A few days before my son Daniel left on his mission, he was with me on a home teaching visit. He gave a spiritual thought from the First Presidency Message in the Sept. 2005 Ensign by Elder Monson, “The Profound Power of Gratitude.” He read the following excerpt:
The beauty and eloquence of an expression of gratitude is reflected in a newspaper story of some years ago:
The District of Columbia police auctioned off about 100 unclaimed bicycles Friday. “One dollar,” said an 11-year-old boy as the bidding opened on the first bike. The bidding, however, went much higher. “One dollar,” the boy repeated hopefully each time another bike came up.
The auctioneer, who had been auctioning stolen or lost bikes for 43 years, noticed that the boy’s hopes seemed to soar higher whenever a racer-type bicycle was put up.
Then there was just one racer left. The bidding went to eight dollars. “Sold to that boy over there for nine dollars!” said the auctioneer. He took eight dollars from his own pocket and asked the boy for his dollar. The youngster turned it over in pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters–took his bike, and started to leave. But he went only a few feet. Carefully parking his new possession, he went back, gratefully threw his arms around the auctioneer’s neck, and cried.
When was the last time we felt gratitude as deeply as did this boy? The deeds others perform in our behalf might not be as poignant, but certainly there are kind acts that warrant our expressions of gratitude.
Rather than focus on the theme of gratitude, Daniel then drew an interesting insight from the story about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He said we are all like the little boy, always falling short in spite of our best efforts, but Christ in His grace and love reaches out to us and pays (the infinite price of) the deficit. I thought it was a nice twist on the story.
And for the skeptics, yes, I admit that this story fails to give verifiable details. Perhaps it never happened. But there are thoughtful people in the world who make these kind of stories come true. I’ve been the recipient of that kind of kindness many times, and hope that I can be alert and sensitive enough to be on the giving end when such opportunities arise.