Judgment Days

Her lamb’s condition left her feeling sheepish, but determined to live a blue-ribbon life of her own.

The day of the county fair had arrived, and my lamb was smaller than I wanted it to be. Weigh-in was at noon, and I scrubbed, carded, and clipped my lamb. At least it looked good.

I breathed a sigh of relief as my lamb barely made weight!

This was my fourth show lamb. I felt confident because my lambs usually placed near the top. Yet a thought nagged me. I hadn’t been as serious about my project this time.

Other years I’d walked my lamb at least once a day, and rarely did anyone else feed it. This summer it had been easy to let my dad or sister pour it some grain and throw it some hay. There had been many days that I hadn’t even taken it out of the pen.

As the show began, the judge started lining the lambs up according to quality and conditioning. I realized that mine was at the wrong end of the line. When I received a red ribbon for the first time in my life, I realized how serious this was.

A special junior livestock auction for blue-ribbon animals is held each year. Community members come and buy the animals for as much as $3.50 per pound. But my red ribbon meant I couldn’t sell my lamb there this year. At a regular auction, I couldn’t hope for more than 45 cents per pound. That would be about 45 dollars total, when I’d paid 80 for it in the spring!

All my excitement tumbled into disappointment. I asked myself, “Would it have been different if I’d walked my lamb more faithfully? Would half a can of grain at noon each day have made a difference?” If I’d only known, I’d have tried harder and been more serious.

I pictured another day of judgment, when I would give the Savior an account of my life. I wondered how I’d feel on that day if I hadn’t lived worthy of a “blue ribbon.” What if I hadn’t paid the price to be all that I could be?

Suddenly, I wanted to more consistently read the scriptures, say my prayers, and stand for truth and righteousness. I wanted to be more compassionate, and more refined.

I didn’t want to stand before Jesus knowing that I wasn’t as finished and conditioned as he expected me to be.

I resolved I would never forget my day at the fair, nor would I ever forget that I was working towards another day of judgment—one with eternally greater significance and importance. I determined that day to pay the price.

[illustration] Illustrated by Greg Newbold