He’s just a kid.
You’ve watched him as a paper boy, flinging November’s news like touchdown footballs at your porch, only to be intercepted by a puddle or a shrub.
In July, you’ve heard him mow a hundred lawns, the whir of blades hanging thick on the heat as he marches back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and still never gets done.
You’ve seen him with dirt on his face and holes in his jeans, pumping his rusty bicycle down the street. Or on an early morning, lugging milk out to the barn to feed a hungry calf. Or on a snowy day, carrying a blanket-bundled baby over the curbside slush so Mom won’t have to.
At the Boy Scout breakfast you huddled over his shoulder as he pushed mounds of steamy hash browns, turning and re-turning them to make sure they didn’t burn.
You’ve seen him in other settings, too.
He was at your side when the floods came, shoveling sand into bags. Despite the blisters on his hands, he was there again the next morning.
He’s been in your living room every month, sitting on the piano bench petting the dog, waiting for you to fill that stiff, blue, fast-offering envelope.
You’ve seen him with his hands stuffed into the pockets of his brand-new, first-ever, three-piece suit, talking over doctrine like a high priest with his home teaching companion, Brother Anderson, who is a high priest.
He was at the stake baptism Saturday night, all dressed in white, looking like a ministering angel. There was power in his voice as he said the simple prayer and gently guided his sister into the waters of baptism.
You’ve seen him other times, Sundays, kneeling at a table in the front of the chapel, his voice half trembling, half resonant, as he offers another prayer of the most sacred kind, an appeal that the Lord will bless and sanctify the bread and water.
Look at the young man. Take a moment to think about someone you may take too much for granted.
He could be a 12-year-old, passing the sacrament reverently, carefully, anything but calmly, nearly dying when the tray ends up on the wrong side of the row and he has to march up empty-handed. Or perhaps he’s 14, blushing when the bishop calls him to the stand to run an errand. Maybe he’s 16, and finding out his voice still cracks with emotion as he tells his seminary class about reading the Book of Mormon. Or maybe he’s almost 19, soon to be ordained an elder, soon to be peering deep inside the mailbox every day to see if his mission call has yet arrived.
Yes, he’s a boy. He’s still learning, still growing, still discovering himself, still discovering life. But in the eyes of God, he’s every inch a hero.
He’s about the age Joseph Smith was when he had his first vision, the age Samuel was when he heard the voice of the Lord, the age the Savior was when he taught the wise men in the temple. He’s a young man trusted by God with an awesome responsibility and power.
Through the Aaronic Priesthood, he is assigned to administer the outward ordinances of the gospel. He is a servant of God, an heir to the kingdom. He holds “the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins” (JS—H 1:69). He is “to warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ” (D&C 20:59).
Someday this son of Aaron will be a son of Moses, too. For now he holds the lesser priesthood, the preparatory priesthood. But if he is faithful and true, he will someday hold the higher priesthood, the very force by which the worlds are and were created.
He is on the path of preparation that leads to full-time missionary service, to eternal marriage in the temple, to lifelong service as a father and a priesthood leader, to eventual exaltation in the celestial realms. Righteously exercising the priesthood, he has, and will continue to have, the authority to act in the name of God.
Yes, he is just a young man. He loves to go jogging with that scruffy dog chasing beside him. He always wants to shoot “just a few more” baskets before he weeds the garden. He may even have to be reminded to schedule in some time to be with the family.
But more than anything else, he is a son of God. He is on His errand. And he will be blessed with power from on high.