The Small Decisions That Lead Us To Heaven Or Hell


Many years ago I received an urgent phone call from my brother. He requested a favor of me. The radiator on his car was badly leaking. He needed to go on a business appointment that was about sixty miles away and he wondered if he could switch cars with me. I told him that would be fine but that I had an appointment at the church that night and would his car make it to the church, which was about 10 miles from my office. He said it would, but that I would need to fill the radiator up just before I left. Later on that day he came by and switched cars. As he went out the door he told me that he had a jug full of water in the trunk of the car and that I could use it to fill the radiator. That day was extra busy and I didn’t get out of the office on time as planned. I was running late for an appointment as I hurried out the office door. I jumped into the car and took off for the church. I drove as fast as I could and as I pulled up to the church I could see that my appointment was already standing outside the door waiting. I quickly got out of the car, apologized for my lateness, opened the door and went in. About fifteen minutes later, in the middle of my interview, I heard a knock at the door. There stood a sister of the church with a panicked look on her face. “A car was on fire in the parking lot when I pulled up, so I ran into the church, got the fire extinguisher and sprayed down the car. I also called the fire department and they are on their way.” I couldn’t imagine whose car she could be talking about. I went outside to see the extent of the damage only to find my brothers car completely covered in gunk from the “spraying down,” it had received. Just then the fire engine pulled up and a fireman got off the truck and approached me. After a brief discussion, he surveyed the car, opened the hood and made the determination that the car was just “steaming” due to no water in the radiator. It was then that I remembered that I hadn’t put water in the car per the instruction of my brother. I felt embarrassed. I told him I had forgotten to put water into the car. He gave me a silly grin, and then walked off to the truck. I watched them leave the parking lot and then looked at the poor car, which was now covered in gook.

If I had followed the simple instructions of my brother, a small act wouldn’t have mushroomed into an embarrassingly huge problem that cost me half the night. In a message published in January of 2007, James E. Faust had this to say on the subject:

“C. S. Lewis, a Christian author, gave us a keen insight into devilish tactics. In a fictional letter, the master devil, Screwtape, instructs the apprentice devil Wormwood, who is in training to become a more experienced devil:

“You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. … It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. … Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

We shouldn’t be beating ourselves up over every little sin or omission. This can be counterproductive. However, we need to be careful to follow the instructions that we are given in our days by living prophets. We need to put the water in the radiator with the help of their guidance! The road of life really is paved with small decisions we make daily that can lead us safely to Heaven or Hell.

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