Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jelly Doughnut

"The Jelly Doughnut" is a modern day parable.   I heard it from a missionary a few years ago.   My telling is no where near as good as the rendition the elder gave in sacrament meeting, but I hope that you can get the meaning out of it.   

Bro. Nichols was a great seminary teacher.   He worked to bring the spirit into every class and encourage unity within the kids.  Of course, in every group there are always those who are outsiders.   In this particular group, the outsider was Jason.   He arrived alone, sat alone, and left alone.   In between, he rarely spoke and was rarely spoken to.  

One Friday, Bro. Nichols stopped Jason as the class was leaving.   "Jason, your in pretty good shape, aren't you?" he asked.   
"I guess."  was the simple reply.
"I know you work with your dad on the weekends.   It's some heavy labor you guys do.   You could do 10 push-ups easily, couldn't you?"  Bro. Nichols asked.   
"Sure" replied Jason, with a shrug.   
"How about 100, just 10 at a time?" Bro. Nichols plied further.
"Yeah, I could do that"
"How about 300, 10 at a time?"
Jason's interest was peaked "How long would I have to do them?"
"An hour, I know you can do it" Bro. Nichols assured him.
"What's this all about?   Why am I doing push-ups?"
" I need you to help me out in class, I'd really appreciate it."
"Okay" said Jason

Monday, a large bakery box greeted the class as they entered the room.   The kids were barely able to contain themselves as the smell of doughnuts had filled the class.   Everyone quickly took their seats as napkins began to be passed out.   The first jelly doughnut was lifted from the box.   Jason proceeded to do 10 push-ups.   The doughnut was placed on the desk.   Obvious wonder passed over the class.   Another doughnut was lifted from the box, ten more push-ups, and another happy student received their treat.   First, doughnuts for no reason and then push-ups for no reason? 
The confused class began asking what was going on as the treats continued to be passed out.   Brother Nichols simply said that Jason was doing push-ups so that they could have their doughnuts.   This answer was not acceptable to the football jock, Brian, who was next to receive his doughnut.   
"I don't need Jason to do push-ups for me!   I'm doing my own."
"You can't do your own, Jason has to do them for you."
Jason was already working on a set of push-ups for Brian.  
"I don't want one then."
"Okay, that's your choice.   But you still get one." said Bro. Nichols and he placed the doughnut on Brian's desk.
Brian threw his doughnut in the trash with contempt.
Now, as the strange situation continued, there was less eating and more questions.   Jason was going more slowly, a few extra breaths between sets.   One of the girls asked if she could help Jason.   It was the first show of compassion that he'd ever received from his classmates.   It spurred him on.   Following her lead some began to voice sporadic support.   Others followed Brian's lead and vainly refused the gift.   
Half way through the class, Jason was beginning to sweat.   The supporters were more abundant now and the refusals were less.
Students began leaving their seats to stand and give encouragement where Jason began to struggle.
20 desks with doughnuts, few of them with students in them.   Students were actually cheering on the outsider.
250 push-ups done, sheer determination on Jason's face.
Even Brian and his followers had joined the encouraging on lookers.
By push-up 300, Jason's arms burned, so did every heart.
Tears flowed as Bro. Nichols explained that Jesus Christ gave all for the most precious gift ever given.   
Understanding crossed Brian's face when it was explained that we are free to chose.   We receive that gift, even if we throw it away.   No one else can earn it for us, we can not earn it for ourselves.   Salvation comes only from the one chosen by The Father.
Christ is always there, his Atonement is done, all is payed.   We chose our path, near him or far removed.   We chose what to do with our gift.  Throw it away all together, partake of a just a portion, or use it to it's fullest.   

This parable has been a strong influence for me.   One of the missionaries told me that it was actually done in his ward as a combined mutual night.   He testified of the strong spirit brought to that night by this activity.