The Teaching Of A Slothful Son


I grew up in a loving home where my parents gave us children enough chores around the house to learn about the benefits of hard work. My personal chores consisted of the typical duties of most children. I was required to make my bed, keep my shared bedroom relatively clean, and do the dishes once in a while. The two dreaded assignments I had were to clean the bathroom located next to my room and mow the lawn during the summer months. I shared the mowing duties with my brother. We both hated to mow the lawn and dreaded so doing. Oft times, as my Dad would leave for work he would remind us that we needed to mow the lawn that day. My brother and I would promise him we would. However, summertime being what it is, there were just too many other things to occupy the time and attention of a young boy. Consequently, on more than one occasion, mowing the lawn took a backseat on my agenda. I had intentions to do it, but many times in the morning I would rationalize that I would do it later that afternoon. In the afternoon, the television beckoned with exciting shows of places I’d never seen before. Lost in the five-year mission of the Starship Enterprise, time would elude me until I would hear the distant roar of an engine. I would then leap off the comfortable couch and run to our home’s big picture window. There I would behold my Father, in his suit, pushing the lawn mower around the back yard. He had arrived from work and had seen that the lawn wasn’t mowed by his slothful sons. My guilt was intense and I would quickly run to grab a pair of sneakers and head out the door. I would hustle to where my Dad was mowing and he would smile as he took not one but two trips around the edge of the lawn as I waited. It was the second swatch he took that was so agonizing. The pain of my guilt-racked soul was almost more than I could take, and I have often thought since then, that my Dad took that extra trip around the yard to torture me with the “pains of a condemned man.” That extra trip around the yard intensified my desire to mow so that when he would hand me the mower I was in a bit of an internal frenzy. He always did it with a smile and never with a word of rebuke. It’s a funny thing about life’s great lessons; often they are learned in the most peculiar and simple situations.

I learned something from how my Dad handled a slothful son. I think he knew my heart was right, even if  my actions were not. He never got mad at me or yelled at me, or told me I was a worthless son. In fact, I don’t recall ever feeling “put down” by my Dad, then, or now. Perhaps that is why I have no problem in understanding why my Heavenly Father loves me, despite…!

“Oh, it is wonderful to know that our Heavenly Father loves us—even with all our flaws! His love is such that even should we give up on ourselves, He never will. We see ourselves in terms of yesterday and today. Our Heavenly Father sees us in terms of forever. Although we might settle for less, Heavenly Father won’t, for He sees us as the glorious beings we are capable of becoming. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of transformation. It takes us as men and women of the earth and refines us into men and women for the eternities.” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Great Commandment,” Liahona, Nov 2007, 28–31).

Heavenly Father does love each of us. He is patient, kind and generous! Sometimes He takes us the extra trip around the yard much like my Dad did with me, because He knows that it will enhance our learning and appreciation for life. He has great hope that, in time, we will come around. In the end, I never mowed the lawn because I was afraid of my Father. It was because I loved and respected him. It was because I knew he loved me and wanted the best for me. Likewise, following the commandments of our Heavenly Father out of fear is not the best way to live our lives. It’s so much more enjoyable and productive to do so out of love and respect.


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