“The Errand,” Friend, June 2001, 19
“Oh no,” Michael moaned to himself. “Not another errand!” He knew that he shouldn’t feel this way. He loved his father. But ever since his father’s accident, it seemed like all he ever did was ask Michael to run errands for him.
“I’m coming.” Michael could hear the irritation in his words and guiltily hoped that his father would hear it, too, and respond with a “Never mind.” But there was no reply, so Michael slowly made his way to his parents’ bedroom.
Even though it had been over four months since the car accident, it still seemed strange to see his father in bed during the daytime hours. Michael knew that it was difficult for his father to lie there day after day, but it was difficult for him, too. He had been eager to run errands for his father during the first few weeks. But lately it was getting harder to give up what he wanted to do. Again today he had had to tell his best friend, Brad, that he couldn’t come over after school because he was needed at home.
It didn’t help that in a few days Michael would turn twelve. There would be few presents and no party with his friends. His mother and father had said that they were sorry—they didn’t have the time or the money this year for a friend party. It would have to be a family-only party.
Life before the accident seemed like a distant dream. Money had not been a real problem then. Now Michael worried more and more about what would happen to him and his family. His mother had taken a part-time job at a bakery to help make ends meet. Michael knew that as the oldest child in his family, he had a responsibility to help as much as he could. Lately, though, that responsibility seemed to weigh more and more, even though he did the same things: caring for his younger siblings, mowing the lawn, vacuuming the carpet, washing clothes and dishes, helping prepare meals when Mom worked late, and running errands for Dad.
As Michael went into his parents’ bedroom, the afternoon sun spilled through the window and across the multicolored quilt tucked around his father. His father turned the quilt back and slowly pushed himself up against the pillows behind him. “Michael, come here a minute, please.” Even though his face showed the strain of sitting up, he smiled at Michael. “I have an errand for you.”
Michael could feel the irritation building again. He didn’t want to run any more errands.
“Please get my scriptures for me. They’re on top of the dresser.” Michael’s father pointed toward the far end of the room.
Michael had always liked the smell and feel of the leather cover of his father’s worn scriptures. He handed them to his father and was about to leave, when his father said, “Hold on a minute. I want to say something to you. I know that these past four months have not been easy for you. You’ve given up a lot to help take care of me and the rest of the family. I want you to know how much I appreciate what you have done and how much I love you.” As Michael felt his irritation begin to seep away, his father continued. “There’s something else I want you to know. Even though you’ve given up many things, I’ve noticed that you’ve acquired others that are more important.”
“Huh?” Michael could think of several things that he’d given up, but nothing that he had gained during the past four months. “What things?”
“Well, every time you run an errand for me, you come back with something for both of us.”
None of what his father was saying made any sense to Michael. Maybe the accident caused some brain damage, he thought with concern.
Michael’s father saw his look of bewilderment and laughed softly. “Let me explain. I’ve seen you grow more these past four months than at any other time in your life. Every time you went on an errand, you came back with more maturity, more talents, and more skills.” He held up the scriptures. “The Savior taught that He only did the things His Father sent Him to do. His whole life was an errand for His Father. He willingly gave up His will to do the will of His Father. Because of that, He received everything His Father has.* In a few days, you’ll receive the Aaronic Priesthood and will be ordained a deacon. Do you know what that means?”
“I’ll be able to pass the sacrament, and I’ll go to priesthood meeting instead of Primary.”
“That’s right. But it means much more than that. It also means that you will be on the Lord’s errand. If you always do what He asks of you, even if it means giving up everything you have, what you receive in return will be far more valuable than any earthly possession or entertainment.”
Michael left the room with a completely different feeling than he’d had when he had entered. Pondering what his father had said, he realized that not all the changes in his life had been too hard—not if they made him a better person.
From downstairs, he heard his mother call, “Michael, can you run an errand for me?”
This time, he responded quickly and with joy.