Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Little Things and Grace

The little things...

This morning I went to Wal-Mart. After paying for my items and loading the bags into the car I noticed a two-pack of baby socks that had been at the bottom of the cart, under the diaper bag. I hadn't paid for them so I quickly ran them back into the store and told the clerk what had happened.

I don't tell this little story to pat myself on the back. I tell it because it reminded me of an experience I had a while back. A few years ago, when we were getting ready to move from Fargo to Ririe, I stopped by the video store to see if we had any overdue charges that I needed to pay. The clerk looked at me funny and I explained that we were moving and I wanted to make sure my debts were paid before we left. I laughed a little and said, “I don't want to get to Heaven and then not be allowed in because of a $2 fine at the video store in Fargo, North Dakota.” The clerk remarked that he hoped we wouldn't be kept out of Heaven for something so small.

I don't want to start a religious debate, this isn't the proper forum for that (is there ever a proper forum for arguing about religion? Discussion, for sure, but never arguing, but that's another topic for another day). Anyway, I'll state my beliefs so you can know where I'm coming from … I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons. I do believe in the saving grace of our Savior, Jesus Christ. It is because of His grace that we will be saved and receive exaltation in the Kingdom of Heaven. Furthermore, I believe what it says in 2 Nephi 25:23, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” After all we can do we are saved by grace. Picture a ladder that is only tall enough to get within several feet of the ceiling. I can climb the ladder but I will never get to the ceiling. That is where grace comes in. Grace is what gets us from the top rung of the ladder to the ceiling - after we have climbed the ladder.

I thought about it back in Fargo, I've thought about it since and I thought about it again this morning. What is going to keep me out of Heaven – or allow me to go in? I do truly believe that it is the little things. The clerk might have been right in that one little thing won't keep me out, but what about a lot of little things. There's a very slim chance that I will ever have millions of “extra” dollars with which I can open a school for girls in Africa (a la Oprah), rebuild half of New Orleans (a la Brad and Angelina), or even be rich enough to donate to a university to build a gymnasium or science center. Most days we don't even have enough "extra" cash to help an underprivileged Boy Scout go to Scout Camp

So what do I do? If I can't do big things, how about the little things? How about letting the person with two items go ahead of me in line at the grocery store? What about helping the sweet older lady pick up the change that fell out when she opened her wallet the wrong way? Picking up a piece of trash that blew across my path in the parking lot? Smiling to an elderly gentlemen who is sitting on a bench? Making my husband's favorite dessert? Taking a plate of cookies to the neighbor? Staying to visit for a minute when it seems like they want to talk? Holding a baby (screaming or not) for a mother so she can have a minute of quiet to listen during church? Entertaining a child on an airplane flight or in a meeting, even if I only have a watch, a piece of paper and a pen with which to entertain them? I think that all of these little things will add up, like rungs on the ladder, to help me do my part. It's just like little Hershey's kisses. Eat enough of them and the calorie total will be the same as a king sized Hershey's bar.

Mosiah 2:17 says, “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” When I do any (all?) of these little things, I am not only serving those here on earth, I am serving God, too.

I've read and reread this post so many times that I don't know if it makes sense anymore. It's just what's been on my mind as I've cut, chopped and sauteed about a million bell peppers and onions for the chili that will be served at the blood drive tomorrow. (I hate bell peppers and onions so I had to keep my mind occupied - haha.) At the very least, it's something to think about....