I love books. Anyone who knows me very well knows this. I’ve read a lot of amazing books, and I have dozens and dozens more that I’d love to read. My bookshelves are literally overflowing. My books cover modern fiction, classic fiction, historical fiction, autobiography, biography, history, English reference, and religion. I’ve learned a lot from these books and found wisdom in many of them.
But the words of Christ and His prophets are still the most powerful I’ve read. Their words are overwhelming in their truth and doctrine. Testimonies of God, of change, of healing, of progress, and of power fill the pages of scripture. And every single time I read and seek to learn, the Spirit assures me that these things are true.
Most days, the scriptures strengthen me and teach me. But there are certain scriptures that have helped me at critical times in my life. These scriptures stand out in powerful ways that I can never forget. There are two examples I particularly want to share with you:
God Doesn’t Command in All Things
I was sitting in the Missionary Recovery Center in Manila, my body aching while I tried to convince myself I could return to my mission. But the fact was, something was wrong with my health, and the Philippines wasn’t the best place to figure out what was going on.
I knew I needed the medical care the United States had to offer, but I wasn’t ready to go home and leave my mission for good. Heartbroken, I prayed and asked God if I should return home or if I should return to my mission and stick out the next several months through the pain I was in.
Not much of an answer came, so I opened my scriptures. It was one of those times when I flipped them open randomly and began reading wherever they happened to open – in this case, it was in D&C 58:26.
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.Doctrine and Covenants 58:26
Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly the answer I was hoping for. But I knew it was the one I needed in that moment. When I read that verse, I felt the rebuke of it. God wasn’t going to tell me exactly what to do in this situation. Even though I knew this was my answer, I was immediately frustrated. I wanted God’s will to be done. So why couldn’t He just tell me what He wanted? I read the next couple of verses, hoping for more of an answer.
27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; 28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.Doctrine and Covenants 58:27-28
I still didn’t have the answer I wanted, but again, I felt this was the answer I needed. As I thought about why God wasn’t giving me a clear direction about whether to stay on my mission or return home, I realized that He wasn’t withholding direction just to be difficult or to teach me patience. Instead, He was telling me that He trusted me to make the decision on my own. Neither option was wrong. Serving as a missionary was a very good thing, but it was also important for me to take care of my health. God trusted me to choose what was best and would not condemn me for my choice.
That lesson has been so powerful for me. There have been many times since then that these verses have again come to mind, reminding me that God trusts me to use my agency. If there is something that I need to choose, He will make that clear to me, but more often than not, the answer He gives me is, “You have agency, and I trust you to use it well.”
Taken Home to God
A few years later, I sat in my bedroom one night. I was home alone and about to get ready for bed when my mom called me. It wasn’t normal for her to call me so late, but I didn’t think too much of it at first.
After chatting casually for a minute, she said, “I have to tell you something and you aren’t going to like it.”
A wave of fear hit me, but I said, “Okay, what is it?”
She told me that a good friend of mine from high school had been in a car accident. He hadn’t survived.
I was shocked. Maybe that’s an understatement. I’d talked to him only a few days before. He’d had big plans and goals, and he was doing everything he could to make those dreams become real. Now he was gone.
That night, as I cried and tried to wrap my mind around this news, I again prayed and turned to the scriptures. It was the only thing I could think of to do.
I knew I wanted to read about God’s plan and about death, so I turned to Alma 40. Verse 11 was the one that stood out as I read:
11 Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.Alma 40:11
From that verse, peace came. Picturing my friend being greeted by our Savior, Jesus Christ, and our Heavenly Father brought so much joy and relief to my heart. I still mourned, and even now, it can be hard to talk about my friend’s death. But I know that He was met with the love of our God.
Trust in the Power of God’s Words
I don’t know everything going on in your lives. In fact, there are many of you whom I have never met. But I do know this – God knows you and everything you’re facing. He can and will help you. One of the best ways for you to receive His help is by turning to the scriptures and reading His words. While it does take some effort on your part to do so, His help will come to you in exactly the way you need it. So take some extra time this week to focus on His words and plead for His help.