By Leslie Neilson
“This is the last time,” Jacob thought. “Then I’ll go to sleep.” He pulled the blankets over his body—from the top of his head to the very tips of his toes. Jacob held his breath and counted—“one, two, three”—then poked his head out like a turtle. He had been practicing for a whole week, getting ready for his big day.
“Jacob, are you still awake?” Mom whispered.
Jacob grinned. “Yes, I was just practicing again.”
Mom bent over his bed and tucked the blankets around him. “Good night,” she said with a smile.
The next morning at breakfast Jacob rested his chin in his hands.
“What’s wrong?” Dad asked.
“Well, I’m just not sure if I’m ready to be baptized,” Jacob said. “What if I make a mistake?”
“Jacob, everyone makes mistakes. What’s important is that we keep trying to do our best. Do you have a testimony of the Savior?”
“Yes, but I’m afraid I’ll forget everything. I want everything to be perfect for my special day.”
“I’m happy that you’re taking this seriously, Jacob. Getting baptized is an important step.”
Jacob sighed. “I want to be good, but how can I be good all the time? How can I be like Jesus? He was perfect.”
“Remember the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost?” Dad asked. “It can speak to our hearts and help us in a very direct way.”
Jacob nodded. “It gives you a warm feeling inside, like when Mom covers me with my blankets.”
Dad smiled. “That’s right. Did you know that when you are baptized you can have the influence of the Holy Ghost with you all the time?”
Jacob sat up straight. “Really?”
“Yes,” Dad said. “But remember, it’s important that you try and do what is right, and the Holy Ghost can help you.”
“I can do that!” Jacob said. He jumped up from the table and wrapped his arms around Dad’s neck. “Thanks, Dad.”
That day at school Jacob tried to do his best. He helped his teacher erase the chalkboard, but he accidentally knocked a whole box of chalk onto the floor. He ate lunch with a boy who always sat alone, but Jacob accidentally tripped and slopped his spaghetti onto the boy’s lap. He even said hi to Max, a boy who wasn’t very nice to him. There was no doubt about it—doing his best was hard work!
After school Jacob dragged himself into the house and dropped his backpack on the floor. “Hi, Mom,” he said with a groan.
“Hi! How was school today?”
Jacob hung his head. “Well, I tried my best, but I guess my best isn’t good enough,” he said sadly. He explained about the dropped chalk and the spaghetti spill. “I want to be the best I can before I’m baptized, but it’s hard sometimes!”
Mom wrapped her arms around Jacob and gave him a squeeze. “Jacob, accidentally spilling or dropping something isn’t a sin. You do need to be careful, but what’s important is that you’re trying to do what’s right. Heavenly Father loves you and is happy when His children try their best to live righteously.”
Before going to bed that night, Jacob knelt down to pray. “Heavenly Father, I’m worried,” he said. “I want to get baptized, but I’m afraid I’m not good enough. Please help me to know when the time is right.”
Jacob felt his body tingle. He felt warm inside. Suddenly, he wasn’t so worried anymore. He felt calm and peaceful.
The next day at school Jacob heard a voice bellow, “Hey, Jacob!”
Jacob knew that voice. He tried to hide, but it was no use; he had already been spotted. Suddenly he was standing face to face with Max.
Max stared at Jacob and crossed his arms. “What do you want from me? No one ever says hi to me. Did someone dare you?”
Jacob shrugged. “I was just trying to be nice. I’m getting baptized.”
“Baptized?” Max asked.
Jacob shuffled his feet nervously. He wasn’t sure how to explain baptism. He said a silent prayer in his mind. “Baptism is when we make special promises to Heavenly Father. We promise to try and keep the commandments. Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to be good.”
“How do you know?” Max asked.
“I know because He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins.”
Max shot out a bunch of questions. “Can anyone be baptized? Where is Jesus now? When—”
Jacob laughed. “Slow down. I can’t answer all your questions, but I know some missionaries who can.” Jacob took a deep breath. A thought whispered in his heart and he asked, “Max, would you like to come to my baptism?”
Two weeks later the day of Jacob’s baptism arrived. He changed into white clothing at the church and neatly combed his hair. Dad dressed in white too. Jacob’s family, friends, and Max sat waiting. Jacob stepped down into the warm water. He looked at his new friend Max and smiled. He held Dad’s hand, closed his eyes, and listened to the baptismal prayer. Once again he held his breath, but this time it was for real. The water rushed over his body, and then he rose up from the water. He took his first breath and smiled. He knew that Heavenly Father was happy with him for trying his best.
“Precious truth comes a small piece at a time through faith. … The Lord intends it be that way so that we can mature and progress.”
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 88.