The Parable of the Squashed Bugs on the Windshield
August 22, 2011 4 Comments
A few weeks ago I was driving home from Young Women’s camp thinking about the great spiritual experiences they were having. I have the opportunity to work with a lot of youth and see them enjoy spiritual experiences. For some, these experiences provide the most intense feelings of the Spirit they have ever encountered. Like most adult teachers, I wished that these experiences and feeling could be remembered. If our youth could just hang on to the feelings, the thoughts, the excitement and the faith, they would be spiritually firm (Jacob 3:2) and could withstand whatever came their way. But they would soon descend the mountain and return to the world where they would be distracted and forget what they had felt and seen.
As I continued down the mountain in the middle of the Coastal Mountain Range of Oregon, I drove through a huge cloud of bugs. They were hitting my car with loud pops and making a mess of my windshield. And then it hit me. Not a bug, but a parable.
We have all had to deal with bugs on our windshield. The resulting mess doesn’t interfere entirely with our driving but they can be a distraction and make it difficult to see clearly. As a temporary, quick fix our cars have a system that sprays cleaning solution and wipes the windshield by just pushing a button from inside of the car; we don’t even have to get out of the car. This method doesn’t clean the windshield entirely but it allows us to continue our trip safely.
For a complete cleaning, one that gets all the bugs off our windshield and allows us to see clearly, we have to stop at a gas station. There we, or the station attendant, can clean all the windows of the car to almost perfection. We can see again without distraction.
The lives of our youth (and ours) are like that journey down the mountain. We start out, after having spiritual experience after spiritual experience being able to see “things as they really are,” (Jacob 14:13). Inevitably, because we live in a fallen world, we have to drive through clouds of bugs. Life’s trials, both self-inflicted and those not of our doing, blur our vision, make it hard to continue down the road and make it seem as though we are looking “through a glass, darkly.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
Thankfully, there is a system to quickly clean most of the bugs off our spiritual windshields (cousins to our Spiritual Curtains). The cleaning fluid, the Spirit, cleans off bugs of every kind. Without stopping we can continue our journey because our tanks are filled with this cleaning solution.
But what if my tank isn’t full? What if I forgot to fill the tank with the cleaning solution that will get rid of all those bugs? My journey becomes dangerous and I will find it hard to see what is real. President Spenser W. Kimball spoke often about having “reservoirs of faith” (Faith Precedes the Miracle, Deseret Book, pp. 110–11) from which we can draw at times of need. It is through the “holy habits” that we fill our tanks with the cleaning solution of the Spirit. As we read, pray and serve on a daily basis the faith, strength and access to the powers of the Atonement will be made available; our tanks will be full.
But sometimes we need a complete cleaning. Regardless of how much we try, we can’t get our windshields totally clean without stopping and getting help. Every Sunday we have the incredible opportunity to participate in an ordinance that cleans us, “every whit.” (John 13:10) As we partake of the Sacrament, we are cleansed through the sacrifice and atonement of Jesus Christ. Every bug, every sin, is cleaned from our windshields and we can continue our journey seeing clearly.
Life’s journey is difficult enough without bugs on our windshield. If we don’t use our agency to do what is necessary to clean the bugs, we will get distracted, miss turns and get lost. Filling our tanks by reading in the scripture and praying to a loving Heavenly Father and then stopping and partaking of the Sacrament weekly to have the bugs cleaned off completely will allow us to see the road clearly and arrive at our eternal destination.