This felt like the overwhelming message of today's lessons. We have been placed on this earth to learn, through making choices and enduring well to the end in all things the Father asks. Unlike those who value power, gold, wealth, and glory - none of which can be taken into the hereafter - those who are looking for an eternal reward know that the greatest blessings we can gain in this life have to do with the vast stores of knowledge one can gain in this lifetime.
Gaining this knowledge is a lifelong process. There is always something new to be learned. Even the Lord knows we must be given truth line upon line and precept upon precept. You have to start at the beginning and work your way up. Can you imagine a child being given a book on macro-economics and being expected to understand every concept contained therein? The same is expected when learning of gospel-oriented things.
Joseph Smith, prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this last dispensation, described the process of learning.
"When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave" (History of the Church, 6:306–7; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Apr. 7, 1844, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff, Willard Richards, Thomas Bullock, and William Clayton; see also appendix, page 562, item 3).
For many of us the process of learning is a joyful experience. We relish in the opportunity to discover new things. For other the process feels more like torture. It's difficult to watch one person grow and expand in areas we struggle with. We may become discouraged, might even choose to give up.
I've always been able to do math problems in my head. Nothing complex. In elementary school my teacher used to give us time addition/subtraction tests. I distinctly recall one student who was to correct my paper raising her hand to catch the teacher's attention. The girl thought I'd cheated, because she couldn't see any signs of work. Just answers. I actually had to show both her and my teacher that I'd simply done them in my head. What came so easily to me could not be (immediately) comprehended by someone who struggled with it a little more.
Because I was able to pick up quickly on those math problems, I was able to continue on with the next level, or rung on the ladder. Though the girl in my class didn't catch on quite as fast, she still continued on and learned just the same things. Over the years I've come to realize the ability and desire to learn things comes with a responsibility: to be there for those who are still climbing behind.
I can't help thinking of the nights I spend trying to help my oldest with her math homework. We see two different things when we look at a paper full of fractions needing to be reduced. She sees a whole lot of time spent on frustrating problems too difficult to grasp. I look at it and see a few problems to be done in ten minutes tops. And that is why I'm there for my daughter. I long ago learned the new and frustrating concept of fractions in the hopes of being there to assist those who are at the bottom of the ladder.
Knowledge is truly a treasure, but it is not enough. To know how to fish, or how to cook, or why the sun rises and where it sets doesn't do anyone any good if it is not acted upon. Think back on the quote given at the beginning of this post. When we hear something, no matter how beautiful or profound, over time it will be forgotten. If we see something with our eyes, one of the most powerful senses we posses, it can be easily recalled. But we don't learn, we don't recognize the truth in all the things we've read about, unless we put the knowledge into action.
The first thing that comes to my mind whenever I ponder on this idea is the Savior. There are many people, men and women alike, who have studied the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. They have written tomes on His works, His words, and the social structure around the time He lived. I respect them for this effort, and for the knowledge they not only earned but willingly shared with others.
Yet to honestly, truly know the Savior one must take this knowledge a step further. We cannot know Christ unless we have walked in His shoes, lived as He lived, and put the principles He taught into action in these modern days. To love your neighbor need not apply only to the times of Christ. It is a concept applicable to everyone, everywhere, at every time.
If we hear, we forget. If we see, we remember. But only when we act upon the things we've seen, the ideals we've studied, the knowledge we've gained, can we finally learn.