School of life

Ryan is 2 years old.

That means he's kind, sweet, innocent, inquisitive — and just plain fun to be around. And, of course, he's active, strong-willed and, sometimes, childish.

Clearly, a 2-year-old can be a handful. But, on balance, they're wonderful little things to have around.

Trying from an adult perspective to get inside a toddler's mind can be perplexing. What, an adult might wonder, is that child thinking?

But, speaking of thinking, think about what it must be like for our Heavenly Father, when, from His perspective, we mortal adults act like, well, children.

Oh sure, we don't often see it that way. But our children don't often see it that way either.

One early summer day, Ryan's grandfather — Papa — took Ryan for a hike on a gently sloping, sometimes-paved mountain trail along a small stream. They walked, talked and looked at flowers, butterflies and even a harmless water snake. They dangled their feet from a low bridge into the cool stream. Papa, for his part, had a great time. And he's pretty sure Ryan did, too.

But Papa was a little perplexed when Ryan suddenly scooped mud and pebbles from the streambed and into his mouth. And Ryan was a little upset when Papa scooped the rocks from his mouth.

Papa knew that mud and pebbles neither tasted good nor were nutritious. But Ryan might well have seen something cool and wet for his hot, dry mouth.

When Papa makes a mistake, he's supposed to learn. If we mortals live long enough and learn well enough, we can make pretty good progress along the road to eternal life.

When Ryan makes mistakes, he, too, can learn. As he matures, we can be quite certain that mud and rocks won't be a regular part of his diet.

But what if they were? What if Ryan decided, with his vast years of mortal wisdom, that eating mud and rocks was a good thing? What if he decided that Papa's 50 years on earth meant nothing and that Ryan was far more mature — and intelligent — than his grandfather?

Well, for one thing, that would mean that Ryan was behaving a lot like too many of Papa's peers, those folks who think they are so mature and so intelligent that they needn't heed the advice of their Heavenly Father.

Given Ryan's mortal age and life experience, eating mud and rocks made perfect sense. Given Papa's mortal age and life experience, the move was silly.

In that context, then, think of all the "intelligent and mature" things we mortal adults do that, given His omniscience, our Heavenly Father might view as silly — or sinful.

Some of us mortals think we're so intelligent that we no longer need God's prophets to help us navigate life. Some of us think we're so mature that we're beyond needing God's commandments. Some of us think we're so nimble that we can dabble on the fringes of evil and still remain pure. Some of us think we're so insightful that we can sin — because we've decided that it isn't sinning.

But, like a 2-year-old putting rocks and mud in his mouth, how silly (or shortsighted or even stupid) that must seem to our Heavenly Father.

Ryan has been enrolled in the mortal school of life for a very short time. His mortal learning is barely at preschool level. He puts rocks and mud in his mouth because he doesn't know any better.

Papa has been enrolled in the eternal school of life for a longer time. His eternal education should be at least at a university level. If Papa sins, he knows better.

Blessed is the Papa — or any mortal — who can become as meek and submissive as a little child — without become childish.

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