If I asked my son to go clean his room, what is it that I expect? Do I expect he will go upstairs and sit in the room and contemplate ways he could clean it? Do I want him to go with his brother and discuss the merits of cleaning? Do I want him to journal and illustrate a picture of him cleaning his room? No, I just want him to go and clean.
I have had this analogy floating in my head for a few weeks now. Every day I wake up and teach my children. Every Sunday I have a group of 60+ children to teach. Every day I try to learn a little more myself. And yet, too often, we get caught up in the teaching part and stop one step short of what really counts: the application.
I read about the gospel. I discuss the ideas in the scriptures. I dissect others' dissertations on the subject. I engage in philosophical conversations. I write and ponder and write some more.
I teach about the gospel. I read scripture passages and help children memorize verses. I strip away the difficult language and share simple concepts. I encourage understanding and help them remember what they are learning with visual aids and interactive games.
But this...all this...is a dead gospel. It is the study of ideas written thousands of years ago. It is reading a book and knowing its stories and becoming a scholar.
It is not the gospel in action.
There is life in what I believe, if I remember that that is the most important part of it all. My personality is such that I would happily lock myself away in a dusty library to learn Hebrew and Greek and read scripture passages until I knew them by heart and be able to give lectures on the historical figures. My mind comes alive in this kind of debating, but it makes my heart die.
Each morning I want to wake up and metaphorically "clean my room." I think it might be a new mantra for me, something to whisper to my soul throughout the day. "I don't have time to read scripture because 2 minutes isn't enough to really get into it." Just clean your room. "I can't stop what I'm doing because this must get done right now." Just clean your room. "Walk briskly so you don't have to deal with the anxiety of talking with people you don't know well." Just clean your room. "I could implement this idea, and that, and more of this, with my family and my children." Just clean your room.
I am more blessed than I can really understand. I have so much, while others have so little. I know joy and peace woven throughout the daily moments of my life, while others have heartache, pain, anger, loss. I literally have no wants. None at all. The things that I set myself to worry about aren't worth the effort it takes to worry about them. Instead, with a little perspective, I can slow down and stop being this little ant running around, moving small bits of dirt back and forth. I can just clean my room.