Listening to a speaker talking about faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and other gospel principles, some of us might find ourselves reflecting or even counting how many times we’ve heard about these topics. We might find these repeated messages boring at times. Most of us have probably already heard and studied these gospel principles more times than we could count. So what is the reason for such repetition?
When we watch the performances of athletes during the Olympic Games, we’re often amazed by their talents and think that they must have been born with such gifts, which is usually true. But behind their awesome performances are many years of steady and consistent preparation and practice they’ve done to reach the level of performance required to compete in the Olympics. And one of their most effective tools during these years of practice, is repetition.
Building a solid spiritual foundation is like training to compete in the Olympics. It requires repeated practice and consistent commitment. We can see this pattern of learning in the way the angel Moroni instructed Joseph Smith about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. In the Pearl of Great Price we read that Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith four times and delivered the same message. However, although he delivered the same message, there was also an additional message in every appearance—”a foretelling of future events, a personal warning, and a commandment.” Joseph learned about what he should do through repeated instruction.
The pattern of instruction in Joseph Smith’s account is the same pattern that the Lord wants us to embrace. When we hear a story from the scriptures, the Lord is not just teaching us the same story over and over again for it to become firmly rooted in our hearts. The Lord is also trying to add to our understanding. Some of us may have heard others sharing that even if they have read the Book of Mormon many times, they still learn something new whenever they read the book. This is a fulfilment of His promise that those who “receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light.”
We might sometimes feel that we already have enough knowledge, or that our foundation is already firm enough. But the Lord warned that to them who say, “We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.”
So the next time we hear a message that we have already heard before, let’s not tune it out. Instead, let’s ask ourselves, “What is the Lord trying to teach me this time?” or “What additional knowledge or instruction can I learn from this message?” When we are willing to listen to what the Lord wants us to learn, our hearts and minds will be ready for increased understanding and further light and knowledge from Him.
Our lives here on Earth are like competing in the Olympic Games every day. We are constantly faced with choices and circumstances that test our spiritual stamina. The Lord knows that winning these tests require a solid spiritual foundation that can only be built through consistent, often repetitive, spiritual learning and nourishment. If we embrace this pattern of learning that the Lord has set, our spiritual foundation will not be shaken by the repetitive waves of temptation and challenges in our lives.