I have always felt a bit of an affinity for Jacob. Of all the books in the Book of Mormon, this one seems to feel the most familiar, the one that speaks most directly to me. If there is ever a book I just want to go back and read again and again, it is his. I thought I would share some personal stories that relate to some of the chapters I read this evening.
“But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction. O all ye that are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his life; for ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.” (Jacob 3:1-2).
These two verses have always stood out to me. I am not entirely sure why. They just always have. Indeed, enough that I have attempted several times over the years to commit them to memory. Oddly, I have not been able to retain them.
During the summer of 2004 it was my goal to memorize a new scripture every day. I failed miserably but I made a valiant attempt. There are probably 20-30 verses that by the end of the summer I had committed to memory. These two were two of them. The next summer when I started spraying lawns again, I started by trying to recite all the scriptures I learned the previous summer. Only 3 verses from the previous summer did I really retain. I will perhaps get to them in another blog. They are only in the next chapter.
However, again in 2005 I set out to memorize the scriptures from the previous summer and to add some more. I remember distinctly walking through the yard of the Oliverson Family in Whitney/Glendale area outside of Preston, Idaho. They have a massive lawn which must be over an acre. As I walked back and forth across the lawn, I recited these two verses over and over again. I carried a note card in my pocket with them written on it which I had to reference often to begin. By the end of the lawn I had it set to memory.
I have to paint some of the picture. It is nearing dusk and I was worried I may not finish the lawn in time. I did finish in time and went on to spray the Hardcastle residence as well. The sun was setting slowly, and you cannot necessarily speed up spraying a lawn. To do so would be to apply less chemical and cheat the lawn owner.
I worked my way back and forth across the lawn like a dutiful farmer. I was pretty sure nobody was home. With the pump running on the truck, I could recite the scriptures out loud with little fear of anyone hearing me. I must have painted quite the picture in the sunset.
There are other stories similar to this one. For some reason I cannot still recite the words to the verses, but I can tell you probably three locations on where I know I worked on memorizing the verses. Odd isn’t it?
What do the verses say. They seem to explain the individual basis of the gospel for every person. Pray, with faith, and all will turn out for the right. But that just isn’t enough. We must not just pray with faith and hope it will turn out right. Nope, we are to pray and to receive the word of God. It seems to me that when we receive of the word of God and then feast upon that word, which is also the love of God (as Lehi and Nephi’s dreams tell us). This is expressly available to all who are pure in heart. I find myself in a longing for this. Mormon or not, these words are true. Look to God, pray, and receive of his love. We may, if we will be firm in our minds and devotion, forever. How beautiful is that?
All the rest come after that. If we try to do it a different way, it will be incorrect. You can be baptized a hundred times and without learning to commune with heaven, it won’t do much good. After all, if we haven’t learned to commune with heaven, what good is the Gift of the Holy Ghost? What good is the endowment if we don’t learn how to communicate with the angels now?
There was no miracle at the Oliverson Home, except perhaps in my heart. Those verses have yet to be fully committed to memory, but somehow their intent and meaning burn in my heart. That is more important anyway.