There is not anything about your life that gets bent or broken that He cannot fix

Now, the last thing I want to talk to you about: a broken bird.

Over the years, as a diversion, I have carved wooden birds. Sometimes it would take a year to complete one. I would get specimens and measure the feathers and study the colors and then carve them. I would carve a setting for them. It was very restful. Sometimes when I would get unsettled, my wife would say, “Why don’t you go carve a bird!” It was a very calming thing in my life.

Elder A. Theodore Tuttle and I were going into town one day. I had one of the carvings. I was taking it in to show someone. We had put it on the backseat. At an intersection, he slammed on the brakes, and the carving tipped upside down on the floor and broke to pieces. He pulled over to the side and looked at it. He was devastated. I was not.

Without thinking, I said, “Forget it. I made it. I can fix it.” And I did. I made it stronger than it was. I improved it a bit.

Now, who made you? Who is your Creator? There is not anything about your life that gets bent or broken that He cannot fix and will fix. You have to decide. If some of you have made mistakes and you think you are broken and cannot be put together, you do not know the doctrine of the Church. You do not know what the Atonement was about and who the Lord is and what a power He is in your life.

This is His Church. We are His servants. We who hold the priesthood have His authority and power. We can perform miracles. We do not talk about them. Most of those miracles have to do with healing the body. The greater miracles are the miracles of spiritual growth and healing in the lives of every one of us.

So if you are on the wrong path, then you must decide. You have the agency. You have the promptings of the Holy Ghost to guide you. There is that great truth that the gospel is a gospel of repentance. Repentance is like a mathematical equation. Repentance leads to forgiveness.

Boyd K. Packer, “The Instrument of Your Mind and the Foundation of Your Character,” CES Fireside for Young Adults, 2 February 2003

The wondrous gift is given: Christmas, 1951

On a cold winter’s night in 1951 there was a knock at my door, and a German brother from Ogden, Utah, announced himself and said, “Are you Bishop Monson?” I answered in the affirmative. He began to weep and said, “My brother and his wife and family are coming here from Germany. They are going to live in your ward. Will you come with us to see the apartment we have rented for them?” On the way to the apartment, he told me he had not seen his brother for many years. Yet all through the holocaust of World War II, his brother had been faithful to the Church, serving as a branch president before the war took him to the Russian front.

I looked at the apartment. It was cold and dreary. The paint was peeling, the wallpaper soiled, the cupboards empty. A forty-watt bulb hanging from the living room ceiling revealed a linoleum floor covering with a large hole in the center. I was heartsick. I thought, “What a dismal welcome for a family which has endured so much.”

My thoughts were interrupted by the brother’s statement, “It isn’t much, but it’s better than they have in Germany.” With that, the key was left with me, along with the information that the family would arrive in Salt Lake City in three weeks—just two days before Christmas.

Sleep was slow in coming to me that night. The next morning was Sunday. In our ward welfare committee meeting, one of my counselors said, “Bishop, you look worried. Is something wrong?” I recounted to those present my experience of the night before, the details of the uninviting apartment. There were a few moments of silence. Then the group leader of the high priests said, “Bishop, did you say that apartment was inadequately lighted and that the kitchen appliances were in need of replacement?” I answered in the affirmative. He continued, “I am an electrical contractor. Would you permit the high priests of this ward to rewire that apartment? I would also like to invite my suppliers to contribute a new stove and a new refrigerator. Do I have your permission?” I answered with a glad “Certainly.”

Then the seventies president responded: “Bishop, as you know I’m in the carpet business. I would like to invite my suppliers to contribute some carpet, and the seventies can easily lay it and eliminate that worn linoleum.”

Then the president of the elders quorum spoke up. He was a painting contractor. He said, “I’ll furnish the paint. May the elders paint and wallpaper that apartment?”

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I, the Lord, remember them no more

One final story—once again from when I was a bishop. One night, while I was in a sound sleep, the doorbell rang. I stumbled to answer it and found a young member of my priests quorum at the door. I knew him well, well enough to have gone on outings with him, to have prayed with and about him, and to have taught him. I knew him as well as a good bishop knows any active eighteen-year-old priest, which was well enough for me to ask what he was doing at my front door in the middle of the night.

He said, “I have to talk to you, bishop. I’ve just done something serious, and I can’t go home.” He was right. It was serious. I invited him in, and we talked. He talked and I listened, then I talked and he listened, until dawn. He had many questions. He had committed a terrible sin. He wanted to know if there was hope. He wanted to know how to repent. He wanted to know if repentance included telling his parents. He wanted to know if there was any chance of his going on a mission. He wanted to know many other things. I didn’t have all of the answers, but I told him there was hope. I told him the way back would be difficult, but it was possible. I explained what I knew about the process of repentance and helped him see what he must do. I told him if he really wanted to go on a mission that that decision could only be made in the future after he had repented. Then I told him to go home, and he did.

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We are known by God

I testify that our Father in Heaven cares about each of us, individually and personally. There are many examples of this doctrine that I could share, but my son Mark recently reminded me of one. Mark served a mission to Mongolia. He served with and developed a deep love for a senior missionary couple from Idaho. They used an interpreter their entire 18-month mission. Their interpreter—a Mongolian sister—had an important story to tell. She grew up in Mongolia. The missionaries found her and baptized her. When she joined the Church, she started saving money for a full-time mission. She received a call to one of the missions in the United States, but at that time she spoke almost no English. She got on a plane in Mongolia to come to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, knowing only three sentences in English:

“I am from Mongolia.”

“I am a missionary.”

“Please help me.”

When she got on the plane, no one had explained to her that she needed to change planes to complete the flight to Utah. She landed in Chicago, but, naturally, there was no one there to meet her and she didn’t know the language. She found a chair, sat down, and prayed to Heavenly Father to know what to do. She then got up to try to find help. As she was attempting to explain her predicament to a ticket agent (using her three English sentences), a man tapped her on the shoulder, pulled out his temple recommend, and showed it to her. She recognized the temple recommend because she had been given one before she left, so she knew this man at her side was a member of the Church. He motioned for her to wait. Ten minutes later he handed her his cell phone, and on the other end of the line was the missionary who had taught her the gospel in Mongolia. The missionary told her to follow the man to the plane to Salt Lake City and get on board. He told her there would be people to meet her in Salt Lake City—and there were!

Our Father in Heaven truly watches out for His children—very often through others. But that’s not the end of the story. The man in the Chicago airport was a businessman who has flown all over the world. He was upset that day because it was the first time he had missed his connecting flight to Salt Lake City. But because he was there at the Chicago airport, he overheard this Mongolian sister trying to get help, and he knew he could help her.

I testify, as others have, that our Father in Heaven not only answers prayers but at times chooses to micromanage the details of His kingdom. This, too, is part of His divine nature. But herein lies an important lesson. It is our Heavenly Father who chooses; we do not dictate to Him time, place, or circumstance.
Andrew Skinner, BYU devotional, 11 April, 2006

Letting go in order to forgive

“Many years ago I was taught a lesson by a man I admired very much. He was as saintly a man as I have ever known. He was steady and serene, with a deep spiritual strength that many drew upon.

“He knew just how to minister to others who were suffering. On a number of occasions I was present when he gave blessings to those who were sick or otherwise afflicted.

“His life had been a life of service, both in the Church and in the community. …

“On one occasion when we were alone and the spirit was right, he gave me a lesson for my life from an experience in his. Although I thought I had known him, he told me things I would not have supposed. …

“He married a lovely young woman, and presently everything in his life was just right. He was well employed, with a bright future. They were deeply in love, and she was expecting their first child.

“The night the baby was to be born there were complications. The only doctor was somewhere in the countryside tending to the sick. They were not able to find him. After many hours of labor the condition of the mother-to-be became desperate.

“Finally the doctor arrived. He sensed the emergency, acted quickly, and soon had things in order. The baby was born and the crisis, it appeared, was over.

“Some days later the young mother died from the very infection that the doctor had been treating at the other home that night.

“My friend’s world was shattered. Everything was not right now; everything was all wrong. He had lost his wife, his sweetheart. He had no way to take care of a tiny baby and at once tend to his work.

“As the weeks wore on his grief festered. ‘That doctor should not be allowed to practice,’ he would say. ‘He brought that infection to my wife; if he had been careful she would be alive today.’ He thought of little else, and in his bitterness he became threatening.

“Then one night a knock came at his door. A little youngster said, simply, ‘Daddy wants you to come over. He wants to talk to you.’

“ ‘Daddy’ was the stake president. A grieving, heartbroken young man went to see his spiritual leader. This spiritual shepherd had been watching his flock and had something to say to him.

“The counsel from this wise servant was simply: ‘John, leave it alone. Nothing you do about it will bring her back. Anything you do will make it worse. John, leave it alone.’

“My friend told me then that this had been his trial, his Gethsemane.

“How could he leave it alone? Right was right! A terrible wrong had been committed, and somebody must pay for it.

“He struggled in agony to get hold of himself. It did not happen at once. Finally he determined that whatever else the issues were, he should be obedient. …

“He determined to follow the counsel of that wise spiritual leader. He would leave it alone.

“Then he told me, ‘I was an old man before I finally understood. It was not until I was an old man that I could finally see a poor country doctor—overworked, underpaid, run ragged from patient to patient, with little proper medicine, no hospital, few instruments. He struggled to save lives, and succeeded for the most part.

“ ‘He had come in a moment of crisis when two lives hung in the balance and had acted without delay.

“ ‘I was an old man,’ he repeated, ‘before finally I understood. I would have ruined my life,’ he said, ‘and the lives of others.’

“Many times he had thanked the Lord on his knees for a wise spiritual leader who counseled simply, ‘John, leave it alone.’

“And that is my counsel to you. If you have festering sores, a grudge, some bitterness, disappointment, or jealousy, get hold of yourself. You may not be able to control things out there with others, but you can control things here, inside of you.

“I say, therefore: John, leave it alone. Mary, leave it alone.”
Elder Boyd K. Packer, Conference Report, Oct. 1977, 90–91; or Ensign, Nov. 1977, 60

A great story about an answer to prayer

Here is a terrific story about a 17 year old young man who received a very powerful answer to his prayer. It comes from a BYU devotional given by E J Caffarro on June 24, 2008.

I would like to share with you a personal experience I had with prayer when I was in my youth. The setting was my junior year in high school. I was making plans with my friends to attend the junior prom. We already had in mind what we were going to do before and during the prom, but we had not finalized plans for after the prom. It was common, growing up on the East Coast, to drive down to the New Jersey shore and spend the night on the beach as an after-the-prom activity. We had the location mapped out and the cars and drivers prepared to make the trip. As the date approached I thought it would be a good idea to run these plans by my mother. I explained to her what we had planned to do after the prom. She could see that I was filled with enthusiasm but said with no hesitation, “I don’t think it is a good idea that you go.”

I said, “What? I have waited 17 years for this event to take place in my life. I am going to the New Jersey shore.”

She replied, “I don’t think it is a good idea, but can you do me a favor and pray about it?” Continue reading

Faith and obedience are the answers to our concerns

In the early 1950s the United States was at war on the Korean peninsula. Because of the draft policy of the government at that time, young men were not allowed to serve missions but instead required to join the military. Knowing this, I enrolled in the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps when I went to college. My goal was to become an officer like my oldest brother. However, during a visit home for the Christmas holiday, my home-ward bishop, Vern Freeman, invited me into his office. He advised me that a young Church leader by the name of Brother Gordon B. Hinckley had negotiated an agreement with the U.S. government permitting each ward in the Church in the United States to call one young man to serve a mission. This young man would receive an automatic deferment from the military during his mission.

Bishop Freeman said he had been praying about it and felt he should recommend me to serve as a full-time missionary representing our ward. I explained to him that I had already made other plans—I had enrolled in the Army ROTC and expected to become an officer! My bishop gently reminded me that he had been prompted to recommend me to serve a mission at that particular time. He said, “Go home and talk to your parents and come back this evening with your answer.”

I went home and told my father and mother what had happened. They said the bishop was inspired, and I should happily accept the Lord’s invitation to serve. My mother could see how disappointed I was at the prospect of not becoming an army officer right away. She quoted:

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

That night I went back to the bishop’s office and accepted his invitation. He told me to go to the Selective Service Office and advise them of my decision.

When I did so, to my surprise the lady who was chairman of the Selective Service Office told me: “If you accept a mission call, you will receive your draft notice before you can reenter Army ROTC. You will serve as an enlisted man, not as an officer.” Continue reading