‘The Master and the Message’

Someone had moved the sofa, though mom had yet to notice. The carpet was the same, and the video-game joystick in the room’s center was earthly enough. No one would have guessed that the rearranged, cream-colored furniture was the metallic battle bridge of the Starship Enterprise; no one knew that the gray Atari joystick was the central-computer of the federation’s most powerful flagship. But I knew, for my eight-year-old heart yearned with each beat to “boldly go where no man had gone before,” longed with each pulse to fearlessly look both ways before crossing the galaxy.

“Dad, grab the camera! I’m going to make a movie!”

My beanpole sister Andee was Spock, and Jessi was Doctor Bones. “Darn it, Kirk, I’m a sister, not a Star Trek oddball” she said, trying to imitate the good doctor. Besides the director, I was the star, Captain James T. Kirk himself, commander and chief of the starship Enterprise, heart and head of the most powerful space vessel this side of the Romulan Empire.

The plot was brilliant, following closely the plot of every Star Trek episode ever created. Sister Spock was flying the Enterprise through an uncharted sector of the galaxy, avoiding black holes and other “unidentified singularities in space-time.” The ship shuddered, an effect created by jostling the video camera randomly as we all lunged to the right.

“Captain, we’re being attacked by an unidentified race of alien beings!”

“Don’t worry, Spock. I’ll just beam off the ship to fix this problem.”

Circular weights from my dad’s muscle-building machine (the “beaming-pad”) had replaced the plastic plant in the corner. I sprinted, and with the decisive order to “energize” the molecules of my body, ever inclined to disobey even the most fundamental laws of physics, reassembled themselves in some distant spot.

Once off living-room/stage I grabbed a “special effect.” With stolen twine from my mother’s sowing drawer I’d tied a blue frisbee to the end of a broken broomstick. Now came the decisive moment! With all the drama my soul could muster, I raised the extraterrestrial and, swinging the broom, made the aggressive creature lunge violently at sister Spock.

Sister Spock snickered. A feeling of immense anger rose from within me as the corners of her mouth rose to her eyes. Dad stopped filming Spock and Bones and turned the camera in my direction, recording forever the scene of a red-faced, red-haired eight-year-old whose six-year-old sister’s unprofessional smile had ruined an otherwise brilliant drama.

Spock failed to understand who was in charge of that ill-fated science-ficticional production. She misunderstood the message my angry face lanced in her direction–a message of solemnity and dramatic professionalism.

I pondered that experience ten years later in an MTC classroom, indulging in a little nostalgia instead of studying a little Portuguese. My mind made a curious connection. Spock had ignored my sober message, ignored my unspoken reprimand. Sister Spock never understood who was in charge of the movie–who directed and governed that work. Was I any different? Did I understand who was directing and governing me then, who was trying then to guide and teach me? Did I understand who directs and governs missionary work, a work far more important than “Star Trek IX: Spock Gets Eaten”? I like sister Spock ignored my director’s message and threatened to ruin everything. Who was in charge? My zone leader, my mission president? An apostle or a prophet? What was that director’s message for me?

“Where do you think you’ll serve your mission, son?”

We passed the north side of Cougar Stadium, just past the hill where college students make snowmen and sled tracks in December. Exotic places–Jamaica, Kenya; Romania or Magnolia–invaded my mind. My four-year-old sister Kelsey Kay chirped an agitated response.

“Mom! It’s Jesus that gets to decide!”

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, gets to decide! Jesus Christ, our Savior and Master, directs and governs His missionaries, whether in Brazil or Bolivia, Delaware or Denmark. We preach Christ; He’s our message! We preach His gospel as restored through the boy-prophet.

These thoughts meandered through my head as I lay on that MTC classroom floor, resting from a long day of Portuguese and Prophets, pondering what it meant to be a representative of Jesus Christ. I glanced at the brick wall above me, stared at the two paintings that hung there.

The first was of the Savior in a regal white robe. Surrounded by concourses of angels, He stood upon the clouds with outstretched hands, beckoning all nations and peoples.

The second was of the prophet in a grove called sacred, beholding the glory of the Father and Son above him in a pillar of light. God also outstretched His hand, pointing to His Son as He Said, “This is my Beloved. Hear ye Him!” Pointing as He ushered in the restoration of His ancient church in our modern times.

My sister never realized who was in charge of the movie: me! She never understood the message etched on my beet-red face: shape up! But we understand! Our Master is Jesus Christ. Our message is His restored gospel. He directs this work, and through Him we will help our brothers and sisters return to His presence.

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