My kids and I recently built a safe. It’s not exactly the most secure safe, given that it’s made of wood, but it was a lot of fun to build. The kit gave clear instructions and allowed us to put it together in just a few hours.
The best part about it was that it gave me a look into how a combination lock works. A combination lock is one of those amazing devices that everyone has used, but that most people don’t really think about. In the case of our lock we have three tumblers, each with a notch in one specific part of the wheel. Only when all three tumblers are perfectly aligned does the lock disengage and allow you to open the door.
(In this photo the safe is empty as we hadn’t yet filled it with assorted candy treasure)
Once we had built the safe my kids immediately tried to open it. Considering that they didn’t know the combination you can probably imagine their frustration. Even after I had given them the combination they weren’t able to open it immediately. I had to explain that you had to turn the dial counterclockwise several times before stopping at the first number and then turn it clockwise past the second number before stopping on the second number…. and so forth. Any junior high kid who has struggled with their locker door knows how frustrating it can be to try to learn how to use a combination lock.
I tried to explain how the tumblers worked and why the lock has to be operated a certain way, but eventually I just had to show my kids that it works by simply showing them how to do it.
This got me thinking about how this is similar to testimony. As I teach my children about gospel principles, such as faith and prayer – I sometimes get bogged down in over-explaining things. It’s important for them to understand the principles, but it’s so much more powerful for them to see the principles in action. Once they know that the principle works they are better able to focus on how it works. Instead of talking about how service blesses our lives and the lives of others, it’s much better to show them service in action. Once they try it for themselves they begin to build their own testimony about the principle.
I guess that’s why the Savior always invited to act rather than simply asking his followers to listen. “Come follow me” rather than “Sit still while I talk to you about the gospel.”