Easy Answers

by David D. Harris

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    Living the gospel takes more than merely spouting …

    “Tillman dribbles downcourt. He’s double-teamed by O’Neal and Hardaway. Wow! Somehow he got free. Slam dunk! The crowd is going wild. Tillman comes up with a steal. He stops behind the three-point line. It’s good! Robert Tillman has single-handedly brought his team …”

    “What do you think, Robert?”

    “Uh, obey the commandments.”

    “Good. That is one thing you can do. Now, Sylvia, what else can you … ”

    Hah. Sunday School is the same every week. Every answer is “obey the commandments,” or “read the scriptures,” or “pray.” All I have to do is use one of those answers. No listening required. I’d rather be watching basketball anyway. Someday I’ll be playing professional basketball. Boy, I’ve got to practice more. But Mom wouldn’t let me play on Sunday anyway. I don’t know why she won’t let me. I go to church, so why can’t I have the rest of the day off …

    “Robert, do you have any ideas?”

    “Obey the commandments.”

    “That’s what Jerry said.”

    “Oh, I meant read the scriptures.”

    “Very good.”

    Man, this is so easy. The answers are so simple. I don’t need this. What I need is a math tutor so I don’t fail math. If I fail math, I won’t be eligible to play basketball. I have to play. If I don’t, it’ll rule out my chances of getting a scholarship. Without that, I can say good-bye to the pros. I thought the Holy Ghost was supposed to help me. And I need help with my homework. What have I done wrong? What am I supposed to do to get help from Heavenly Father? I don’t do anything wrong. I don’t drink or smoke. I don’t even have a girlfriend. I don’t swear. I wish someone would just tell me what I am supposed …

    “Brother Tillman. Please wake up and tell us what we can do to stay close to our Heavenly Father.”

    “Oh, sorry. How about pray?”

    “Very good, Robert.”

    Pray. That’s the answer to almost all the questions in this class. I wish math was as easy as this class. Sunday School is so easy, and I know all the answers. Pray. Obey the commandments. Read the scriptures. It’s easy. If I do all of those things, my problems will disappear. That means if I do all those things, I will get help with my math. Well, it hasn’t worked so far. I read the scriptures. Just today in priesthood, I read a scripture. President Hunter said to read the scriptures every day. Well, I don’t read every day, but … I guess I don’t read much at all. I have homework, basketball, my friends.

    I do everything else. I pray. At least I used to say my prayers every night. Sometimes when I stay up doing homework, I’m too tired to kneel down. In the morning, I don’t have time. I’d be late for school if I took time to say my prayers all the time. I’m sure Heavenly Father wouldn’t want to hear prayers from me when I’m tired. Well, maybe he would.

    I do keep all the commandments. I don’t kill, I don’t steal, and I don’t take the Lord’s name in vain. I keep the Sabbath day holy. Most of the time. Well, I suppose I do have some work to do there …

    “What would you say, Sylvia?”

    “Listen to the Holy Ghost.”

    “That’s right.”

    That makes sense. The answers to the questions are easy to say in class. They’re just words there. It’s life where it gets more difficult. There, you can’t just say the words. You have to put in the effort too. I guess I’ve never really thought about it that way before. I definitely need Heavenly Father’s help. I better get to work.

    Photography by Welden Andersen