The “Little Things” and Eternal Life

(Adapted from an October 1981 general conference address. See Ensign, November 1981, pages 23–25.)

One extremely hot afternoon I was crossing the green agricultural lands of the pampas in Argentina. The sun had scorched the highway until heat waves were visible. Nevertheless, I was confident and comfortable because I had just purchased a brand-new car with a big motor and plenty of power to conquer the elements and allow me to travel briskly in air-conditioned comfort.

Suddenly I noticed that the temperature inside my new car had begun to climb and that the engine showed signs of strain. When the dashboard heat gauge reached the danger point, I pulled the car over to the side of the road in the hope that, with my very limited knowledge of mechanics, I could discover what was wrong. I was disappointed to think that something could disable my new car so soon.

After I had lifted the hood, I discovered, to my amazement, that a myriad of colorful little butterflies had collected on the radiator and stopped the cooling process. I was struck with the realization that the combined effect of a few hundred tiny butterflies mashed on the radiator had the ability to make the immense horsepower of the motor useless. No, it wasn’t something as obvious as an eagle or hawk striking it or an engine malfunction that had stopped the car—it was just a lot of little butterflies!

This incident made me think about what often happens in our own lives. I thought about the tremendous potential that exists in each of us, a potential that can direct us in our eternal lives.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, page 346.)

How many times do we allow little “butterflies” to reduce, restrain, or restrict our immense potential from guiding us to exaltation? Generally it is not the mighty eagle that defeats us, but the tiny “butterflies.”

[illustration] Illustrated by Ron Peterson