Bright Lights in the Early Morning

Dear Will:

As you may recall, I teach early morning Seminary five days a week. My class this year is made up of high-schoolers from 9th grade to 12th. Although I have 30 kids officially on my rolls, on a typical day I get no more than 20.

Even so: Twenty kids. Every morning—throughout the school year. (And mine is only one of hundreds of such classes that are meeting each day around the world.) Think about the sacrifice and dedication required for a 16-year-old to drag himself out of bed before the sun comes up, grab a Pop-Tart and slide into a chair by 6:45 a.m. (give or take). And then (poor souls), they have to put up with me for 45 minutes every day. It’s remarkable.

So let me make a few remarks about these extraordinary kids. There are plenty of mumbling sleepy ones, to be sure, but the vast majority of them are bright-eyed and enthusiastic. They smile more than they scowl and generally participate willingly in whatever I may have cooked up for that day. And if you ask me, even the unenthusiastic separate themselves from typical teenagers simply by virtue of the fact that they are there.

The contrast between these kids and the teenagers you too often read about in the papers (or see depicted on TV) is striking. Their goodness is apparent, and at this point, I know them well enough to know that they are generally trying hard to do what’s right—in spite of the pressures and distractions that make it so hard for anyone these days—let alone those as susceptible to outside influence as teenagers—to hold fast to that which is good. But because they do seek after that which is virtuous, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy, they have the added benefit of the active support of the Holy Spirit in their daily lives.

And it’s apparent. I wish you could see what I see each morning. There is a brightness in their faces that signals how extraordinary they are. The scriptures say that when we are spiritually born of God it is as if we had His image in our countenances. I think that these kids are evidence that that really happens.

I have a friend who sometimes says that a room full of these valiant youths is a sort of light show. Some shine brighter than others, to be sure, but it’s true that they do give off light. They remind me (often) of those familiar verses from the Sermon on the Mount:

     Ye are the light of the world.  A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
     Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
     Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

(Matthew 5:14-16)

I’m not exactly sure why I’m telling you all of this. Perhaps it’s because I have seen their good works and feel compelled to glorify my Father which is in heaven. Or perhaps I’m just feeling lucky to have the privilege of starting each day with these bright souls and I felt like sharing. Whatever the case, I wanted you to know about them. If you ever get the chance, swing by the building on Yorba some morning and sit in the back of the room (I’ll save you a seat). You’ll be glad you did.


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