Sticks and Bricks

Build with bricks, my friend. Photo by Ella de Kross.

We all know the story of the three little pigs—
Two built houses of straw and twigs;
Not wanting to work in the heat and the sun,
They chose instead to play and have fun.
And they mocked the third pig for his planning and care
When he laid out a structure that was sturdy and square.
For he didn’t fall for the quick, flimsy fix,
But carefully built a house made of bricks.

Well, time went on and brought with it change;
When in moved a neighbor that was all sorts of strange.
This fellow, you see, was quite fond of pork—
A big bad wolf who wanted pigs on a fork!
So he paid a kind visit to the homes of the pigs,
To the one made of straw, then the one made of twigs;
And when the pigs’ confidence the wolf couldn’t win,
He huffed and he puffed, and he blew their homes in!

Then after a meal of fresh, juicy meat,
The wolf went to visit the last home on the street;
But what he discovered when he finally got there,
Was the brick house stayed standing, despite his hot air!
For the third little pig was, oh, so prepared;
And when adversity struck, he just wasn’t scared.
For truly he’d sacrificed both hard and long
To build a structure that was sturdy and strong.

Now for the lesson of the three little pigs—
Don’t cut corners with straw and twigs.
Sunshine and safety will not last;
When disaster strikes, preparation is past.
And no one knows the day nor the hour
When calamity causes the foolish to cower.
So heed the warning of this little rhyme,
And start preparing—one brick at a time.


“Great!”  I thought, “they are all going to be asleep!”  I was preparing a Sunday lesson for the fourteen-year-olds on self-reliance.  Not exactly the most exciting topic for adults, much less the young men.  However, these young men are growing up fast and, unfortunately, self-reliance is not magically bestowed just because you become an adult.  So, though teach this principle I must, I wanted to try to make it relatable and understandable to them.  What is the only thing to do?  Story time, my friend, story time.  I told the story of The Three Little Pigs.  We then looked for where principles of self-reliance were applied and where they were not and the consequences of each.

We then read the parallel story of the 10 virgins (Matt 25:1-13).  You know the parable, five virgins were foolish and five were wise; five were self-reliant and five were not.  “But why didn’t the virgins with oil just share?” one class member asked.  President Kimball gave the answer:

The foolish asked the others to share their oil, but spiritual preparedness cannot be shared in an instant. . . .   

This was not selfishness or unkindness. The kind of oil that is needed to illuminate the way and light up the darkness is not shareable. How can one share obedience to the principle of tithing; a mind at peace from righteous living; an accumulation of knowledge? How can one share faith or testimony? How can one share attitudes or chastity, or the experience of a mission? How can one share temple privileges? Each must obtain that kind of oil for himself. . . .

In the parable, oil can be purchased at the market. In our lives the oil of preparedness is accumulated drop by drop in righteous living. Attendance at sacrament meetings adds oil to our lamps, drop by drop over the years. Fasting, family prayer, home teaching, control of bodily appetites, preaching the gospel, studying the scriptures—each act of dedication and obedience is a drop added to our store. Deeds of kindness, payment of offerings and tithes, chaste thoughts and actions, marriage in the covenant for eternity—these, too, contribute importantly to the oil with which we can at midnight refuel our exhausted lamps.”

(Faith Precedes the Miracle, pp. 255-256)

This oil is added one drop and one day at a time, line upon line, precept upon precept, act upon act our lamps are filled.  One brick at a time our sturdy house is built.  Like President Kimball said, these are not things that can be given away or shared when either the bridegroom or the big bad wolf pass by.  To be ready for what may come tomorrow—good or ill—requires us to develop self-reliance and personal preparedness today.

After all, I don’t like the thought of being left to the mercy of a big bad wolf!

Nothing for you here Mr. Wolf. Photo by Marek Szturc.

Written: November 13, 2016

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