“The Fallen Sparrow,” Ensign, Jan. 2004, 55
Raised in a Christian home, I learned as a young boy to love the Bible stories of prophets like Moses and Elijah. When I later joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I began loving and appreciating the standard works even more. The scriptures have, therefore, become a vital part of my parenting and family life. From scripture charades in family home evening to reading verses together as a family, my wife and I have tried to instill in our children a love for the word of God.
Scripture stories at bedtime have created some of our favorite family memories. My wife and I cherish these teaching moments, for they come when we have our children’s full attention—and they have ours.
One such moment came one evening as I was telling my son the story of Joshua and the battle of Jericho. Three minutes into the story, he stopped me and asked, “Daddy, is it wrong to think something bad if you never say it?”
I replied, “I suppose it is, because Jesus said we should learn to control our thoughts.”
He then admitted, “Well, sometimes when you discipline me I say in my mind, ‘Dumb Daddy.’”
A few minutes later, my daughter called from her bedroom, “Dad, when you’re done there would you come in here?” After talking the question over with my son, I went into my daughter’s room. She said, “I heard what he said. I do the same thing, but instead of saying, ‘Dumb Daddy,’ I say, ‘Stupid Dad.’”
Needless to say, I didn’t get the children of Israel settled in the promised land that evening. This did not concern me, because the scripture story had been the catalyst for my children to talk about their feelings. I realized once again the importance of listening to and understanding their tender feelings.
The scriptures are also helpful in responding to everyday problems and challenges at home. This idea was dramatically emphasized to me one day when my son walked into the house with a dying sparrow in his hand. I asked him, “Son, where did you get that bird?”
“It fell out of the sky,” he answered.
“Oh, how did it fall out of the sky?”
“I don’t know. It just came down.”
At that moment, I noticed his BB gun in the corner. Pressing further, I asked, “Son, what caused the bird to fall?” He answered that a BB had hit it. “Well, how did the BB get into the sky?” I asked.
His head dropped as he said, “I shot it with my BB gun.”
I could have handled the situation several different ways. I decided to turn to the scriptures. I said to him, “Son, what did Jesus say about little birds?”
“I don’t know,” he said.
Together, we found the pertinent reference in the Bible: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father” (Matt. 10:29).
I asked my son what this scripture taught us about shooting little birds. He replied that Heavenly Father knows when even a bird is hurt. Then the crucial moment: “How would Heavenly Father have us treat little birds?”
“We shouldn’t hurt them,” he answered.
My testimony of the value of the word of God in the standard works has grown significantly since the day I joined the Church. Now, as I immerse myself in the scriptures, I find a treasure chest full of precious gems and pearls of great price—a treasure to be shared with my family.