Power


No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned (D&C 121:41).

“Take that!” Josh growled, jabbing the controller with his thumb and slamming a bad guy to the ground. Josh loved video games.

“Better get out of your school clothes,” Dad called. “We’re due at the priesthood preview in an hour. Your mother went to get Grandpa—they’ll meet us there.”

Josh switched off the game without the usual grumbling. “Great!”

He was clipping on his Sunday tie when Dad laid a large hand on his shoulder. “I’m glad you’re so excited about receiving the priesthood.”

“Who wouldn’t be?” Josh exclaimed. “Sister Burke says that priesthood is the power Jesus used to make the world. When I get part of that power, nobody had better mess with me!”

Dad cleared his throat. “Josh—”

“My friend Devin’s a deacon already,” Josh interrupted. “He says that I’ll have more power than the president of the United States, and he can launch missiles and order whole armies around.”

Dad sighed. “Josh, the power is the Lord’s. He’s given the priesthood to us so that we can serve others. We don’t use it to hurt people.”

“Not even bad guys?”

“Which of us is perfect?” Dad replied. “Let’s go sit at the kitchen table—I’d like you to read something in the Doctrine and Covenants.”

At the table, Dad pointed to a passage and Josh read it aloud, sounding out some of the harder words. “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love un-un—”

“Unfeigned,” Dad said. “It means genuine, not faked.”

“What good’s power if you have to be wimpy and weak to use it?”

“It doesn’t say wimpy and weak. It says gentle and meek.”

“Same thing.”

“Josh, will you come downstairs with me, please?”

Josh followed Dad into the basement storage room, where he rummaged through some boxes and pulled out a shiny trophy with a football player on top.

Josh’s eyes grew big. “An MVP award! And it has your name on it!”

Dad nodded. “I received this when I was a junior—the first junior ever to earn it at our school. I thought I was the toughest, meanest, most powerful seventeen-year-old on earth. I played on both sides of the ball, but I preferred defense because I really got to unload on people. I loved to hear the crowd cheer when I made a hit.”

Josh stroked the trophy lovingly. “Why isn’t this where everybody can see it?”

Dad shrugged and put the trophy back into the box. “It just doesn’t seem that important anymore. Maybe that’s because my senior year I got an award that taught me a lot more.” He opened his wallet and took out a plastic bracelet.

Josh looked it over. “It’s like the bracelet Mom wore in the hospital when she had Stacey. But this one has your name on it.”

Dad nodded. “I earned it in the homecoming game. I’d intercepted a pass on the other team’s twenty, and only one man was between me and the end zone. He was so small, I didn’t bother putting any moves on him. I just lowered my head and charged. When I came to, I was lying on the field, and, Josh, I couldn’t move! This big, tough, proud football player was lying there eating grass—crying like a baby and scared out of his mind.”

Josh didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t imagine his strong, calm father frightened and helpless. “What happened?” he asked at last.

“They strapped me to some kind of a contraption, carried me behind the stands, and put me into an ambulance. I could hear the crowd cheering, and I thought, They’re watching the game again. They’ve forgotten all about me.

“My father was out of town, so my mother rode in the ambulance with me. Brother Jones got in too. Besides Dad, he was the only Melchizedek Priesthood holder in our little town. He was also the math teacher at school, and I didn’t like him much. He was small and soft-spoken, and he called the students ‘ladies and gentlemen.’ We all laughed at him behind his back.

“My mother asked if he would give me a blessing, and he said, ‘I’d be honored.’ He anointed me with oil. Then he put his small hands on my head and told me that Heavenly Father knew me and loved me. He said that people in wheelchairs can still serve valiantly, but that I had some work to do on foot. He promised me that I would walk again.”

“And you did!”

“It turned out that my spinal cord was only bruised. My recovery took a long time, though, and it wasn’t much fun. No one was kinder or more helpful than Brother Jones. Sometimes he held me up while I learned to walk again, and I was amazed at the strength in his small hands. I began to understand that power doesn’t come just from muscles, that some heavy weights can be lifted only by kindness, gentleness, and love. Do you understand, son?”

Josh looked at his feet. “A little.”

Dad put the bracelet back into his wallet, and Josh followed him upstairs to the living room. Taking a picture of the Savior from the wall, Dad said, “On my last day of school, I hobbled into Brother Jones’s room and told him that I hoped to be as strong someday as he was. He smiled and handed me a graduation gift. ‘Thank you,’ he said, ‘but here’s a better example to follow.’ I unwrapped this picture. Since then I’ve studied the life of the Savior and done my best to follow his example.”

Dad handed the picture to Josh and got his Bible. “When Jesus was arrested, one of his disciples tried to defend him with a sword. Jesus said, ‘Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?’” *

Josh whistled. “Twelve legions! That’s a lot!”

“According to the Bible Dictionary, each Roman legion had some six thousand foot soldiers plus cavalry. If angel legions are about the same size, that would be more than seventy-two thousand angels.”

“Wow!” Josh exclaimed. “They could wipe out an army!”

Dad’s voice grew very serious. “Josh, he didn’t call for those legions. He let himself be whipped and spat upon and mocked and crucified. Instead of conquering men, he conquered death itself, even for those who had hurt him.”

“Wow!” Josh said again, softly this time.

Dad reached out and touched the picture. “The best power of all is the power to help and heal. Jesus has that power, and he’s willing to share it with those who love him and follow him. I think you’re one of those.”

Josh looked him in the eye. “I’ll try to be.”

“Good!” Dad said. “So will I. And now we’d better be on our way to the priesthood preview.”

[illustrations] Illustrated by Mark Robison