A few years ago in my family, each Sunday I would send out an email with a writing prompt. Each family member, including spouses, had the remainder of the week to reply to all and share their memory. My mother had saved all of these and then compiled them into a booklet for our upcoming reunion. One particular prompt was, "Tell about an experience you had with personal prayer." I wrote about two experiences. They are as follows (sorry it is long- I won't feel offended if you choose not to continue).
When I was sixteen years of age one of my "Young Women Personal Progress" projects for church was to adopt two elderly women at a nursing Home and visit them once a week. These visits usually took place on Sunday afternoons.
One weekend, my parents had decided to drive out of town, to Griffith, Indiana to visit my Aunt Kae & Uncle Jim. The rest of us stayed behind and went to church on our own. It was during church that I found out that one of my friend’s parents were out of town as well. Heidi had a plan to visit some boy’s house after church. I explained to Heidi, that I only had permission to go to church and to the nursing home. I invited her to come along with me, instead. She ran this idea passed her older sister, who thought that plan sounded okay, and knew their mother would approve.
My older sister and her boyfriend wanted to spend time together that afternoon as well, so the boyfriend volunteered to give her and the other siblings a ride home from church. This meant I could go to the nursing home straight after church, without going home first. The plan was set in motion.
However, Heidi and I never made it to the nursing home that afternoon. Instead, I had been oblivious to a stop sign, and was hit by another car in an intersection. Heidi and I both had our seatbelts on, and as taught by my parents in just such a situation, I remained calm. Heidi on the other hand was hysterical. I asked if she was in pain anywhere, and if she could move all of her limbs. I felt assured by her response that her injuries, if any, had been superficial.
The car, on the other hand, didn’t fare as well. In a day and age without cell phones, I didn’t know how or who we would call. The ambulance arrived, and Heidi and I were brought on board so they could take our vitals. While one EMT was attempting to calm Heidi down, I was giving the other EMT information for the both of us. Being her best friend, I knew her date of birth, her full name, her parents’ names and her phone number. As they continued to evaluate her, I began to say a prayer that everything would be all right. I had also asked the Lord to somehow let my parents know that I was in need, but that I was okay. That was probably the first time in my life that I remember being scared, and not having my mom or my dad close by.
Just then, Brother Hinsdale, a counselor in our Bishopric and close family friend, happened to drive by. He was on his way home from depositing the church tithing into the bank. He recognized the car. and pulled over. He approached the ambulance and asked if there anyone by my name or my sister's name on board (as he knew we were the only two kids in our family to have our driver’s licenses). The EMT looked shocked and responded yes, and let him on board when Brother Hinsdale introduced himself as one of our clergymen.
I informed Brother Hinsdale that my parents were out of town, but that they were at Uncle Jim’s house and his number was written in the back of our phone book at home. Brother Hinsdale said he would call my siblings and give them instructions to call my parents at Uncle Jim’s house. It was only later when I found out that at that exact moment, Mom had a feeling that she needed to call home. However when she did, the younger kids had not yet received the call from Brother Hinsdale. Therefore they informed Mom that all was well. She had them write down Uncle Jim’s number anyway - "just in case" - and instructed them to call her if anything went wrong. It was only a matter of minutes, when Uncle Jim’s phone rang, and Mom announced, “That’s for me” before Uncle Jim even had a chance to answer it.
Repeating the information they had received from Brother Hinsdale, they told Mom that I had been in a car accident and was taken to the Elkhart General Hospital. It was about this time that Heidi and I were being admitted to the hospital, and it just so happened that our nurse was a mother of one of my high school friends. Her name was Mrs. Otto and she recognized me right away too. Seeing a second familiar face during this ordeal was comforting. She was just starting to chart our information when an aide came into the room and announced that my mother was on the phone. Mrs. Otto looked surprised, and then handed the phone to me.
After conversing for a few moments, and comparing notes with Mom, I knew that the things I had experienced were of no coincidence, and tears immediately came to my eyes. After ending the phone conversation, I explained to Mrs. Otto that our parents had been out of town. She asked me, “How did they know where to find you so quickly?”
“I prayed,” was all I could manage to say. I could see the amazement on Mrs. Otto’s face. The triage room fell silent as tears filled each of our eyes, including Mrs. Otto’s. She had to blink back the tears several times as she finished her work.
I know in my heart that each of us can be tools in the Lord’s hands, if we are open to His guidance. I believe that Heidi was there so that I would not be alone, and so that she would not carry out her foolish plan to visit a boy on her own. I believe that Brother Hinsdale was inspired to drive down that road, which was not a normal route for him, so he would recognize our car and stop and check and make that call home. I believe that Mom’s feeling was more than Mother’s Intuition; that it was a prompting of the spirit. And who knows? Perhaps the fact that Mrs. Otto was working in the ER on that day at that particular time when I had this experience was as much for her benefit as it was for mine. Whatever the reasons, I walked away virtually un-scarred, but forever changed.
"The Wrong Prayer"
One afternoon, about 7 or 8 years ago, I was getting ready to run to the grocery store. There was a store close by my house in Salt Lake City, but I didn’t care for that place very much. Instead, I had wanted to drive up to my favorite store in Centerville.
I loaded the kids in our ten-year old van and we headed North on I-15 and made the short fifteen minute drive. I miraculously managed to get my shopping done and keep the kids from killing each other all at the same time.
Perhaps I was a little too tired from my late shift the night before to notice any warning lights, or perhaps there weren’t any signals at all. But soon, I felt the van dying and was able to pull to the shoulder of the freeway as safely as I could. At that moment, I painfully realized that in the haste of loading up all of the kids earlier that day, I had forgotten to bring my cell phone charger. I was also painfully aware that my phone was almost dead.
With the little amount of juice that was left, I quickly dialed my then-husband, and told him that the van had died and that he needed to come and pick us up. When he asked as to my whereabouts, I explained that I was on the freeway, near 2600 South, and then my phone went dead. I hadn’t time to explain that I was in Davis County, which was north of our Salt Lake home. All he had heard was 2600 South and immediately got on the freeway and headed south.
I was praying that he would remember my favorite place to shop and know where to find me, but soon the few minutes turned into many, and then nearly an hour went by. It was hot outside, and my little ones were starting to complain. I let them open a box of treats from the store, but I knew that wouldn’t pacify them for long. I asked them all to pray with me. I prayed that my husband would know where to find us. I prayed that our van would start. But as the time ticked on, the husband didn’t seem to be coming and the turn of the key didn’t produce so much as a spark.
Feeling sleep deprived and completely worn out, I rested my head into my arms on the steering wheel and cried to Heavenly Father, “What else am I supposed to do?”
The thought then entered my mind that I perhaps I had been praying for the wrong thing. I had been praying for the van to start and I had been praying for the husband to find us. Well, I figured that the Lord knew how directionally challenged the husband was and that he might never show up. I figured if the van wouldn’t start, I needed to pray for someone else to help me. So I did.
I asked Heavenly Father to have compassion for me and my three very uncomfortable and tired children. I asked Him to send me someone who could help me. I prayed that there would be someone out there that would be in tune enough with the spirit to find me.
I had my hazard lights on, hoping that someone would stop. I even instructed my oldest - a.k.a. FunnyMan, who was around eight years old at the time to wave to people out the back window. I thought that if perhaps they knew there were children in the vehicle, they would have compassion and stop. By now, the two youngest were drenched in sweat and wanted out of their sticky car seats. They started to cry; first one, and then the other. Pretty soon, FunnyMan began to jump up and down and informed me a van was pulling up behind us. Two men got out of their van and began to approach mine.
The older one asked if we were okay. From beneath my tears, I sputtered that my van had died. The man explained that he had owned several of this exact type of van, including the one he himself was driving that day. He said that he and his son were heading Northbound from Salt Lake City into Davis County, when he happened to spot our van from the opposite direction. He offered to look under the hood. I agreed. The son offered me the use of his cell phone, to which I also agreed. As he handed me his phone, I couldn’t help but notice a ring on his hand. It had the initials, RWH, which I knew stood for Return with Honor, indicating he had served a Mormon Mission.
I immediately felt that I was in safe hands. But in feeling the peace and comfort the Lord had brought, I was overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry almost uncontrollably. I am sure that these two brethren thought I was a basket case. I used the phone to call the husband, but got a busy signal because he was no doubt still trying to call my cell phone, which was dead.
The father came around from under the hood, and after checking several things, had declared that my engine was completely dead. He then asked me where I lived, and offered to drive me and my children home. I was still crying, so all I could do was nod my head. The men helped me load up my children and their car seats into their van, and they transferred all of my groceries from my van to theirs. On the way home, the man had told me he worked for the church in the then newly built conference center. I’m sure he probably told me his name too, but I was so exhausted, that I could hardly take it all in.
Once we got to the house, this wonderful father and son had unloaded all of my groceries and my children and made sure that we were safe inside before they took off.
I have always been a believer that the Lord does hear and answer our prayers. But I believed that in this lesson lay something greater. I had to realize that the nature of my supplication wasn’t quite appropriate. I had to rethink my situation and humble myself before God and be open to His guidance that perhaps I was asking for the wrong thing. I had to be open to the fact that even though the end result, to arrive home safely, was a righteous desire, that it had to be in His own way, and not in mine.
I have thought about that occasion so many times and wished I would have gotten the names of this man and his son. I have longed to express my sincere appreciation to them for what they did for us. Incidentally, I have driven that same stretch of freeway several times since, and I find it amazing that he could have spotted us from the opposite side of the freeway, across six lanes, going at least 65 miles per hour. I have tried to look for myself, and in fact I am almost sure it is impossible. Without knowing these two men, and only knowing that they are brothers in the gospel, I have referred to them often in prayer, asking Heavenly Father to bless the man and son for coming to rescue the basket-case on the side of the freeway that day. I can only take comfort in knowing that the Lord blesses us according to our righteousness, which leads me to believe that their lives have been blessed. I am so grateful to Heavenly Father for sending me these two guardian angels.
To end this already lengthy blog post today, I want to share something a guest speaker said yesterday in church. She had an accent, and was a little hard to understand at some points. But this part, I got. She was talking about trials and enduring them, and going through the "why me?" type of thing. She then said,
"The Lord does not put us through the Refiner's Fire simply to test us. He puts us through the Refiner's Fire to help us come to know our Refiner."
I found that to be very interesting. I do believe that we are given trials to come to know ourselves better; to understand who we are and to what we can accomplish. I just never thought about the fact that we are given trials to come to know Him better. Makes sense though. The harder the trial, the harder we tend to pray. The more we pray, the more we gain peace, comfort and understanding of Him, by Him and through Him.
It can be a long road before we gain that understanding. Sometimes it is only a glimpse. Much of the time our answers to prayer come by way of other people. And most often times it is hard to be patient, because we cannot see the end from the beginning.
So, the next time you want to ask, "Why Me?" Hear His voice reply, "Because, I love thee."