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Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Parable of the Bicycle*

A certain little boy saw a bike he really wanted to buy. His father offered to compensate him for contrived, simple tasks, adequate to his immaturity and smallness in stature, in order for him to save for the bike. Weeks passed by. One day, the father asked the boy if he wanted to go on a walk. He intentionally led the boy to the store window where the boy's desired bike was on display. He asked his dad if he had enough to buy the bike yet. The father said, "Son, I love you. If it wouldn't hurt you to do so, I would grant your every wish, including making up the vast difference between what you have and what you need in order to purchase that bike. Look at that bike, son. It is everything you've ever wanted. I promise you in the presence of that shop clerk that if you continue to abide in my instructions, one day that bike will be yours." The boy would have been sad at this seeming rejection if it weren't for his trust in his father, and the overwhelming love he sensed in his voice, which he had come to recognize through their frequent exchanges.

When they got home, the boy asked if there was anything harder he could do, knowing that the simple tasks just didn't compensate well enough to obtain the bike in any short amount of time. "Well, you are quite little, I don't know if you can handle stacking wood." "No, I'll do it!" Off they went. The father spent copious amounts of time patiently showing the boy how to stack wood. At first the father did almost all of the work. Because he was doing it through the boy, it took much longer and required a lot more effort than if he had done it himself. But this was not for the wood, it was for the boy. After a few days practice, the father decided to give the boy a chance to do it on his own. After an hour, he went to check on his boy. The wood pile was not correct. He knelt beside his son and explained how improperly stacked wood couldn't be stacked very high, and would topple over and could hurt others. The boy was frustrated that he had wasted so much time (an hour is an eternity to a boy) and would have to redo the wood pile.  But, he loved his dad, and trusted him, so he obeyed. He improved his lack of knowledge and was given pointers along the way. After weeks of practice, and a little growing up, the boy learned how to heft pieces of wood, and how to stack them so they wouldn't fall. His father paid him more than he would have received on the small jobs.

And so it went, the father patiently teaching the son new skills, and the son rising up to the instructions of his father. It was a long journey, but eventually the son earned enough money to purchase the bike. On that day, the father was surprised at calm demeanor of the boy, now a young man. He said, "son, we've worked so hard for years for you to get that bike. You've really earned this. I really thought you would be more excited than this..." "Dad," the son replied, with an air of maturity beyond his years, "the bike is nice, but I hope I can still work with you. I think I like the idea of working with you more than I do riding this bike by myself..."

"For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance;
 Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven;" (D&C 1:31-32)

*intentionally named