Each time you read passages in the scriptures, you can learn something new. Even if it's a passage you've read before. God taught us to crawl before, toddle before and walk before we run. Reading the scriptures is the same. Because we are growing, the same passage means something more each time it's read, studied and applied to ourselves.
How can we be closer to Jesus Christ? My parents started me on the path to know, follow and be like Jesus Christ. But, because of the atonement, we can start anytime in our lives and grow closer to him. Reading the scriptures helps us to remember to apply its precepts our lives. This will make us better fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, siblings, children and friends.
What is the pathway to being closer to Jesus Christ?
First, develop faith
As a child I trusted what my parents and teachers told me. As I grew I realized I needed my own testimony, my own faith.
Faith comes from reading and studying the scriptures. We learn we are imperfect beings who need to trust the Savior Jesus Christ to get through our time here on earth. We exercise this faith when we turn to him to lift up our spirits, share in our joys and accept his hugs in times of need.
I need to repent of not following what I learn. I often let the negative side of being human take over. In my weakness, I forget to turn to the Lord first and instead trust my own understanding.
Jesus Christ died, atoned, for us so we could get through the trying times and be forgiven of our missteps. All we need to do is ask. We need to repent.
I look at the prophets in the scriptures and wonder why I'm not getting it. Why do I continue to rely on myself? When I pray and read the scriptures, the answer is always, follow me. I want to hit my head like a V-8 moment and wonder why I consistently forget to turn to him first.
Third, accept the forgiveness and move forward
The hardest part of forgiveness is self-forgiveness. Sure it can be difficult to forgive another and may take some time, but in the end, most forgiveness is given. However, self-forgiveness is usually another matter.
Self-forgiveness requires communication through prayer and coming closer to Christ through reading, studying and applying the scriptures. When we do these, we understand and become closer to Christ, and are able to forgive ourselves. We become more like him.
When you have truly repented, are doing his will, are like him and feel his presence, you know you have been forgiven. Accept the forgiveness and forgive yourself.
This step is the hardest for me because I forget to follow him and I rely on myself. At 54 years-of-age, you'd think I would remember all the times he's proven things go better when I apply what I have learned and lean on him.
Through him I'm in the best marriage. He has helped me through the hard times and showed me his way. If I had relied on myself, I would never have realized what was possible.
Fifth, "Come follow me."
To be closer to Christ and obey his commandments, we need to read the scriptures daily. Not when we remember, not when it feels right and not when we have time. None of these worked for me. I have to set aside a specific time of the day and let everyone know I'm not available.
Over the years, this time has changed to various points during the day depending on my circumstances. I haven't been perfect in my study and I thank Christ for his atonement and the chance for forgiveness. There is a big difference in how smooth my life is when I'm reading, studying and applying the scriptures and when I'm not.
"Come follow me," he said. We should always follow him. I've seen the effects in the world and in my life when we do.
I will obey his commandment to follow, to read the scriptures, to study them and to put my name in the passages. If you do the same, you'll find his love for you. You'll see his plan and how happy it'll make you. Christ is not a restricting being, he's a freeing being.
Crawl, toddle, walk, run, read, study, apply and pray always. Jesus is next to you waiting for you to call upon his name so that he, like in the poem Footprints in the Sand, can carry you.