The lesson can be found here.

Note: This was supposed to be a stellar lesson this week.  However, stake business (an upcoming Aaronic Priesthood conference), talk of a winter camp out either this Friday or in February plus discussion over the highly anticipated Mutual activity (with the Deacons in charge) dominated most of the time.  The lesson given was a breakdown of Moses 1:39, and what it all meant.  Here’s the lesson I wanted to give.

Honestly, this lesson felt a bit hokey.  The note about what to focus on in the lesson states:

The purpose of this lesson is to help each young man feel that he is an important son of his Father in Heaven. Not all young men have thought about God’s tender care for them, and it is your charge to inspire that awareness and help each young man fulfill the priesthood responsibilities his Father has given him.

Yup. Hokey. It’s probably part of the age, but as of last week, my boys told me their main concerns were “Guns. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Communists. Nuclear War. Pizza.” In that order too, I think

That’s right. They’re 12. I don’t think many of them worry themselves to sleep over their place in the universe. However, kudos to the manual for at least engrossing me with the opening story.

A father and his son were camping together. The campfire had gone down, and the night was cool and clear as they looked up at the countless stars. The father asked, “What are you thinking about, son?”

“Oh, I was just wondering. It all seems so overwhelming. Those stars go forever. I was just wondering why it is that, if God could make those suns and stars and other worlds, one person—like me—would mean anything to him.”

His father smiled and said, “King David wondered the same thing when he wrote, ‘What is man, that thou art mindful of him?’ (Psalm 8:4). It’s because we are his sons.”

I’m reminded of working in West Yellowstone, MT. My wife and I, right after we married, took a semester from school and went to work at her aunt and uncle’s restaurant waiting tables. Our days started at about 10:00 AM, and some nights we didn’t get out until 11:00 PM. I’d never lived in an area with no city lights, and as we would drive 10-15 miles out to her aunt and uncle’s house, I would be amazed at the stars. It really is an experience that lets you know how small you are in the universe.

Moses 1:39 was the scripture I wanted to focus on. To me, God is saying that His whole eternal existence is for us.  His work and His glory is based around us.  Wow.

Given all that background, I think the desire of the lesson is to help the boys develop a relationship with God. I didn’t think that far ahead when I was 12. I refer to the above-mentioned concerns of the boys (especially “Communists”). I think that the most important thing is to sew the seeds now. That’s why the story by Hugh B. Brown was so effective to me.

I remember my mother said to me when I went to go on my mission … : ‘My boy, you are going a long ways away from me now. Do you remember,’ she said, ‘that when you were a little lad you used to have bad dreams and get frightened? Your bedroom was just off mine, and frequently you would cry out in the night and say, “Mother, are you there?” And I would answer, “Yes, my boy, I’m here—everything is all right. Turn over and go to sleep.” You always did. Knowing that I was there gave you courage.

“ ‘Now,’ she said, ‘you will be about 6,000 miles away, and though you may cry out for me I cannot answer you.’ She added this: ‘There is one who can, and if you call to Him, He’ll hear you when you call. He will respond to your appeal. You just say, “Father, are you there?” and there will come into your heart the comfort and solace such as you knew as a boy when I answered you.’

“I want to say to you young people that many times since then in many and varying conditions I have cried out, ‘Father, are you there?’ I made that plea when in the mission field we were mobbed almost every night, driven from place to place. We were beaten, expelled from cities, our lives threatened. Every time before I went out to those meetings I would say, ‘Father, are you there?’ And though I didn’t hear a voice and I didn’t see His person, I want to tell you young people He replied to me with the comfort and assurance and testimony of His presence” (“Father, Are You There?” [address given at Brigham Young University, 8 Oct. 1967], pp. 5–6).

I think the roaming mob might meet the qualifications the boys set above for things they are concerned about (guns…or perhaps Communists). I think it’s a good story. But my story concerned my experiences on my mission about feeling alone. Absolutely, horribly, wretchedly alone. I was having companionship issues. My mission president and I were bashing heads on a daily basis (which I would not disclose to the boys). And one day I woke up, went through the day, and my soul seemed black. Like a dementor had sucked the happiness out of me (yes, I would have used that example as well). When we got home, it wasn’t any better. I prayed. I pleaded. I poured my heart out to my Father, who I knew was there, but wasn’t sure if He was listening. I prayed for a long, long time that night.

When I woke up the next morning, the sun seemed to be the brightest thing in my day. I felt as though 500 lbs had been lifted from me. I felt happier than I did when I started my mission. And then I knew. I knew He was there, and listened.
How would you have taught the lesson?

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