Some 24 years ago, in 1988 President Benson presented a classic message and vision on how we should be: Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon
(President Ezra Taft Benson October 1988 General Conference.)
"This has been a landmark year in the history of the Church in the use of the keystone of our religion—the Book of Mormon. This sacred volume of scripture has brought more souls to Christ, both within and without the Church, than ever before. …
The Book of Mormon is the instrument that God designed to “sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out [His] elect” (Moses 7:62). This sacred volume of scripture needs to become more central in our preaching, our teaching, and our missionary work.
The definition of the word 'flood' can be (1) a (usually disastrous) overflow of water from a lake or other body of water due to excessive rainfall or other input of water. (2) (figuratively) A large number or quantity of anything appearing more rapidly than can easily be dealt with. (3) A floodlight. In terms of computing, it can refer to any large number of items .. a flood of calls or messages. It can be taken to mean a literal or a figurative event. Of these meanings: to overflow, to provide with large number, or to cover/illuminate, I would like to think of the term 'flood' in the sense of the floodlight, flooding our world, a bright beacon to help us see our way clearly in our potentially very dark world.
Last week my wife and I drove to Utah and back to collect our daughter from her summer vacations. We left after work on Friday and took turns driving through the night, arriving at Salt Lake City by 7am the next morning. The trip was aided by the presence of a bright full moon. The reflection of the light from the Sun via the Moon, even though the Sun itself was temporarily out of sight, was more than enough to keep us safe on the road and to our destination. We could have made our way with just our own headlights, I suppose, but the trip was much easier, we could more easily see where we were and where we needed to go, because of the additional light from that full moon.
On a prior occasion, on a night with no moon visible at all, while driving my old car back down from Edmonton, I lost my lights completely. Driving south on the highway just north of Red Deer, my all my lights just stopped working. I could barely see the road, and I was in a very precarious condition. Not only could I not see ahead, but cars approaching from behind could not see me. I edged over to the side of the road and continued slowly into Red Deer. I ended up spending the night overnight in a Motel and plugging my battery charger into the parking lot plug all night to restore power to my lights and continue on my journey.
Of course, in the full light of the day, we can easily see where we are and where we need to go. In the daytime, the earth and our lives are flooded with light.
President Benson looked forward to the day where the Book of Mormon, it's spirit and it's teachings, flooded our lives and the world we live in entirely.
Brothers and Sisters, this 'flood' must start in our own lives, in our own homes, in our own sphere of influence. In his talk, President Benson continued, saying:
At present, the Book of Mormon is studied in our Sunday School and seminary classes every fourth year. This four-year pattern, however, must not be followed by Church members in their personal and family study. We need to read daily from the pages of the book that will get a man “nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”
And when we are called upon to study or teach other scriptures, we need to strengthen that undertaking by frequent reference to the additional insights which the Book of Mormon may provide on the subject (see 1 Ne. 13:40; 2 Ne. 3:12). …
In our home, my wife initiated the practice of reading 6 pages a day from the standard works for our family scripture study. We had previously been reading for a fixed period of time each day, often from the Book of Mormon story books. I admit that at first it felt like she was dragging me along. I was not quite converted to the vision. I confess now, that this practice has been a powerful influence on our family as we have continued this simple practice. When we are not together, we make sure that each family member is 'on the same page' for that day's reading, wherever we happen to be in the world. It has been a blessing in our lives.
Our daughter spent a week with her Aunt and Uncle in BC. She was able to continue reading on our family schedule on her own. When her mother and her were at Education Week in Utah, I was able to stay on the same page as they were, by following our family reading schedule. We maintain this practice in addition to the Book of Mormon reading assignments in our stake. There is a power in all 'being on the same page.
President Benson continues:
The time is long overdue for a massive flooding of the earth with the Book of Mormon for the many reasons which the Lord has given. In this age of electronic media and mass distribution of the printed word, God will hold us accountable if we do not now move the Book of Mormon in a monumental way. [..] My beloved brothers and sisters, we hardly fathom the power of the Book of Mormon, nor the divine role it must play, nor the extent to which it must be moved.
I find it interesting to contemplate the exponential growth and accessibility of the text of the Book of Mormon. Since it was first published in English in 1830, the Book of Mormon has been fully translated into 82 languages, and printed copies have totalled more than 150 million. In addition, it is available in electronic form, on my book reader, on my computer, on the internet. I can download either text or audio versions. I can listen or read from it's pages from pretty much anywhere I happen to be. I can tweet about it. I can like it. That seems like a flood to me.
And yet. How do we move the message from the book into our heart and mind?
Would you describe your own life as having been flooded with the Book of Mormon? Is it a common topic of discussion in our homes?
“Few men on earth,” said Elder Bruce R. McConkie, “either in or out of the Church, have caught the vision of what the Book of Mormon is all about. Few are they among men who know the part it has played and will yet play in preparing the way for the coming of Him of whom it is a new witness. … The Book of Mormon shall so affect men that the whole earth and all its peoples will have been influenced and governed by it. … There is no greater issue ever to confront mankind in modern times than this: Is the Book of Mormon the mind and will and voice of God to all men?” We testify that it is.
My youngest daughter had to give a talk a few months ago. It was on fast offerings. After preparing her talk, she came back to us to excitingly inform us; 'Did you know that fast offerings donations are to come from the money saved by fasting those two meals each month?' This 'new' insight we had somehow failed to teach to her. I know we have discussed it in past FHE lessons, perhaps before she was old enough to remember, and have taught the principle through practice over the years. Remember, we the need to continue to teach all of our children, even the stragglers.
A non-member co-worker once shared her 'bucket list' with me. One of the items was 'to read the Bible'. I remember thinking it somewhat strange to have never read that volume even once. I grew up in the church. I recall getting a sticker in primary for having read the Book of Mormon, well before I was age 8. So, is reading the Bible and Book of Mormon now checked off my 'bucket list'? No, we must continue to read from their pages and study and live their teachings.
President Benson presented his vision for us with the following words:
"I challenge our Church writers, teachers, and leaders to tell us more Book of Mormon conversion stories that will strengthen our faith and prepare great missionaries. Show us how to effectively use it as a missionary tool, and let us know how it leads us to Christ and answers our personal problems and those of the world.
"I challenge those who are in business and other professions to see that there are copies of the Book of Mormon in their reception rooms. …
"I challenge the homes of Israel to display on their walls great quotations and scenes from the Book of Mormon.
"I challenge all of us to prayerfully consider steps that we can personally take to bring this new witness for Christ more fully into our own lives and into a world that so desperately needs it.
"I have a vision of homes alerted, of classes alive, and of pulpits aflame with the spirit of Book of Mormon messages.
"I have a vision of home teachers and visiting teachers, ward and branch officers, and stake and mission leaders counselling our people out of the most correct of any book on earth—the Book of Mormon.
"I have a vision of artists putting into film, drama, literature, music, and paintings great themes and great characters from the Book of Mormon.
"I have a vision of thousands of missionaries going into the mission field with hundreds of passages memorized from the Book of Mormon so that they might feed the needs of a spiritually famished world.
"I have a vision of the whole Church getting nearer to God by abiding by the precepts of the Book of Mormon.
"Indeed, I have a vision of flooding the earth with the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon is true. It Testifies of Christ, it contains his Gospel and Doctrine. It brings us back to God. Where does it start? Like most great works, it must start with you and with me, with you and your spouse, with you and your family. It must start with my ward and with your ward, in our stake and in our town.
With Joseph, I testify that 'the Book of Mormon [is] the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and [we will] get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.'
May the light of the Gospel shine in our lives as we strive to obey this principle. Amen