words of the scriptures. There is comfort, love, peace, and joy in making them part of our daily lives.