by Joan Sowards
How does one eat an elephant?
My summer reading is a book I’ve put off for too long because I’ve always viewed it as an elephant. I’m taking it a few pages every day, and surprisingly, I’m enjoying reading it. There are a lot of things in it that I don’t understand, but I do my best. In the past, I’ve started this book numerous times, only to lose interest or get stumped by its peculiar nature, but this time, I’ve persevered and it is paying off. The book is the Old Testament.
Six months ago if you had asked me if I’ve studied the Old Testament, I’d have said yes. I have read many passages and cross-referenced, and had listened to and enjoyed Bible stories, but I’d rather have been taught the lessons than read them. Its wording seemed like cryptic seawater, not leisure reading. Our family would jokingly say, “If you can’t sleep, read Isaiah.” I confess to have used the technique several times, but actually, I now read his words wanting to know why Nephi loved the man’s writings so much. It is enlightening to learn that, time-wise, Isaiah was to Nephi what Joseph Smith is to our day. That makes more sense of Nephi’s love for this prophet.
By reading the Old Testament—I finally understand why Moses and the children of Israel wandered in the desert for forty years rather than have taken the shortcut and been done with it. I’ve finally got past the scandal of Bathsheba to see that King David was actually a very good, righteous man, and have grown to love him. Also, it is interesting that its writers used story and character development, foreshadowing, descriptive words and metaphors.
Just as one comes of age and reads the Book of Mormon to gain their own testimony of it, this is the year that church members, individually and as a whole, can gain a testimony and understanding of the Old Testament.
It is all about reading it. So, the answer to my first question is: One bite at a time.