I was asked a series of questions recently that I feel might be more adequately addressed in a parable, a little made-up story that illustrates a principle.
There once was a man who, having been cast into the lone and dreary world and cursed of God for a long time, tired of himself. He was tired of being tempted continually by the same old temptations, and yielding occasionally, and hating himself for not having been strong enough to resist unto death. He was tired of setting a bad example before his children. He was tired of being what he was, in other words, a fallen, carnal, sensual, devilish man, and yearned again to be in the state of purity, light, and peace he once had, able to commune with Jesus and God, where all his requests were granted even as he made them.
So he decided to ignore and discount his fears and overriding sense of unworthiness and guilt and determined in his heart to call upon God in his might, even until he died if need be, to reenter his presence and have peace, light, joy, and love once again. So he turned from his worldly pursuits and bowed himself face down upon the earth and began to cry mightily for all things whatsoever he desired. Within that hour, his guilt and unworthiness and fear melted away and he was filled with a fiery, feverish heat that he had not felt since he was baptized at eight. Nevertheless, he did not understand the meaning of this, so he continued to cry mightily, even trying to pour out his whole soul unto death that he might be received of God into his presence. But there seemed to be a little bit left in his heart that he just could not squeeze out of his soul.
Filled with blasting heat, from that day forward, to demonstrate his humility, he prostrated himself face-down in gas station restrooms and places of similar hygiene and poured out his whole soul in desiring the same things of his God, and, indeed, did this three or four times a day in varied locations for two full years, 20-30 minutes at a time, however long it took to pour out his heart’s desires. After two years, he noted that he no longer felt quite so keen to keep asking for the same things, and he “lightened up.”
In the meantime, he determined in his heart to honor the teachings of the Savior in every little thing. He stumbled at first, but eventually he never ever suffered the beggar to put up his petition to him in vain. He picked up every hitchhiker, fed them their choice of food at their destination, and took the homeless into his home. If he had just $100 bills in his wallet, having come from the ATM, then that was that particular beggar’s lucky day.
One day, he picked up a hitchhiker who was better dressed than the rest, and offered him a place to stay for the night. The hitchhiker wore business casual, one might say. Not too tall, not too short, sandy blonde hair, blue eyes, sharp nose, tanned, mid 30’s, the man would have guessed, and not smelling like he’d stayed all day in the sun as most do. He started a conversation in the car. Turned out the hitchhiker was in charge of a family business back east, and was a Jew. The man had a passing knowledge of Jews, or so he thought – when he tried bringing up some aspect or another of Judaism, the hitchhiker just looked at him as though it was difficult, or taxing, to come down to the man’s level to talk to him. The man felt colossally stupid for even opening his mouth in the Jew’s presence.
When the man arrived home, he offered the Jew the couch, which was better than the man’s own bed, and the Jew instead took the floor. Puzzled, the man offered pillows and blankets, but the Jew declined, saying he was good with what he had. The man offered entertainment to the Jew, but the Jew declined. So the man again tried to engage the Jew in conversation, and it became apparent to the man that this Jew was much, much more intelligent than he was. Again, he felt colossally stupid even trying to talk to him, sounding dumb even to his own ears, which shamed him into shutting up. He left the Jew to sleep in his room.
In the morning, he took the Jew to the outskirts of town and offered him breakfast, which was declined. The man dropped the Jew off and never saw him again.
Fast forward a few years, when the man was filled with the Spirit and intelligence that he’d never known possible, he started talking to his child, and told her how the smartest man he’d ever met was a Jewish hitchhiker who didn’t even have to say anything – you could just feel the intelligence coming out of this Jew, he said, and he would give anything to be that smart!
Then, with a shocked gasp, he clapped his hands to his mouth, for he knew who that Jew was.
Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Doctrine and Covenants 93:36 The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.