Monday, July 8, 2013

FHE Lesson - The Parable of the Mouse

Late in 2012, in Winchester, Tennessee, missionaries organized a community Family Home Evening (FHE) group. Winchester was part of the Tullahoma Ward. But it a little far from Winchester to Tullahoma (15 miles). Far enough that investigators were generally unwilling to go the distance. So a FHE group was born. It was popular and grew quickly. In April 2013 a branch was organized in Winchester with over 150 people attending.

With their example as an inspiration, the missionaries in our little town had decided this could be replicated. Last month we started meeting at a local park and so far are averaging about 40 people a week. Many people who would not come to church because it is 30 miles away have been showing up for the FHE group. This week is my turn for the lesson. So in lieu of my regular post, I am posting my lesson for tonight.

[I start my lesson with asking some volunteers, some of the wiggly children, to hold up three signs for me which read Belief, Faith, and Knowledge]

Today I want to share with you the parable of the mouse.

I have a pantry in my kitchen. It is nothing more than a closet really. But I keep in it food we use to prepare meals for my family. On the bottom shelf I keep some snacks that my kids can use to prepare their own lunches for school. Not long ago I opened my pantry doors to discover that some of the snack bags had little holes in them. Pieces of the contents were scattered on the pantry floor; some of them with the appearance that they had been nibbled on by little teeth. I believed we had a mouse. [ask the wiggly child holding the "believe" sign to squeak like a mouse]

I believed it enough that I was willing to announce that to my wife. Here I placed my reputation on the line. I risked ridicule if I were wrong, but little more. Yes, I had faith that we had a mouse, but that faith only went so far. Just how much faith can be shown by how much I would risk. But my faith was greater than just that. After disposing of the ruined food, and cleaning the bottom of the pantry, I took the next step. I bought mouse traps. My faith in the existence of the mouse was now a little greater. I risked spending some money on the traps, placing peanut butter on the trigger as bait, and setting them around the food. [ask the wiggly child holding the "faith" sign what bait he would use for the traps]

 * What else did I risk when I put out the traps? 

The next morning I inspected my traps. But I was disappointed. There was no dead mouse. Was my failure to catch a mouse proof that the mouse did not really exist? Although I exercised faith unto the setting of traps, I did not receive a witness to the truthfulness of the mouse. Well, not the witness I wanted. Something was licking the peanut butter off the traps. It was enough confirmation to make me try again. But not enough to change my faith into knowledge. It was still faith. 

  * Why do we need faith? What can faith help us learn that knowledge cannot?

Not long after that my wife gained a sure knowledge of the truthfulness of the mouse. Although I had not seen the mouse, I had even more faith because of the testimony of my wife. [ask the wiggly child holding the "knowledge" sign if he has ever seen a mouse]

With greater faith in its existence, I placed poison for the mouse. Now was the greater risk. There was a danger that the dead mouse would become food for my pets, with disastrous results. Plus this was where I kept my food. I was not happy about having poison anywhere near my children's lunch supplies. Soon, however, there were no more packages of food with little holes or trails of mouse droppings. Another confirmation, but still I just had faith. It only became knowledge for me when we found the dead mouse a few weeks later while cleaning out another closet.

Faith is only faith if we are willing to take a risk. We can believe in the restoration of the gospel, but until we take a risk, it is not faith. And what risks do we take? The scriptures tell us to have faith unto repentance. We repent because we have faith that Jesus will forgive our sins. We can have faith enough to get baptized, the come to church, to share the gospel message with our friends. We may not always have our faith rewarded the way we want it to be. But when it is, our faith will have the opportunity to grow. Eventually, perhaps not in this life, our faith will become knowledge. Then we will need faith no more.

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