(Sorry: no photo. My box was stolen, so I couldn’t take a picture of it.)
This past semester, I’ve had the chance to teach a beginning strings class at my children’s elementary school. In the beginning of the semester, I brought with me a wooden box. It was about 2 1/2′ square and about 10″ high. It was stained with a cherry wood stain. It was a perfect mini stage, and Lane had made it years before.
Each week I invite the children to share what they had practiced that week. They would raise their hands and I’d invite them up, one at a time, to play or sing or recite something they’d worked on. I loved hearing the fruits of their labors.
About a month ago, I went into the room the we use, and my sharing box was missing. I looked everywhere. No box. I asked the teachers who teach in that room. Nope. I talked to the principal, and he asked around. Nobody knows where the box is.
Could someone have stolen a wooden box? Seriously?
Of course, we don’t have to have a box to share. It just made it a little more fun.
That little experience reminds me of something, and I’d like to interrupt my self-imposed “blogcation” to say something.
In my church, we have one Sunday a month in which anyone is invited to get up to speak during the first hour. It’s called “Fast and testimony meeting.” (We come to the meeting fasting, and we share our testimonies of Christ and other gospel principles with which we have had experience.) Children under the age of 8 are encouraged to share their testimonies at home, but no one is prohibited from standing up who wants to share their testimony. We even usually have a little box, like the one I just described, upon which a child can stand if they want to share their testimony.
My whole life, I have shared my testimony, both standing on boxes (yes, I am short) and not. But I don’t have to have a box or a pulpit from which to share a testimony. I talk about Christ here on my blog, I talk about him at home with my family, I talk about him with strangers I meet on the airplane and with friends as we chat in their kitchens.
And I do this without apology.
Some people get offended when a person wants to talk about Jesus Christ. That’s fine.
But I was thinking about the irony of it all.
If a child came up to me and said, “I don’t have a mother or a father,” I would compassionately believe that they were an orphan, and I would ask them about it and try to help them feel my love. But I would know that no matter how emphatically they believed it or whatever evidence they produced to suggest that they don’t have a mother or a father, that it wouldn’t change the fact that at some point, they did. The fact that they are alive is indisputable evidence that they were conceived and born. And to date, there’s still no other way to begin life on earth.
Some people believe passionately that there is no God, and that Jesus Christ, if he did exist, was no divine being. They like to say that whatever a person believes is his prerogative, and that’s true. They also like to say that how a person acts, based on that belief, is their right, and that no one else should be able to dictate what is morally right or wrong.
And that isn’t true.
A person can say whatever they want, but saying something doesn’t make it true.
No matter how many times you say it to yourself or to someone else. It has to be true in the first place.
Someday, we’re all going to die. We all were born, and we all will die. No one can disprove that without looking like a complete idiot, right?
And at that point, every single person who once was alive on earth will be able to see whether or not God exists and whether He really spoke and gave prophets and commandments, and whether or thoughts, words, and actions really do have consequences beyond this lifetime.
So obviously, it’s fine for each of us to believe what we want and proclaim that, because at some point, each of us will discover whether what we believed was true or not.
But I’m grateful not to wait that long.
There’s this fabulous story in the Book of Mormon that was one of my children’s favorites when she was little. We read it over and over and over again. It’s a conversation between a prophet named Alma and an Anti-Christ named Korihor, and it reads a little like a court brief (but shorter and more interesting). Korihor says that he does not believe there is a God and that Alma cannot prove to him that there is one. Korihor asks Alma for proof:
“43 And now Korihor said unto Alma:If thou wilt show me a a, that I may be convinced that there is a God, yea, show unto me that he hath power, and then will I be convinced of the truth of thy words.
“44 But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of a these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the b, and c things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its d, yea, and also all thee which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.
“45 And yet do ye go about, leading away the hearts of this people, testifying unto them there is no God? And yet will ye deny against all these a? And he said: Yea, I will deny, except ye shall show me a sign.
“46 And now it came to pass that Alma said unto him: Behold, I am grieved because of the hardness of your heart, yea, that ye will still resist the spirit of the truth, that thy soul may be destroyed.”
Korihor refuses to acknowledge God’s existence, so, as he desires, Alma gives him a sign: He says that God will strike Korihor dumb, and from the moment those words are spoken, Korihor can no longer speak.
When Korihor can no longer speak, he writes down that he always knew there was a God. Pretty ironic, wouldn’t you say?
There are times that God, in his mercy, gives us hard situations that bring us to our knees, spiritually speaking. We recognize that we are nothing. That we do not have the control over our own lives that we thought we did. And that He is actually in charge, not us.
We learn that our actions do have consequences after all or that things will happen to us that are completely out of our control.
So here is what I wanted to say today:
God lives. He is real. He has given us laws that if we choose not to follow, we’re going to hurt ourselves and others. A lot. And I’m not going to wait until that point to teach my children or share with the people I love the most about these things. Life is too short and eternity too long to leave them without that critical information.
What kind of a parent brings a child into the world only to stick them out in the desert without any water or food or shelter? Or someone to watch over them lovingly?
When we don’t teach our children the gospel or provide a way for them to receive saving ordinances, it is like we are doing that. We need to be connected to God in this life, and the sooner the better. Life can be so hard! But with God’s help, it is SO. MUCH. BETTER.
People can say that it’s not true. They will.
But I will raise my hand, or stand on a box, or write on a blog, or teach my children at the dinner table, that God really does live. That they have a Heavenly Father who knows their hearts perfectly. That He has a hand in their lives. That He cares about them and can help them with their problems. That if they pray, He will listen. And if they hurt someone, with their thoughts or their words or their actions, at some point in this life, or the next, they will pay. And it will hurt. But if they repent of those hurtful thoughts, words, or actions, they won’t have to suffer.
I’d much rather teach them from their youngest days on to repent and seek God’s help then to watch them suffer from choices that I could have prevented had I just been willing to open my mouth.
Of course, if I teach them, and they still choose to hurt others, then I will be heart broken.
But I will have the peace of knowing that I taught them to repent, so that if they choose to, they can eventually be freed from the heavy consequences that unavoidably come from hurtful behavior, including emotional, physical, mental and spiritual pain and suffering.
Happy Using Your Voice to Teach and Testify of Christ,
P.S. Here are three testimonies that have remained with me for years: