“Immersed in Isaiah,” Ensign, Mar. 1999, 51–52
I have always loved the scriptures, so one day I eagerly reached for the Book of Mormon to begin reading it again. I also pulled a spiral notebook from my desk and decided to record what I was learning. Patiently I studied and wrote notes about chapter after chapter—until I came to 1 Nephi 20 [1 Ne. 20], which quoted Isaiah. At first I panicked. I had made earlier attempts to study Isaiah and found the material difficult to understand. But since I had committed to studying, I felt there was no need to depart from my plan just because I had come to scriptures that were more difficult to comprehend. I decided I would go no further each day than what I was able to understand.
Faithfully I recorded what I was learning. My recent study of the Old Testament helped my comprehension, as did my thick dictionary and the maps of the ancient Middle East found in the back of the LDS edition of the Bible. Still, sometimes I spent weeks puzzling out only a few passages. I studied some verses so much I had them almost memorized, and I found myself thinking about them as I ran errands and cleaned the house.
One day while I was in the car doing errands, an answer came to me about a point that had puzzled me for some time. I had wondered about Isaiah’s choice of the words prisoners, darkness, and captive (see 1 Ne. 21:9, 21; Isa. 49:9, 21). As I thought about those words, a scripture suddenly came to mind: “And the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Those who find and accept the truth are led from spiritual captivity and brought out of darkness into the light of the gospel! Suddenly I felt I understood what Isaiah was saying.
Other insights came to me. Weeks turned into months, and I exchanged my spiral notebook for a computer. Studying the 19 chapters of Isaiah referenced in 1 and 2 Nephi had become an adventure. Often I worked to complete household tasks quickly to make time to study. Other times I spent an entire day studying. My whole family was very tolerant of my immersion in studying Isaiah and seemed to enjoy hearing some of my thoughts about current events as they related to Isaiah’s prophecies.
These studies took almost an entire year. Not only did my understanding of spiritual things increase, but my own nature softened and changed for the better. My love for others increased, and my desire to do missionary work intensified. I felt I could be part of what Isaiah prophesied about our day by sharing the gospel with others. Never before have I had a greater learning experience with the scriptures than during my study of the chapters of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon.