Editor’s Note: The following is the first chapter in a new book from Marilynne Todd Linford on the Book of Mormon. Click here for more information. 

They had been awe-filled months, and I had received the results for which I had hoped—deeper insights into the doctrines, specific and detailed knowledge of the peoples and places, considerably greater understanding of the structure of this book of holy scripture, and

increased ability to identify with Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. I felt richly rewarded; my expectations were met. I would have felt forever grateful even if the experience had ended there, but along the way, about seven months in, something completely unexpected happened.

I had typed from 1 Nephi through Mosiah, which took me to page 207. The longest book in the Book of Mormon, the book of Alma, loomed before me. Although I had learned and felt much, Alma with its 63 chapters and 162 pages seemed daunting. Over and over I had to refuse to listen to the negative voice that kept whispering in my ear to abandon the project. After much consideration, I determined to forge ahead and finish.

As I began to type, individual words seemed to call attention to themselves. Thoughts came, such as I don’t remember typing that word before and This text feels somehow different. After typing more than two hundred pages, I could tell something had changed. I couldn’t identify what it was, but something felt unsettling.

Then the thought occurred to me that some years previously I had heard that the word ‘plan’ was not found in the Bible. I opened my computer scripture program and typed p-l-a-n and saw that ‘plan’ is found forty-seven times in scripture. I clicked on View to see where the word is found and scrolled down. Sure enough. Plan is not found in the Old or New Testaments. It is found forty-three times in the Book of Mormon, twice in the Doctrine and Covenants, and twice in the Pearl of Great Price. Then, thinking about the word ‘plan’, the phrase ‘plan of happiness’ came to mind, and I wondered how many times happiness is found in scripture.

When I typed h-a-p-p-i-n-e-s-s, I was surprised to see it is found only 32 times in all scripture. I clicked on View to see where happiness appears—0 times in the Old Testament, 0 times in the New Testament, 1 time in the Doctrine and Covenants, 1 time in the Pearl of Great Price, and 30 times in the Book of Mormon. “How interesting!” I thought, not knowing if it made any difference or not.