The Message Was Clear: “Now Is the Time”

“Mom, Sarah’s mother says we shouldn’t call ourselves Latter-day Saints. What are Saints?” asked my two little girls ages six and eight as they returned from playing at the neighbors.

In attempting to justify our Mormon use of the word Saints and explain its meaning to our children, I discovered that I wasn’t really a Latter-day “Saint” then, and that I had been one only on occasion. One definition explained that a Saint is marked by his ability to recognize and respond to spiritual environment (see Mosiah 3:19), one evidence of a true Saint being his use of prayer. I had prayed all my life, but only on a few occasions had it really been a spiritual experience for me.

At that particular time, because of business reverses my husband and I were praying more fervently than at any other time in our lives. We fasted and pled with the Lord to help us rebuild our business. Finally I wrote in my journal:

“There must be a reason for our adversities. We are trying our best to do what is right: to love others, share the gospel, pay our tithing, have family home evening, family prayer, magnify our callings and attend our meetings. What else is necessary to get an answer to our prayers?”

Soon a line from my patriarchal blessing came to my mind: “and thy prayers shall be heard in heaven and all will be answered for thy best good.” Had we been trying to counsel the Lord?

We went to him again, this time with a yearning for real communication and a willingness to submit ourselves completely to his will. We could finally pray, “Thy will, not mine, be done.”

We sold the business; my husband found an excellent job; and then as we began to do His will, we could see the great wisdom, love, and patience of a Father in Heaven who knows what is best.

For example, until then, the prophets’ counsel that mothers should be at home with their children had meant other Latter-day Saint mothers, not me. I was the exception; I needed the outside stimulation. I had too much drive, too much to accomplish. I couldn’t stay home. Besides, it was the quality of time we spent with our children, not the quantity, that mattered. Could I now submit myself completely to His will, as I had promised? I finally retired from teaching handicapped children and began teaching my own children full time.

Committing ourselves to do His will also meant that we had to start doing something about family preparedness and a year’s supply.

It was summer, canning season, and near time for the delivery of our fourth child. I was beginning to feel like a real mother, and one full year at home had proven the happiest of my life.

One evening late in July I retired early, wishing that I felt more like canning peaches, but I was tired and eight months pregnant. As I fell asleep I whispered, “Heavenly Father, help me want to can peaches.”

A voice, pure, clear, and gentle, came to me: “Now is the time.” I awoke, thinking I must have been dreaming. A second time the voice repeated the admonition, “Now is the time.” As the warning came to me the third time I was wide awake and fully aware that the message was from God in answer to my tired, whispered prayer.

It was only three weeks before David was to be born, and much of the canning season was over, but I bottled peaches, pears, plums, and grapes; and two days before the baby was born I was out gleaning blueberries from bushes past harvesting. I polished and shined each of my 112 bottles of fruit and placed them lovingly on the shelf. As I stood back to survey my accomplishment, a thrill went through me, and I knew I was beginning to fill a measure of my creation.

We not only felt that now was the time for us to prepare, but we were also concerned for the members of our ward and stake. That fall, as a personal project, my husband brought a large truckload of Utah hard winter wheat to Michigan and dispersed every kernel.

We so effectively taught our children about being prepared for hard times that when the home teachers came just before Christmas and asked the children, “What is coming soon?” our three-year-old son quickly replied, “Hard times!”

As I thought about the voice I had heard, I wondered why the message hadn’t been completed. Why had it been Now is the time and not Now is the time to prepare. What else could it mean? It began to be clear to me that it is one thing to have a revelation and quite another to understand it.

As if in answer to my question, an article appeared in the Ensign explaining that “understanding comes in the process of careful, prayerful reflections of meditation upon what one has received. To pray,” it said, “is often like asking for food and then being blessed with a sumptuous meal. What would you think of a person who, when thus honored, merely took a sniff, then put the meal on the shelf and left it?” (March 1975, p. 15.)

That December my parents came to Michigan to visit, and as we were reminiscing one snowy afternoon it suddenly came to me, “Now is the time.” I ran and got my typewriter, and as they talked I typed their story. I sent copies to their other children, to relatives, and to friends and acquaintances they had known through the years. In return, my parents received many letters of fond memories and love. As they read those letters, tears streaming down their faces, I thanked my Heavenly Father for another taste of the sumptuous meal he had prepared for me.

A lovely young mother of five came to visit one day. I had been hoping for an opportunity to tell her about the gospel and invite the family to our ward open house. That afternoon, as we walked by the basement steps into the garage, I suddenly felt quickened as the Spirit whispered, “Now is the time.”.” We talked. Her face was aglow as she responded, “Linda, we have been praying for two months that Heavenly Father would show us which church to go to.” As we watched the parents of five little children go down into the waters of baptism, my heart was overflowing with gratitude for the blessing of yet another taste of that delicious meal.

The following January we invited my parents to go to Europe with us, offering to pay their way. But they refused, saying that my sister was graduating from high school and they wanted to be there in case she needed them. “She must have a place to turn for refuge and encouragement and advice at this time in her life when some of life’s most important decisions are being made,” Dad said.

The love and concern of my parents for an almost grown, very mature, and independent daughter touched my heart, and I heard the Spirit beckon “Now is the time” for you to start listening to your children.

We moved, and in our new ward an inspired Spiritual Living teacher challenged the Relief Society sisters to search their souls, to go back in their lives and really repent of everything that was not in harmony with the Lord’s way. The message came loud and clear to me: “Now is the time” for you to do it. As I began to search my soul, to admit my mistakes and wrongs, true sorrow for my sins came, and I was able to confess them and, where possible, to make restitution. Through praying and struggling for humility and forgiveness, the pure joy of the Holy Spirit began to come to me during quiet moments. Down deep in my soul came the most glorious experience I have ever had as I knew that my sins were forgiven and that the Lord was pleased with my efforts.

One night I dreamed that I was given a woman’s name to research for temple work. But in my dream, just as I found the necessary information, my time was up and my assignment was incomplete.

“Now is the time,” I thought, for me to begin genealogical research. Since then I have come to love the work, to get to know and admire my ancestors, and to appreciate my heritage.

Then the counsel of Church authorities to study the scriptures finally came to mean me; and as I made the commitment to Do it now, those 5 A.M. sessions with the scriptures and the Spirit became an exciting and fulfilling experience. The scriptures started to apply directly to me. Now is the time that I must prepare to meet God.

After receiving that message four years ago, I can say with Amulek, with more understanding than I ever thought possible, “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.” (Alma 34:32.)

Linda Reeder Thatcher, a homemaker and mother of six, serves as Relief Society education counselor in the Young Ward, Logan Utah Stake.

She Prayed Our Father Home

One Saturday afternoon, my father and my brother set out from our ranch to gather a load of wood. My father told my younger sister Elaine and me to look after the ranch and to take care of our chores during his absence.

He instructed me to go down to our lower field and bring in the milk cows so that they would be in the barn ready for milking when he returned.

I had intended to ride my horse to bring in the cows, but I discovered it had left the barn and was with the cows in the lower field. The only other horse was a big black one that my father had told me not to ride. But, being lazy and not wanting to walk all the way out to the field and back, I decided I’d ride the horse “just this once.” I saddled him up, climbed on, and then tried to pull Elaine up behind me. But the Lord must have been watching over her, and we couldn’t get the horse to stand still long enough for her to climb on.

Promising her a ride on my horse when I returned, I set out to get the cows. On the return trip the horse got its legs tangled in some baling wire and, in its panic to get loose, threw me off.

I was knocked unconscious by the fall, and the next thing I knew, I was sitting on my brother’s bed. Somehow I had walked back to the house, crossing through a number of fields and climbing over several fences. I had blood streaming down my face from a deep gash on the side of my head, and my left hand was doubled back against my arm. I also had many scratches and cuts.

As I slowly realized the state I was in Elaine came into the room crying. I asked her where she had been and she said, “I’ve been praying to Heavenly Father to tell Daddy to come home and take you to the doctor.”

My father said that at the same time this was happening, he was in the middle of cutting a piece of wood when he sensed that there was trouble at home. He stopped what he was doing and said to my brother, “Let’s go home. Something is wrong.” He arrived shortly after I regained consciousness.

I have always been so thankful for my sister and for her trusting and humble faith.

Deanne P. Smith, homemaker, serves as Primary president in the Joseph City Ward, Holbrook Arizona Stake.

We affectionately call him our little Smash-Rip-and-Ruin. After having a sensitive, well-behaved girl like Lavon Kaye, we weren’t prepared for an active boy like Randy.

I attempted to train him with reason and explanations but failed consistently. When I asked him not to ruin our antique chairs by hitting them with a hammer, he complied by hammering the dresser with a screwdriver. I made him promise not to hammer anything with anything anymore, so instead he wrote all over the piano with a ballpoint pen.

Tuesday was worse. He tried to clean the aquarium by pouring six ounces of detergent into it. By the time I tried to rescue the fish, they were lying lifeless in foam on the carpet. He broke an egg on the kitchen floor to see if a chick was inside. He turned off the water heater. He banged the dusty furnace filter down the hall “to clean it out.” Then he knocked his glass of milk over on the table.

That night I was nearly late for Relief Society preparation meeting. But as I dashed out the door, Randy followed me, pleading, “Mama, don’t go!”

“I have to go,” I replied, irritated. “I’m late already. Go bother your dad!”

“But I need you,” he begged, anguish in his voice. “I lied.”

I assured him that we could discuss it as soon as I got home, but his brown eyes were watery, and his bottom lip quivered. “Please stay home,” he implored. “I don’t want to burn up in the fire.”

“What fire?” I asked, as my chubby little cub came sobbing down the steps into my arms. Dumping my books on the ground, I hugged him tightly to me.

“I lied,” he sobbed. “And I don’t want to burn up in that big fire that is going to burn up all of the bad people on the earth.”

As his words tumbled out in the security of my arms, he confessed that he had lied about finishing his scrambled eggs that morning. He didn’t like them because they had onions in them, and they squeaked when he chewed them. He had been in a hurry to watch television, so he let the dog lick his plate clean, and then he lied about it.

I carried him back into the house to the big rocking chair. He snuggled against me as we talked about repentance and forgiveness, about trusting each other and not telling lies, and about not making little children eat scrambled eggs with onions in them.

The flowered rocker was faded but unblemished when I inherited it from Great-grandmother Snowball. The hammer marks will never go away, but they are not as important as a cuddly four-year-old with deep brown eyes.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Michael O. Rogan

Patricia Halgren Rupper, a homemaker, serves as Mia Maid leader in the Payson Utah East Stake.