Apr 29, 2021

Christian Friendship Fiction

   Jim Roberts thought about the Church. He thought of when he and his

wife had joined. That had been many years ago, when their children were

small. He remembered that she had always been more active than him, "She

seemed to change from being a teacher in Relief Society to being a teacher

in Primary nearly every year." He wondered why he had never been as

active, just a Home Teacher, who did not always visit his families, and

sometimes a class president or librarian. He thought, "My job often kept

me busy, but I made sure I always took my family to Church each week, and

the children to Primary." He remembered having a car full of excited

children, going on some outing or other. "Perhaps if I had been more

active, things would have turned out differently for our children. Perhaps

Mark would have gone on a mission, instead of joining the merchant navy,

and as for Laura..." He did not want to think about Laura. He tried to

think what he liked best about the Church. They had lived in London then. 

"Well, whenever there was a choir, I was always there. I always went to

the practices, whatever time they decided to have them, and I enjoyed

singing in Sacrament. Yes, I think that is what I liked best, and I was

more active in the choir than my wife." Then he thought about her.

   Again he remembered when he and his wife were baptised. "I was so

keen then, we both were. A Golden Couple the missionaries called us. It

was so exciting. We kept discovering new things, and finding answers to

all our questions. All those questions we used to ask ! But there was

always such a logical answer, and each answer made us think of a new

question. Eventually we ran out of questions, and then the excitement

faded. I suppose that was when I started to become inactive. I never

found that excitement again. I suppose when you have asked all the

questions, and you have all the answers, there is nothing more to learn. 

But my wife had the same questions, so how did she keep active ? Was it

because she was always a teacher ? Perhaps she liked answering other

people's questions. Maybe I would have stayed active if I had been a

teacher too. Ah well, it is too late, I am inactive now. It has taken a

long time, five, ten, maybe twenty years, and it is only when you stop

going to Church that it shows." He thought about his wife again. "She

never complained. She said it was God's will. I knew she was in a lot of

pain, especially at the end, but she always smiled. She still had that

smile when I saw her face for the last time."

   Now he lived in Manchester with his daughter, Laura. "Oh, Laura," he

thought, "how I wished, how I hoped and prayed for you. I saw you growing

up, and I saw those little choices of yours, each one so innocent, but each

one leading you a little farther from the Church. I knew the Church was

the best thing for you, but what could I do ? As you grew older I could

no longer make you do things, I could only try to advise you, and then at

last there was nothing I could do to change your mind. A woman in love

listens to no one. Your husband is a good man and I am grateful that you

both want me to live with you. He has a good job, he treats you well, and

you have two very nice girls, but there is nothing spiritual in your lives. 

You need the Church, and your children need the Church, they both need

Primary and Ruth ought to be starting in Young Women soon." He thought for

a while and then decided, "I need a plan to get Laura and her children

going to Church." That night Jim had an idea.

   He had often seen the missionaries with a stall in the centre of

Manchester. He had always taken a good look at what they were doing, but

he had always made sure he kept far enough away so that none of them would

speak to him. He heard the missionaries asking people the Golden Question. 

"I know the answers," he thought. "I could give those young missionaries

a hard time if I really wanted to." He saw people writing things in their

diaries, "Appointments for missionary discussions," he guessed. He

remembered the excitement of having the missionaries visiting him. 

   Next time he saw the missionaries in town, he asked them what they

were doing. He pretended he had not heard of the Church, and asked if

they could tell him sonmething about it. After a few minutes the

missionaries had arranged a teaching appointment. When Jim got home he

told Laura that the missionaries would come, and he thought, "I do not want

Laura to tell the missionaries that I was a member in London." He knew

that Laura and her husband had an argument recently, so he suggested that

the missionaries did not meet Laura, in case this made things worse with

her husband.

   The missionaries came and taught the first discussion. They were very

impressed with Jim. "You are so good," they said.

   The missionaries invited Jim to Church, and Jim thought, "Perhaps I

will get the old excitement back." Jim was careful to hide his feelings

as he went to Church for the first time in several years, and he was

careful to make some mistakes so that no one would guess he had been a

member before. He thought, "It has been too long. I should have continued

to go to Church after my wife died. That was no excuse to stay away."

   The missionaries said, "We noticed that you like our hymns." Jim said

that he liked singing, and he asked why there was no choir. The

missionaries arranged to have the ward choir re-started.

   After a few weeks Jim was baptized, but he was disappointed that he

did not feel the excitement of his first baptism. However, it was good to

be called "Brother Roberts" again, and he was pleased that Laura's husband

let him take the girls to Primary. 

   He was called to lead the music in Priesthood. There was no piano to

set the pitch, so he took his harmonica. He became popular with his

harmonica, and was always asked to play something at firesides.

   One evening he went to a Stake meeting with Brother and Sister Jones. 

It was late as they drove home, so Jim played some hymn tunes on his

harmonica to keep them all awake. 

   When Brother and Sister Jones got home, they talked about Brother

Roberts. "It's amazing," said Brother Jones. "sometimes new members take

ages to really get used to Church ways, but Brother Roberts has picked

things up so quickly. You heard all those hymns he was playing on his

harmonica. We ought to sing those hymns more often."

   "Yes," said Sister Jones, and then she shouted, "I've got it ! He's

not a new member. Don't you realise ? Some of those tunes were from the

old Hymn Book."

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