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'Small and simple things'

The road to exaltation or eternal life is the same for all.

Simplicity coupled with commitment define it. Too many try to make the journey too complicated. The visitation of angels or extraordinary manifestations are not required to gain God's greatest gift: "For behold, this is my work and my glory — to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39.)

As Alma told his son Helaman, "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass." (Alma 37:6.) The Lord said very much the same in Section 64 of the Doctrine and Covenants: "Out of small things proceedeth that which is great." (Verse 33.)

Doing small and simple things will keep us on the path of eternal progression. As Brigham Young stated, "Our lives are made up of little, simple circumstances that amount to a great deal when they are brought together, and sum up the whole life of the man or woman; and yet in our passing from one to another our little acts and incidents seem to be very minute or simple, but we find that they amount to a great deal." (Journal of Discourses 19:72.)

Prayer and reading the scriptures are two of the small and simple things. And they can indeed lead to great things.

A 14-year-old boy confused as to what church to join was reading the Epistle of James when he came across the verse, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." (James 1:5.) He needed help so he did what James instructed. He knelt in prayer and asked God for guidance.

What followed changed not only the life of Joseph Smith but also the world. "The First Vision" was preceded by small and simple things.

In fact, without the small and simple things to give us a foundation, the large things lose their impact and may actually serve to condemn us.

Such was the case with Laman and Lemuel. They were visited by an angel while they were smiting Nephi with a rod after having failed to obtain the brass plates held by Laban. Yet, after the angel chastised them and departed, they immediately began murmuring again. (1 Nephi 3:28-31.)

Laman and Lemuel received numerous other manifestations, but those were to no avail because they had not cultivated the necessary small and simple things. That becomes evident in the 15th chapter of First Nephi when they complain to Nephi that they are unable to comprehend the teachings of their father Lehi.

Nephi answers with this instructive reply: "Have ye inquired of the Lord?" (1 Nephi 15:8.) They, of course, had not.

Even faithful servants like the brother of Jared need to always do the small and simple things. Otherwise, their progress is halted.

After the Lord answered the brother of Jared's prayers by not confounding the language of Jared's people at the Tower of Babel, He led Jared's group through the wilderness to the seashore.

But they weren't supposed to remain there. They were supposed to cross "that great sea that divideth the lands" and go to the promised land. After Jared's group basically stagnated for four years at the seashore, "the Lord came again unto the brother of Jared and stood in a cloud and talked with him. And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord." (Ether 2:14.)

The brother of Jared repented and began to call upon the Lord again for guidance. Great things followed, but only after the brother of Jared returned to doing the small and simple things.

The greatest thing — exaltation — can and will occur to all those who master those small and simple things.