I heard a story once of a highly skilled and highly trained violinist. After a concert, a woman approached him with compliments for his playing, saying, “I would give my life to be able to play like that.” He answered her, “Madam, I have.”
The lesson of this story is clear: to master a skill, or to know something really, really well, you have to work at it. You have to devote a lot of time to it, probably over many years.
Scripture study is no different. If we are to understand what the scriptures say, we must read them. We must study them, ponder them, and pray about them.
Now, I am not the poster child for scripture study. Whatever advice I give here, I mean doubly so for myself.
I’ve always loved reading; I could spend half the day just reading. So you might think scripture study must be easy for me. Not so. My weakness was always novels. A fantastic sci-fi or fantasy adventure story held much more fascination for me than the word of God. Now I find I’d often rather read politics than scripture.
But when I sit myself down to read scripture, I am much more richly rewarded than when I read anything else.
John A Widtsoe, a leader of my church in the 20s, said, “It is a paradox that men will gladly devote time every day for many years to learn a science or an art, yet will expect to win a knowledge of the gospel, which comprehends all sciences and arts, through perfunctory glances at books or occasional listening to sermons. The gospel should be studied more intensively than any school or college subject.”
When I read them, those words struck me immediately as true. We spend years going to school as children and adolescents to learn reading, writing, math, and other subjects that have been determined necessary for our functioning in society. Many people go on to study many more years in college to prepare for careers. How much more important is it to understand the will of God?
I’m thankful for the religious training I received in my childhood and my youth. Lessons in church revolved around scripture reading and gospel principles, and applying them to life. In high school I attended a program called seminary: I woke up at 5 a.m. every school day to attend a class for in depth scripture study before school. It was marvelous to immerse myself in the scriptures.
I haven’t studied much of other religions; I’ve devoted my time to learning the doctrines of my own.
This study prepared me for life far better than all my secular education did.
Christ said to his disciples, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:29, KJV)
I’ve often had questions about God’s plan, and, for the most part, answers have come through my own study, not through someone just answering my questions. When I read the scriptures, think about them and pray about them, I find answers to my questions. When I don’t find answers, I find reassurance through faith. After all, God doesn’t give us all the answers. Sometimes, we have to simply trust in him.
No kind of learning has benefited me as much as learning about the gospel, the “good news.” It encompasses all areas of life. Today, I resolve to be more diligent in studying the scriptures daily to learn of God’s plan for me.