On the Lord's side

For the bus, the hill was almost more than it could endure.

It wasn't that the hill was so steep, rather it was that the bus was so old; its cracked windows, rusty floor and dented sides attested to that.What's more, the bus was full of Mexico City commuters.

So it was a given that the bus would not actually stop at the next stop. Pragmatism and practice saw to that. Pragmatically, if the bus stopped, it couldn't continue up the hill. It simply didn't have the power to restart on the incline. And, as a matter of course, no one expected it to stop. It lumbered up that hill so slowly that passengers found it easy and convenient to simply jump off at the appropriate locale.

Which is exactly what the two missionaries were accustomed to doing.

But tonight brought just a little surprise.

A little worn from a day of proselyting, but buoyed by a parcel of homemade food given them by a generous Church member, the two were headed home. Elder Lewis' companion jumped off first. Elder Lewis, one hand carrying that night's dinner and one hand carrying his backpack containing his scriptures, went next.

Well, at least, most of him went next.

As Elder Lewis jumped, his pant leg, probably the cuff, got caught on the bus door. It tore - all the way up to his knee - as he jumped, but didn't dislodge. It was stuck.

And so was Elder Lewis - stuck with both hands full, one foot on the moving bus and another foot hopping forward along the ground.

While neither life nor limb was in danger, the elder's ego was.

"The people on the bus were laughing and wondering what this crazy North American was doing."

The predicament gave-way to some serious thinking.

"Do I throw away tonight's dinner?"

"Do I throw away the backpack and risk losing my scriptures?"

"Do I try to rip the pant leg loose?"

"Do I try to jump back on the bus?"

With little deliberation, he made his decision: Elder Lewis hopped back on the bus, sat down, put down the food and backpack, unhooked his torn pant leg, grabbed his goods and jumped - cleanly this time - off the bus.

Dinner was intact. The scriptures hadn't been sacrificed. All was well.

But the brief experience of being neither on nor off the bus re-taught and reinforced a well-known and yet profound truth:

Those who call themselves disciples cannot be fence sitters. We cannot be half in and half out. Living the gospel is a full-time commitment.

To wit:

"He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad." (Matt. 12:30.)

"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:15-16.)

In this dispensation, the Lord said that those who "embark in the service of God (must) serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength." (See D&C 4:2.)

Another scriptural notion on the subject seems to move a little beyond the direct admonitions above. Though somewhat more subtle than they, the idea is, nevertheless, ever-so-powerful:

"Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days." (D&C 64:34.)

It would seem that the Lord requires our heart because He knows what happens when our focus is elsewhere. If our "hearts are set so much upon the things of this world and aspire to the honors of men" we will forget the fundamental principles of righteousness. (See D&C 121:35-36.)

The logic is sound. When we attempt to keep one foot firmly in the things of the world, we will, by necessity, pull the other away from the things of God.

Apparently we just can't have it both ways.

In sum, it seems to boil down to a simple choice, one that the Old Testament prophet Joshua made abundantly clear:

"Choose you this day whom ye will serve; . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Josh. 24:15)

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