At My Mother’s Knee and Always…
My gospel learning began as a very little child, the sweet stories of Jesus at my mother’s knee, like the aroma of roses to yearning senses, they draw memories as can few other things. Not understanding, yet knowing that the Lord was always close by, ever watching over me, gave me a still feeling of safety and peace. Maturity and harsh realities brought chill to those warm feelings, like the cold bite of winter air on bare skin. In time, relying solely on mother’s tutorship, the instruction of Sunday school teachers, and passive listening to pastors and priests, fell short. I came to know that more was required. I began to see that for a soul sustaining witness of Christ, a witness necessary to provide nourishment in hours of spiritual famine, those heart wrenching times when one feels too weak to endure the trial of another day, I must make the nurturing of my testimony and understanding of gospel truth the priority of daily effort. While foundational faith can be set in place by a loved one or pastor, the upkeep and structural integrity of that foundation is the ultimate responsibility of the individual.
To my best recollection I received my first book of scripture, a large print copy of the King James Edition of the Bible, Old Testament and New Testament included, when I was eight years old. By the time I was 12 years old I became drawn to it, reading the New Testament especially, taking notes and cross referencing scripture to increase my understanding. I became a student of the Scriptures and carried them with me often, to the extent that some bullies I knew referred to me unaffectionately as Scripto. I paid them little mind and continued in my way. Through my youth and young adulthood the stories of the ministry of Christ came to life in me and I yearned to share them as often and with whomever I could.
Although I have always been devoted in my religious belief, I would not describe myself as pious in my youth. While I made great efforts to gain understanding and share with my friends and those around me gospel principles I had learned, my behavior was often less reverent, and I was many times disobedient to the laws I was learning, showing the same weakness of anyone when exposed to the temptations of the world. Knowing always the difference between right and wrong, mistakes I made were not dwelled upon long before my repentant heart would lead to corrective behavior, restitution where I could, and the seeking of forgiveness from the Lord, His grace where I was so lacking.
“Every day I strive, and every day I fall short, yet with my repentant heart and humble effort, the Lord reaches across the chasm of my sin and rescues me.”
I am ever grateful for the grace of God, the infinite atonement of our loving Savior, that I may be liberated of the chains that I have forged. Every day I strive, and every day I fall short, yet with my repentant heart and humble effort, the Lord reaches across the chasm of my sin and rescues me. How can I not seek to learn more of Him and share it with the world?
The Lord has provided a mountain of resource that we might have access to understanding and through His Spirit the very powers of heaven to our benefit. Our generation has unique access that pinnacles above times past when illiterate masses had neither access to the written word of God, nor the trust in men that they could receive it in pure fashion as the Father would have us blessed. What once and still occupies multiple shelves of books in my home, and in days before martyrs gave life for, is now but a tiny fraction of what I can access and cross reference at the touch of my thumb on the device in which I write these words. I have no excuse not to seek His word and greater understanding of His gospel. The responsibility of my gospel learning falls upon me.
“Come, follow me.”
For this I read. For this I write. For this I pray and ask guidance from on High, that I may know His words and come unto Him, even as He beckons, “Come, follow me” (Luke 18:22).
When we draw near to the word of God, and reading and applying scripture or actively listening to and following the voice of His servants we gain power over the adversary and temptations of the world. As Martin Luther wrote, “Nothing helps more powerfully against the devil, the world, the flesh, and all evil thoughts than occupying oneself with God’s Word, having conversations about it, and contemplating it.”
For salvation we must be wholly reliant on the Lord and His grace that we might gain peace in this world and exaltation in the world to come. Nevertheless, in terms of our personal experience and efforts, we must be self-reliant, coming to know the Lord by study and action, and therefore able to follow Him. If we resist understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ, knowing His laws and ordinances, and abiding by them as best we can, then we will not know His law to abide, nor be able to see His path to follow. How can we repent if we fail to see and understand that of which we need repentance.
Institutions of religion and higher learning are wonderful and needful for our growth and progress. God’s kingdom on earth is within His Church. Nevertheless, the study and application of the gospel of Jesus Christ must also be the effort of individuals, not a Sunday at church only participation, but be a part of our daily lives at home, and with our families. We must not solely rely upon the witness of others one day a week to bring our whole lives to Christ. As Elder David A. Bednar taught, “We should not expect the Church as an organization to teach or tell us everything we need to know and do to become devoted disciples and endure valiantly to the end. Rather, our personal responsibility is to learn what we should learn, to live as we know we should live, and to become who the Master would have us become. And our homes are the ultimate setting for learning, living, and becoming” (General Conference, April 2019).
“Your children will be excited to learn and to live the Savior’s teachings, and the influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease.”
President Russell M. Nelson
We have been invited by President Russell M. Nelson to transform our homes into sanctuaries of faith, remodeling our homes to become the very “center of gospel learning.” With this remodeling effort in our lives we are promised, “Your children will be excited to learn and to live the Savior’s teachings, and the influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease. Changes in your family will be dramatic and sustaining” (General Conference, October 2018). Such a promise is worthy and worthwhile of all the time we can give.
Elder Bednar has admonished that we take personal responsibility for our gospel learning. “As learners, you and I are to act and be doers of the word and not simply hearers who are only acted upon. Are you and I agents who act and seek learning by faith, or are we waiting to be taught and acted upon? … A learner exercising agency by acting in accordance with correct principles opens his or her heart to the Holy Ghost and invites His teaching, testifying power, and confirming witness. Learning by faith requires spiritual, mental, and physical exertion and not just passive reception” (From a satellite broadcast address to Church Educational System educators given on February 3, 2006).
“A learner exercising agency by acting in accordance with correct principles opens his or her heart to the Holy Ghost and invites His teaching, testifying power, and confirming witness.”
Elder David A. Bednar
We need to be learners of the word and then show the faith to act, to do. With those acts of faith the Lord will bless us with hope to move forward until the blessed day when our path to follow Him leads us to His side. I look to that day. I expect that you and I will stand in the light of His love with our families and friends, and what a joyful day that will be. May we remember with joy those stories of the Savior at our mothers’ knees, and continue our education and practical application of the gospel of Jesus Christ always, that we may one day stand before Him together. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.