This morning I awakened, deeply grateful to have had a long night of restful slumber. The first thoughts that came to mind centered around the memories I had of the previous evening's experience of extreme discomfort; I knew I had another episode of internal infection well underway. I was so grateful that my family doctor had written a prescription for me to use in case the infection signals occurred during "non-office hours."
I had reason to compare my physical experience with that of some wonderful people who, before the missionaries came to their door, had gnawing spiritual discomfort stemming from the feeling that something was missing from their lives. Only after hearing the message of truth from some humble missionaries were they able to find inner peace, knowing who they are and who they may become through precious eternal covenants.
Earlier this week I took time to listen to the BYU Devotional on TV. I was late in tuning into the program, so I did not get the name of the speaker. I gathered from what he said that he was a member of the BYU teaching staff. He related how he grew up in a home where the father was not LDS. The Dad served in the U. S. Navy, subject to frequent transfer, so the family knew what it was like to have to get acquainted with new LDS friends as well as non-LDS classmates wherever they went. Too, the father was not LDS nor was he interested in changing. The mother was faithful enough that she hunted for LDS places of worship wherever they lived. She was the anchor that held the family together, so while the father was frequently on submarine service for months at a time, the mother faithfully nurtured her children in the principles of truth.
My heart literally ached for this speaker as he let us know how much he missed having a father who could have led out as a priesthood holder in the family unit. It was obvious that he loved his Dad, but he missed all of the things that COULD HAVE BEEN part of the family life.
However, all of the heartache evaporated when the father finally joined the Church at age 75. This good patriarch of the family made a complete about-face, easily qualifying for a temple recommend the next year. I almost shed tears of joy to picture in my mind the happiness of a full-fledged LDS father, an emotional mother and four grateful children entering the temple to receive special blessings on their special day. ". . .and men are that they might have joy!"
Too often in the Church we enjoy hearing experiences like the one above, but we fail to capture a part of the lesson which needs to be emphasized. To do this I would like to use an experience that I encountered during my boyhood. My family had a faithful home teacher who earned my admiration when he often shared some experiences from his own life. He had been raised in the home of one of Farr West's earliest settlers. His father's life had been elevated to a new plane when he heard missionaries bear their testimonies in far-off England. The spirit of gathering brought him and his family here about 1890. This neighbor (named Reuben) was taught right, but as he matured he picked up some bad habits which affected his own life as well as the lives of several of his descendants. Later in life he did an about-face and served well in the Church. When he came into our home, I recall that he compared his own life's path with my father's. My Dad, at age 6, lost his father; however, he honored his widowed mother, served a mission, married well, and lived a commendable life of service in the Church. Brother Reuben questioned who would be in the better situation in the hereafter--my steady plodder of a Dad, or his own deviant life--sorta a prodigal son who had wasted a part of his life, but found his way back. I recall that in my youth Reuben's "prodigal son" experience seemed more exciting than my Dad's consistent living pattern until I became mature enough to compare the spiritual values my family enjoyed--with the many wasted years in Reuben's experience. How grateful I am for a Dad who was a "steady plodder" during his 79 years here. I can never thank him enough for his steady example of dedicated service in the Church. I hope my recollections may help you appreciate exemplary parents. They are priceless!