I am really bad about reading lessons before hand. I have good intentions, but it never seems to last. And I’m sorry to have to put this into words, but sometimes the teacher doesn’t inspire me to study on my own, so I don’t. I have learned that I am the only loser in this scenario.
Last year, I made a commitment to myself that I would read and study the New Testament on my own. My plan was to prepare a lesson of the material as if I was going to teach it. I wrote what I learned in a journal. I included my thoughts, my inspirations, and my new discoveries. I searched other related scriptures, I read through past conference addresses (I LOVE the Citation App on my phone!!!!), Institute manuals, and searched the Internet for faith promoting helps (in the search space I always add “LDS” so I don’t waste time at anti-Mormon sites. That helps me stay focused on finding the material I already believe in, but I have been known to check out what other faiths believe on the subject, and have found some thought-provoking answers there as well).
Happily, I kept my commitment throughout the year and completed my study of the New Testament. First time, ever! And it really felt great. I go back, periodically, to read some of my thoughts, and there is great satisfaction in recalling that information that now means so much to me.
I have yet to tackle Relief Society lessons. But I am going to give it a try. So what if it’s April. I’m starting now, and you guys can share in my personal discoveries. My journal will come in the form of posts.
I’m not here to dictate what everyone should be learning. And I have no illusions as to being the best source of information, but I am happy to share my thoughts, connections, and insights that keep me excited about the gospel I cherish and need to keep learning about.
I have been both a teacher and a learner, often both at the same time. But I can testify of one sure thing: No one can make you learn anything, remember anything for any length of time, or inspire you in any direction. It is only your personal desire to learn, and accept the feelings you get from the Holy Ghost, that can reveal marvelous and beautiful truths to your own understanding.
If you go to any gospel class, having studied the material ahead of time, three things will happen to you:
- You will already have a testimony of the material being taught.
- Where all teachers SHOULD be effective, not all teachers ARE effective. If you have already studied the material, YOU WILL BE AFFECTED personally.
- You are more likely to share your own testimony, which could be inspiring to someone else.
As we speed toward the Second Coming of the Lord, I am feeling the urgency of our prophets in being spiritually prepared, in gaining and maintaining a firm testimony of the Book of Mormon, and in being able to testify of my own faith and experience in this gospel.
I’m tired of a world that teaches me how to be disobedient, stiff-necked, and resistant to the Spirit. It’s time for me to listen to our prophets and leaders as they preach repentance and inspire us to seek a better world. I can seek for the pattern to accomplish this in the scriptures where I can find step by step instructions, and so much more.
May I offer one idea that may help you get started on your own personal journey.
Everyone has questions about the doctrine of this Church because no one knows everything. Discover your questions. Your questions should be based on a desire to gain faith. Seek after knowledge and understanding.
Go to the Topical Guide where your questions can be categorized into topics. There you will find scriptures to read, references to follow, and (if you have access to Citation) conference addresses from our prophets.
If you want to study a Sunday lesson, go a step further and study the scripture references thoroughly. Ask questions as you search and find the answers along the way. Don’t stop until you can testify, with a surety, that what you have learned is Truth, and comes from God.
Obey the commandments all day, every day. I testify that obeying the little things will create a sensitiveness in you that is borne of the Spirit. You will receive additional inspiration and understanding for what you are studying.
As Pres. Kimball said,
“We want our homes to be blessed with sister scriptorians–whether you are single or married, young or old, widowed or living in a family…Become scholars of the scriptures–not to put others down, but to lift them up” (“The Role of Righteous Women,” Oct. 1979).
We have felt the course change for a long time. It is now time to act upon it.
“One of the purposes of the organization of the Relief Society was that a system might be inaugurated by which study of religious subjects, or Church doctrine and government, might be pursued by women. The administration of charity under the direction of the Bishopric…was to be part of their active work. But this was not intended to absorb their activities to the exclusion of the development of faith, and the advancement of women in literary, social and domestic activities of life.” (Said by the First Presidency and quoted by Dallin H. Oaks, “The Relief Society and the Church,” Apr. 1992).
Sis. Beck really lit the fire in us, but we must hold that torch up high now.
“How does a woman in our day find answers to her own questions and stand strong and immovable?…The Lord depends on His daughters to do their part to strengthen the homes of Zion and build His kingdom on the earth. As they seek and qualify for personal revelation, the Lord will pour out His Spirit upon His handmaids” (Julie B. Beck, “And Upon the Handmaids in Those Days Will I Pour Out My Spirit,” Apr. 2010).
Come with me on a journey to hold on to the iron rod by discovering the words of our prophets in the far past as well as present day.