You're not ready for Zion if you won't even clean the building
On June 5, 1976, Idaho's Teton Dam broke, sending a massive wall of water fifteen feet high over the valley below. The 80 million gallons of water that rushed over Sugar City and Rexburg carried away houses, demolished businesses, and covered the whole community in a thick layer of rancid muck. Pres. Henry B. Eyring, then president of Ricks College (now BYU-I) noticed that some individuals went to work and became heroes to their fellow men, while others ran from every opportunity to serve, betraying their wards, quorums, and even their own family members to the disaster. Being an analytical businessman, Pres. Eyring performed "a small but scientifically significant study" into why some people rose up while others ran away. What he found was very interesting
What separates the heroes from the deserters?
Speaking about this experience, Pres. Eyring noted the difference between those who rose up and those who ran away:
There was just one thing… Those who were heroes had been the people who always remembered and kept promises in the little things, the daily things… a promise to stay after a church dinner to clean up, or to come to work on a Saturday project to help a neighbor.
Those who deserted their families when it was hard had often deserted their obligations when it wasn't so tough. They had a pattern of failing to keep their word to do little things when the sacrifice to them would have been slight and doing what they had said they would do would have been easy. When the price was high, they could not pay it.
A lessons from the leper
I'm reminded of Naaman, the Syrian captain who went to Elisha to be healed of his leprosy. I imagine Naaman asked himself what price the prophet would demand for such a miracle. This desperate Syrian was already humiliating himself going to the Hebrews for aid, and he brought with him a bounty of treasure to sweeten the deal. What if the prophet demanded sacrifices? Say the word. An epic quest to the end of the earth? We leave today. No price would be too high to rid himself of this awful disease.
Naaman was surprised when Elisha couldn't be bothered to meet him in person. Instead, Elisha sent a terse message instructing him to take a bath. It was easy. Too easy. Insultingly easy.
Rebuffed, the sour Naaman started to return to his own land. Fortunately, a servant girl reminded Naaman of his idiocy:
If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
Naaman received new skin that day. But more importantly, he received a new heart.
I also think of the story of the children of Israel and the fiery serpents. The Lord commanded Moses to make a brass serpent and mount it on a pole. Whoever had been bitten would be healed if they simply looked. Unfortunately, many, like Naaman, were so insulted by the easiness of this promise that they went through the effort of willfully averting their eyes from the symbol Moses had made. Those rebellious Israelites perished because they chose to keep venom in their hearts.
Will we rise or will we run?
I've noticed this disturbing trend among many members, both active and less-active. They bear testimony of the Church and express their conviction to the cause of the Lord. They have sometimes expressed how they'd heroically haul a handcart across the plains, suffer a martyr's death for the Gospel, and leave everything the moment the Prophet says to gather to Zion to meet the Savior. But attend a boring Sacrament meeting at the unholy hour of 9 AM, clean the chapel, or accept a Primary calling? "No thanks, Bishop. Let me know when you have a harder task, worthy of my time."
We often quote Alma's teaching that:
The Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means… by small and simple things are great things brought to pass.
Look, I love that scripture, but I hate how we often interpret it, as if Alma was saying, "Get used to boring. God doesn't do anything cool or impressive anymore." But Pres. Nelson has been clear on this– there are some really cool things coming very soon:
Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory.
But if we are skipping the small stuff, we're going to miss it. By bringing small and simple things to pass, we flex our spiritual muscles and prepare ourselves to bring great things to pass. Setting up chairs, helping our kids pick up fast offerings, and doing our time in the nursery build into us the muscle memory of service and the habit of commitment. If we haven't built that fortitude of character in the small things, we will be too scared, too prideful, and too lazy to answer the call. When the Lord needs servants to accomplish His greatest wonders, many of us who have imagined ourselves as dedicated, Gospel heroes will find ourselves withdrawing into the bushes like the Homer Simpson meme.
So if you find yourself begrudging building cleaning duty, you're not ready for Zion. Repent and get to work. Time is running out.