Elder Nelson, in the April 2017 General Conference, gave a talk about drawing the power of Jesus Christ into our lives. In it he talked about reading every reference to Jesus Christ listed in the topical guide. He spoke about how doing this had blessed his life.
I decided to take the challenge. It took me quite a while because there are 57 subtitles, but I read every scriptural passage listed. Then when I was rereading his talk, I noticed that he said to read every scripture in the topical guide about the Savior and underline them. Somehow I had missed the part about underlining the references.
So, I decided to reread all the of the scriptural references to Christ in the topical guide and this time, underline them. In some ways this reminded me of a story told by President Monson. This was before the Berlin Wall fell and East Germany was still under communist rule. Elder Monson was the General Authority over East Germany. He was lamenting to Elder Kimball about how he wished the leaders there could have a copy of the Church’s General Handbook of Instructions. Elder Kimball told him to memorize the handbook, go to Germany and type it for the leaders in Germany. What a daunting task!
But that’s just what he did. When he got to Germany he immediately asked for a typewriter and some paper. He had typed about 30 pages when he decided to take a break. While walking around the room he was startled to see the General Handbook on a shelf. Not only was it the General Handbook, but it was in German. I’m sure he had a lot of mixed emotions over seeing the handbook lying on that shelf.
Some could say that all the work he put into memorizing the handbook had been needless. Some could point out that he should have had inspiration telling him it was unnecessary. But, I can see at least two benefits of memorizing the General Handbook. The first was he became an expert on church policy and procedure. Wherever he went he knew how to instruct those he was teaching concerning policy and procedures. Maybe the Lord needed him to know the book inside and out to help guide those he taught, especially because so many he worked with lived outside the United States.
The second benefit is that he was obedient to his church leaders. Elder Kimball, who was a senior apostle, told him to do it and he did. He didn’t question it. He didn’t say it wasn’t possible for him. He went to work and did it. Obedience strengthens the person and helps them qualify for blessings God wants to give them. God already knows what we will do. Sometimes we just need to prove to our own selves that we will be obedient.
So, back to my story of reading the references in the Topical Guide about Jesus Christ for the second time. It was a daunting task to do it again. Some could say I did it with the right spirit the first time, the second time was needless. Some could point out that I should have had inspiration to guide me while reading it the first time. I would have known then to underline the verses.
But, I can see at least two benefits from my reading it again and underlining the second time. The first is how much more I learned from the verses the second time through. There are some verses I don’t remember reading at all. As I was reading I remembered many verses from my first reading. Together the verses made more sense and tied things together better. I had a better sense of the mission of Jesus Christ and His role in our lives. Maybe the Lord just wanted me to gain a deeper understanding of Jesus Christ in my own life.
The second benefit is that I hope to be more obedient to my church leaders. Elder Nelson asked us to do this, and though I had to give myself a little pep talk about doing it a second time, I did it. Obedience strengthens me and helps me qualify for blessings God wants to give me. It also helped me see that in spite of my weaknesses, I really do want to be obedient. God already knows what I’m going to do, but sometimes I really need this reminder.
When I was in my early 20’s I saw a sign that said “A Dreamer Lives Forever” and I thought it was a great saying. I did little doodles with this saying and put them on my wall, and I felt it was profound. Currently there are similar signs that say things like “Dream Big” or “Live Your Dreams” and other similar thoughts, but now I think the sayings are a little incomplete. Dreaming is only one part of the equation. Without work or effort dreams amounts to very little, as well as efforts without dreams also don’t mean much. Thomas S. Monson had a saying that I particularly like, from a talk he gave in 1989. “Vision without effort is daydreaming, effort without vision is drudgery; but vision, coupled with effort, will obtain the prize.” I like this saying because there was a time when it seemed that all I did was work, work, work! I was always tired and it felt like my life was drudgery as I went from one thing to the next. When I read this quote I realized what was missing: vision. I was working hard without a vision of why I was expending so much effort. I did some pondering about why I was working so hard, raising my children and keeping up my home, trying to be a good wife and a good person. I thought about what my purpose was not only as a wife and mother but as a person and a child of God. I thought about why I was here on this earth and basically, what my goals in life were. It took me a while but slowly I started to look at things differently. I’d like to say that all the hard work went away but it didn’t and sometimes I didn’t keep my vision in the forefront of my thinking so sometimes it still seemed like drudgery. But my attitude and thinking did improve and at least I knew why I was doing all that hard work. Over the years I have gotten better at keeping my vision, my goals in my mind. Even now, with only one child at home, when life is easier, I still need to have vision and goals. I still need to know why I’m doing what I’m doing. Dreaming is good, and combining it with effort will win the prize.