Several Sacrament meetings ago, our beloved Bishop challenged us to reflect on the moment when we came to Christ. Other Christian denominations, he explained, place a great emphasis on a personal conversion experience, on the specific moment in time when they recognized Christ as their personal Savior and accepted Him as such. Denominations aside, he continued, all of us, as followers of Christ, must come unto Him. He invited everyone in the congregation to reflect on their “come unto Christ” moments. I accepted his invitation and will now share my reflections with you.
When I was a college student, working in the Uinta mountains in Utah as a Pioneer Trek Ma, my father was in the process of losing the family dairy in Idaho. His hard work was not enough to overcome harsh financial conditions. The dairy and the accompanying acreage would soon belong to the bank and he, my mom, and three of my younger siblings would soon be homeless and, I feared, hopeless.
I felt helpless. What could I do? Concerns for my family plagued me while distance and lack of resources crippled me. Though I ached for my mother and siblings, my greatest fear was for my father. I could only imagine the pain he felt….the feelings of failure, of letting his family down, the concern for the future, wondering how he would feed and clothe his family tomorrow, much less provide for future needs.
One Sunday afternoon I took my heavy heart for a walk in the woods. Internal prayers became external as I vocalized my concerns about my dad to my Father. “Help him,” I pled. “Please help him.” Help came. As I wandered I was led to sing and as I sang I was led to the hymn “How Firm a Foundation”. Timidly I began my solo.
How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
Who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior,
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?
I knew Dad was a faithful man. I knew that, in this trial, he had turned to his Savior. Assured by this knowledge I sang on…
In ev’ry condition—in sickness, in health,
In poverty’s vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea--
As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.
The hymn became a metered answer to chaotic prayers. “....in poverty’s vale….” The song perfectly described my dad---he had built his foundation on Christ and he was in poverty’s vale. The verse’s promise--that my father would be succored by his Savior, was reaffirmed by the Spirit. I began to know that my dad would be okay.
I sang on, my voice and confidence growing.
Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
Fear not! FEAR NOT!!! My fear fled. God would help Dad. My dad would be upheld by the righteous, omnipotent hand of the Almighty God!!!! It was going to be okay!!!!!
I sang on.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o’erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
Yes, yes, yes….. Dad had been called to go through deep waters, sorrow had certainly been his, but God was with him….WITH HIM! Not only with him but building him, blessing him, sanctifying him. My God was with my dad!
I sang louder (though probably not better)--hope replacing helplessness, faith replacing fear--until I got to the final verse.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
I knew my dad. I knew his foundation. I knew, without doubt, that in his fiery trial he had leaned on Jesus. And, as I sang the final verse of this sacred song, I knew that Christ would honor my father’s faith. As I sang the song’s promise, it was as if Christ Himself were speaking directly to me. Hell was endeavoring to shake my dad but it would not work. Jesus Christ, the Lord Omnipotent, Alpha and Omega, the Almighty God promised me that He would never, no never, NO NEVER forsake my father.
I knew as clearly as I knew the sun rises in the the morning, that the Son of God would raise Dad. Dad did not need my help because he had His.
Dad had come to Christ. And so had I.
POST NOTE: It did turn out okay for Dad, better than okay actually, one could say fabulously. It took awhile….a transfer to the Pacific coast, living in a converted chicken coop for a month or two, working at several different jobs, going back to school….but eventually Dad became Assistant Principal at Toledo High School where he positively affected literally hundreds of lives and secured a retirement income that has enabled he and mom to serve four missions, own their own home, and live securely and comfortably.