We finally got a bench for my "piano"--a keyboard, actually, but it's the best I have--and I sat down yesterday afternoon to begin rebuilding one of my favorite Sunday afternoon traditions. When I was a teenager, Sunday afternoons were dedicated to music. I would pull out all our "churchy" music and play and sing, sometimes for hours. (This frequently got me out of tasks like helping prepare dinner, because my parents liked the music. I was a smart kid.) My younger brother James would frequently come and sing with me, and sometimes my dad would wander in for a song or two as well, but usually it was just me and the piano.
Yesterday I pulled silver and orange duct tape off the top of the box labeled, "Shannon's Piano Music," and grabbed the first book on the top. It was "The Light Within" by Janice Kapp Perry, a collection of songs I'd grown up on, easy to play and fairly easy for me to sing (if no one's listening and I don't have to worry about being a little off on the high notes).
I started on the first page and played through several of the songs without really thinking much, but when I got to the duet called, "How Great Shall Be Your Joy," my brain started buzzing. The words for the first verse are based on a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants. It's a scripture I memorized first through this song, and later in early-morning seminary as a teenager.
D&C 18:15--And if it so be that ye should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my father!
This time, instead of my brain jumping to full-time missionaries like my brother James, who's currently in Denmark, I thought of my children. What greater joy could I have in the kingdom of God than to have my family there with me? What greater opportunity do I have to bring souls to Christ than when teaching my children?
But my brain kept going, because I've known too many wonderful parents who have children who have "opted out." Despite my best efforts, my children will have agency--that wonderful and terrible ability to make their own choices--and they may not choose to follow Christ.
And then a beautiful reality of this scripture hit me. One soul. Just one. God, who cares about the sparrows and the lilies and the hairs on our heads, cares about one soul. Including mine. Even if the only soul I bring to Christ is my own, I shall have joy.
I'll still do my best to help others, especially my children, to learn of Christ and come to Him. But in the end, the only soul I have control over is my own. I'll do everything I can to bring that one home to Him.