The Inspiration Behind the Book

In my field as a profile writer for trade publications, I write nice stories about inspiring people that help promote them and bring them notoriety. I've done over 1,200 of these stories! I love my job but after 20 years I starting feeling that there was something more that I should be doing with my writing talent. So I started to pray that Heavenly Father would lead me to do something that would honor Him with the gift He helped me develop. I made it a matter of regular, heartfelt prayer for almost a year. I didn't give up because I knew God answers our prayers in His time when we're really ready to receive it, and I believed with all my heart that He would answer mine.

Of course when you ask God for something you have to be looking in the right places for the answers. So I promised him that I would read the King James Bible (which scholars believe is the most correctly translated version) every single day until I had read it cover to cover -- and I did! It wasn't easy but a promise is a promise and I wanted Him to know I would keep my promise and patiently watch and wait for an answer.

I have to interrupt my story to give a little background information. When Jesus said, "Other sheep have I which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. (John 10:16), we believe He was talking about the people here in ancient America who were warned by God to flee Jerusalem just before it was destroyed. They were directed to build a sea-worthy craft and under heavenly guidance traveled by boat to the Americas. These people grew to be known as the Nephites, being named after their great leader Nephi. Anyway, God commanded them to keep a book of records containing a history of their people and of God’s dealings with them in their new land.

Just like the people in ancient Israel, God placed prophets among the people of Nephi to teach them His will too and to prepare them for His coming. In fact, after He was crucified, Jesus did come to spend several days among the Nephites teaching them as he did in Palestine. And they wrote all of this down just as the Jews and early Christians kept a record of His word. One of the last prophets to keep the record, before these people were ultimately destroyed by wars, was a prophet named Mormon. He compiled and abridged 1,000 years worth of records, and that's why it's called the “Book of Mormon”.

Mormon's son, Moroni, was the last of his people to survive the great slaughter launched by the unbelievers. God commanded him to bury these records so they would not be destroyed. Then when the time was right God caused them to come forth again to tell the real history of the Native Americans, and become a second witness of Jesus Christ. That’s why Mormons use the Bible and the Book of Mormon together. They go hand in hand testifying of each other and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Even if you are not LDS and do not consider all of the great men in this book to be prophets, I urge you to still consider their last words. Each of these men strived to live an exemplary Christ-like life. Reading about their great faith, words of wisdom, and testimonies of Jesus Christ is an inspiration to all Christians.

Sorry for this brief history lesson but you needed to know that to hear the rest of my story. Anyway, after I finished the bible I decided to promise God that I would read the entire Book of Mormon again for the 6th time.

You see I still hadn't received my answer yet, so I had to keep trying to find it. Nephi's brother Jacob became the next prophet of the Nephite people after Nephi's death. As Jacob was nearing his own death, he pleaded with his brethren to turn their hearts to God. His account in the Book of Jacob was so emotional towards the end that I started to cry. It hit me so strongly that here was a prophet, but he was a father and a son, and a brother too. And he knew he was dying. With his last words he was reaching out to his loved ones one last time with the best wisdom and advice he could give them. His powerful last words sunk deep in my soul.

That night while laying in bed I started thinking about the last words of Jesus as he hung on the cross. In his agony he said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34) In his dying moments He was praying for forgiveness for the people who were killing Him!! Can you imagine? Not only that, but I was struck by the message those last words sent to each of us. That no matter what, we are told to forgive and love one another as He loves and forgives us. That was the last message He wanted to leave with us.

Those last words of Jacob and Jesus stuck in my head with profound force as I fell asleep. Then I had a dream I'll never forget. I dreamed that I was alone in a car driving down a bumpy country road when all of a sudden I heard a voice softly say, "Close your eyes." I thought, "What? Close my eyes? I'll get killed!"

I continued to drive hoping I was just hearing things, and that I wasn't really expected to do such a suicidal thing as driving a car with my eyes closed! But then that compelling voice spoke again, "If you trust me close your eyes and I will steer you." Suddenly I knew the voice, and I knew this was my test.

So I sat up straighter, took a deep breath, gripped the wheel with all my might, pushed the gas pedal, and closed my eyes. For the first few seconds I was struggling so badly gasping for breath and hyperventilating because I was so afraid and the desire to open my eyes was so strong. I could feel my fingers digging into the wheel and my heart pounding but I knew I had to prove to God that I trusted him to lead me.

Just when I couldn't stand it anymore, and was just about to fling my eyes open, a powerful wave a peace and calm washed over me. My eyes were still closed tight but the fear was gone. Then I realized that not only was the car manipulating all the turns seemingly by its self, but also the road was made smooth and was no longer bumpy!

I woke with my hands still in a wheel-gripping position. I was so shaken that I woke up my husband to tell him all about it. In his sleepy state he patiently listened then said, "Okay honey, but am I going to have to worry about you driving around with your eyes closed from now on?" I assured him no – that I thought I had already passed the test.

That next day I felt compelled to read the last words of the prophet Jacob again and had the same sweet feelings as before. So I went back and read Nephi's last words and was struck by the same emotional impact. Then I thought about my family and what my last words to them might be. I thought it would be so nice to try to find and read the last words of other prophets to see what wisdom I could glean from them. So I started flipping around the scriptures but got lost and side tracked and discovered that before long the nice feeling I had was replaced by frustration.

I found myself wishing someone had just compiled all those last words of the prophet in one book so I could read them all one after the other. They would, after all, be just as important today as they were back then. Frustrated I went about doing housework and chores but I could not get that thought out of my head.

Then the words came back to me, "Close you're eyes and let me steer." At that moment it became so clear that the Lord was telling me to trust him – that I had passed the test and was ready to receive the answer to my prayer. He had a work for me to do that would bring people to Him. In that moment of personal revelation, I knew with every fiber of my being, that I was called by God to write Last Words for the Last Days. So, trusting in Him I pressed on for over a year not knowing if I could even get a publisher to print a book like that. But I knew I had to write it anyway, if for nobody else but my family.

So that is my humble, amazing story of how I gained the faith to close my eyes and let God direct my life and my talents. I am thankful to tears every time I contemplate the great blessings that have come from trusting in the Lord. I testify that personal revelation really works! I would encourage anyone reading this to trust in the Lord. If you desire to know what the Lord wants you to do, study the scriptures, obey the commandments and ask your Heavenly Father…. the answers will come!   -  Kathleen Ryan

 

About the Author

Kathleen Ryan - Author of Last Words for the Last DaysKathleen Ryan is an award-winning writer and public relations professional. Originally from Massachusetts, she moved to Florida where she resided for 25 years before relocating to rural Alabama.
Kathleen launched her writing career in 1980, and since then has written more than 1,200 articles for national and international magazines, newspapers and trade publications, in addition to editing, co-authoring, and ghost writing a variety of specialty books.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, her life-long service has included: Area Media Specialist, Stake Relief Society President, Sunday School Teacher, and Church Educational System (CES) Instructor for both Seminary and Institute classes.





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