In 1849, as the story goes, a young merchant from Boston was caught up in the fervor of the California gold rush. He sold all of his possessions to seek his fortune in the California rivers, which he was told were filled with gold nuggets so big that one could hardly carry them.

Day after endless day, the young man dipped his pan into the river and came up empty. His only reward was a growing pile of rocks. Discouraged and broke, he was ready to quit until one day an old, experienced prospector said to him, “That’s quite a pile of rocks you are getting there, my boy.”

The young man replied, “There’s no gold here. I’m going back home.”

Walking over to the pile of rocks, the old prospector said, “Oh, there is gold all right. You just have to know where to find it.” He picked two rocks up in his hands and crashed them together. One of the rocks split open, revealing several flecks of gold sparkling in the sunlight.

Noticing a bulging leather pouch fastened to the prospector’s waist, the young man said, “I’m looking for nuggets like the ones in your pouch, not just tiny flecks.”

The old prospector extended his pouch toward the young man, who looked inside, expecting to see several large nuggets. He was stunned to see that the pouch was filled with thousands of flecks of gold.

The old prospector said, “Son, it seems to me you are so busy looking for large nuggets that you’re missing filling your pouch with these precious flecks of gold. The patient accumulation of these little flecks has brought me great wealth.”

Of this story Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asked a question and provided teachings worth contemplating:

What are the flecks of gospel gold in the teachings of Jesus Christ whose patient accumulation over the course of our life will reward us with the ultimate treasure-the precious gift of eternal life?

The Savior provided the response when He answered the Pharisee who asked, “Master, what is the great commandment in the law?

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Mathew 22:36-40).

As we seek to love God and Jesus Christ and our neighbor we will find ample opportunity for acts of simple service. It might a kind word to the discouraged. A camping trip with a boy who’s lost his father. Perhaps a regular visit to a rest home. Or, forgiving someone of a mistake made long ago who longs for your friendship.

These frequent expressions of kindness and love will accumulate over time and, like the small flecks of gold to the prospector, will bless with you with a joyful life filled with eternal treasure.

Michael S. Tree, stake president Missoula, Montana Stake Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, can be reached at michaelstree@gmail.com.

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