“It’s Really Simple”

By Patricia Reece Roper

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A true storyWherefore, hear my voice and follow me (D&C 38:22).

Jake stared unhappily at his Primary teacher while she gave the lesson. He knew that she didn’t know that he was upset, because she kept smiling at him. It wasn’t that he didn’t like his teacher. The problem was that he didn’t like the lesson. It was about how we can follow the prophet. The more she taught, the sadder he became. Finally he raised his hand and asked, “Why do they always want us to do such hard things?”

Sister Roper looked confused. “I’m not sure I know what you mean.”

Jake sighed deeply. How could he explain it? “I just don’t know why we have to do so many hard things. How are we supposed to follow the prophet? We’re not big enough yet.”

“Well, yes, you are,” Sister Roper told him. “Jesus even said that all of us should try to be like little children, so you must be able to do things right.”

Jake looked at the other children in the class. They didn’t seem to know what he meant, either. “But it’s just too hard to remember everything,” Jake explained. “And I can’t do what older people do.”

Sister Roper thought for a minute, then said, “I think I know what you mean, Jake. And if you listen really closely, I’ll tell you a story that might help.”

Jake and the other children shuffled in their seats for a moment until they were comfortable. They liked to hear Sister Roper’s stories.

“Is it a true story?” Jake asked.

Sister Roper nodded. “A few years ago, when my son Micah was your age, we had a similar lesson in Sharing Time. We were talking about how we can follow Heavenly Father. The counselor in the Primary presidency had a big banner in front of the Primary room. She told the children to raise their hands when they thought of a way to follow Heavenly Father. Then she would write their answers on the banner.

“The children began giving wonderful answers, like ‘Read your scriptures’ and ‘Say your prayers’ and ‘Be a good example.’ Micah raised his hand, and when the counselor called on him, he said, ‘Brush your teeth.’”

Jake laughed with the other children in the class. “How can that show that you’re following Heavenly Father?” he asked.

Sister Roper was laughing, too. “You know, I think we all wondered that. I thought that Micah hadn’t been paying attention. Poor Micah! Everyone was laughing, and I could tell that he was really embarrassed. He looked like he was ready to cry. I know that he was sorry that he had raised his hand.”

“Did everyone stop laughing then?” Lisa asked.

“Well,” Sister Roper went on, “there were still a few snickers, but almost everyone stopped. The great lesson that I learned that day came when the counselor said, ‘Very good, Micah. We do show Heavenly Father that we love Him when we take care of the bodies that He has blessed us with. I’m glad you thought of that.’

“No one was laughing while she wrote ‘Brush your teeth’ on the banner. I looked at Micah, and he was happily beaming. I was glad the counselor had helped both him and the rest of us see that his answer really was correct.”

“But does that really show Heavenly Father that we love Him?” Jake asked.

“Absolutely,” Sister Roper replied. “That’s what I learned that day. We don’t have to make following Heavenly Father by following His prophet’s counsel something hard. It’s as simple as brushing our teeth. We just obey and do what’s right. They don’t ask us to do anything that we can’t do. It’s really simple—just obey.”

“But what if he asks us to do something hard?” Jake was still worried.

Sister Roper cocked her head to one side as she carefully thought how to answer. “If you study it over in your mind, I think you’ll find that there isn’t anything really hard that we are asked to do. Is it too hard to say nice things? Or go to church? Or pay our tithing?”

Jake thought for a minute, then shook his head.

“I think you’re right,” Sister Roper said and smiled. “Following the prophet is like brushing our teeth in another way, too—we need to remember to do it.”

Jake sighed happily. He felt as if a heavy backpack had been lifted off his shoulders. He was grateful to learn that following the prophet wasn’t a problem. “Teacher?” Jake raised his hand as another thought came to his mind.

“Yes, Jake?”

“Does that mean we follow the prophet in lots of little ways? You know, doing little things like picking up a pencil someone drops, or answering the telephone politely, or waving at our neighbor?”

“That’s a great question, Jake,” Sister Roper told him. “What do you think?”

Jake thought for a minute, then nodded. “I think ‘yes.’”

“And I think,” Sister Roper concluded, “that if we start with little things and keep working and working at it, whatever the prophet asks us to do will be simple. Even if we are asked to leave our homes and move to the desert, like the early Saints who went to the Salt Lake Valley in Utah, we can do it. If we follow the prophet with the little things and take a step at a time, we can always do it.”

President James E. Faust

Most of us think that the price of discipleship is too costly and too burdensome. … But [it] is not as heavy as it appears to be because we acquire through obedience a much greater strength to carry it:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30).

What is the cost of discipleship? It is primarily obedience. … It is a price worth paying, considering that the great promise of the Savior is for peace in this life and eternal life in the life to come. It is a price we cannot afford not to pay.
President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency (Ensign, April 1999, page 4.)

Illustrated by Jenel Hodson