Today as the kids and I were packing to get ready for our trip to Idaho, I started debating about what to do on Sunday. It's Stake Conference there (for those of you who don't know, we have this conference twice a year and it's when all the members in the area meet together instead of in smaller groups like we do on other Sundays. There are usually hundreds of people there and our church leaders teach us). This time it is not going to be one of our usual Stake Conferences. It is going to be broadcast by satellite from Salt Lake and it will be for the whole region. They are usually very good and I really enjoy going to them. However, for some reason, the thought of dressing up the kids, taking them to a two hour meeting and all that will be involved with it just didn't sound appealing. I have been tired lately and I guess I wasn't in the right mood today. I expressed my feelings to Michael and he said to do whatever I wanted about it. I tried to tell myself that it wasn't that big of deal. People do it all the time and they are good people. It won't make me "bad". Growing up, I was taught that God comes first and we should ALWAYS try to do our best and choose the right. Today, however, I was putting that out of my mind. As I was in the middle of saying that maybe it wouldn't be that big of a deal, Olivia came running up to me. I looked into her eyes and the thought came to me, "What will I be teaching her and the others if I skip church? What example will I be setting for them?" They had all packed their church clothes without any question. They know on Sunday we go to church and for the most part, they enjoy it. They know the importance of learning about Jesus, keeping the Sabbath Day holy and making good choices. Yet here I was, their protector and teacher, questioning the importance of church attendance this weekend.
As I looked at Olivia, a talk from one of our leaders, Richard J. Maynes, came into my mind. I quoted it in my Sunday School class a few weeks ago and this afternoon it came back strong. He was talking about our responsibilities as parents to teach and lead by example, about how much influence we have over our children and what our actions can do. He quoted a poem by C.C. Miller titled "The Echo". It says:
’Twas a sheep not a lamb
That strayed away in the parable Jesus told,
A grown-up sheep that strayed away
From the ninety and nine in the fold.
And why for the sheep should we seek
And earnestly hope and pray?
Because there is danger when sheep go wrong:
They lead the lambs astray.
Lambs will follow the sheep, you know,
Wherever the sheep may stray.
When sheep go wrong,
It won’t take long till the lambs are as wrong as they.
And so with the sheep we earnestly plead
For the sake of the lambs today,
For when the sheep are lost
What a terrible cost
The lambs will have to pay.
What I do today, will affect my children for good or bad. I can be the sheep that leads my little lambs back to our Father in Heaven or I can be the sheep that causes the heavens to weep as I lead my little lambs astray. I can read the scriptures to them, take them to church, teach them of Jesus, and show them obedience. Or I can do the opposite and leave them without the guidance and direction that they will need to make it through this life here on earth.
These children that I have been blessed with are not really mine. They have been given to me from a very loving Father in Heaven. They are His children. It is my responsibility to see that I do all in my power to help them return home safely to Him.
In the Bible in Ephesians we are taught to "...bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." In the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi it says, "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophecy of Christ...that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord says, "But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth." All through the scriptures we are taught to teach our children, to be examples to them and to bring them back to live with God again.
This Sunday I am going to church. I want to live up to the stewardship that my Heavenly Father has given me in caring for his children. I want to be the kind of sheep to my little lambs that will lead them safely home.