It had been more than a hectic morning. I had crawled out of bed barely in time to wake my five children for prayer and scripture study. Then I had helped them practice the piano, stopping only to throw together a breakfast.
My three oldest children were grabbing their sack lunches, asking for permission slips, and searching for their backpacks when the doorbell rang.
All of my eager children converged upon the front door, and the four-year-old threw it open wide. There stood the furnace repairman my husband had called to fix our broken-down boiler. I had thought the repairman would arrive later in the morning.
“Hi, there, I’m Mike. I’m here to fix your furnace.” He cleared his throat hesitantly. He was obviously counting heads.
“Oh, hello. You’re early, aren’t you?” I tried to sound cheerful. “Just a moment. Okay, you three, better scoot before you miss the bus.”
Three children raced past in a flurry of good-byes and kisses, while the stunned furnace repairman watched. He looked about thirty. His light-brown curly hair was streaked with blond locks. His jeans were worn but clean, and his blue cotton work shirt sported a crisp name tag.
“Are all these yours?” His voice begged me to contradict him.
“They sure are,” I said, holding open the front door. “Come on in.”
What a way to greet the public early in the morning, I thought, as my spirits sagged. It was eight o’clock. I had been up since six-fifteen, but it didn’t show. We stepped around the children’s toys as I led him down to the basement.
“Here’s the culprit.” I motioned toward the huge boiler that was rattling and banging in the throes of death. “Hope you can fix it.”
I scuffed back upstairs to change the baby, clear the breakfast mess away, and straighten up the house. About four hours later, Mike came up to tell me he was finished. My youngest boys were fed and the baby was taking a nap. I was even ready to pull out my checkbook to pay for the damages.
In the middle of showing me how the pilot light on the boiler worked, Mike asked a startling question. “Your son says he is going on a mission. What does that mean?”
The shift in subject was surprisingly abrupt, but I plunged right in—my husband had been a missionary, the children were planning on missions, and my husband and I hoped to fill a mission together later in life.
“How can you believe that—that Mormonism?” he asked, with the same sense of incredulity with which he had counted my children that morning.
“Why, what do you mean?” I countered.
Mike measured his words. “Well, I just saw a film at the local theological seminary all about Mormons, and I’m really surprised at your religion. You worship prophets instead of Christ. You actually belong to a cult, you know.”
I have known many people who have the appropriate scriptures memorized for just such a moment. They have a neat, orderly index in their brains. The numerical references roll around on their tongues and come forward in an orderly fashion—just in time to awe someone with their deep knowledge. These people are usually former missionaries or current Gospel Doctrine teachers. I was neither.
This sort of challenge was not my regular daily fare. Then I remembered a time two years before, when I had had some interesting Bible discussions with a student from that same theological seminary. The student had been a veritable walking Bible—he could quote each scripture I vaguely referred to.
“Isn’t there a scripture about prophets in the Old Testament—umm, Amos?” I had hesitantly asked him one time.
“Oh, you mean Amos 3:7—‘Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.’”
“Right, that’s the one.”
Oh, boy, here we go again, I thought. If only I knew the scriptures, I could really answer Mike. I took a deep breath.
“First of all, we are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our name tells you we worship Christ, not prophets. Christ is our center, although we know God uses prophets to guide his people on earth. There’s a scripture in the Bible that tells us we need prophets.”
“Oh, really?” Mike wasn’t convinced.
“If you’d like to see it, I’ll show it to you.” I headed for my bedroom. There on the nightstand stood my crisp, new copy of the Bible—the LDS edition with the Topical Guide and special footnotes. I had spent the last few months going through my old scriptures and underlining my new book in an effort to make it my own.
I picked it up and said a quick silent prayer.
I walked into the furnace room with my Bible and opened to “Prophets” in the Topical Guide. A quick scan; and I had found the reference in Amos. I looked it up and showed it to Mike.
“This tells me I need a prophet to guide me here on earth. Our prophet is Ezra Taft Benson. I need him today as much as the ancient Israelites needed Moses.”
“Well, that could refer to my pastor,” Mike said.
“Does your pastor call himself a prophet?”
“Then how could he be a prophet if he doesn’t call himself one? Mike, our church is not a cult, as you call it. It is the same as the one that Christ set up when he came to earth. It’s organized the same way. I’ll show you …” With the help of the Topical Guide, I found Ephesians 2:20 and 4:11 [Eph. 2:20; Eph. 4:11] and showed him the organization of the primitive Church: apostles, prophets, teachers, and evangelists.
Soon I was telling him about baptism for the dead and the three degrees of glory. I knew that the missionaries taught these concepts, but I didn’t know in what order they taught them. Mike accepted very little of what I said, but he kept asking questions. For each question, I found a subject in the Topical Guide that led me to a familiar scripture.
We talked on and on—he being little persuaded but obviously surprised that the scriptures yielded up their treasures so easily on the side of the Church. I was exhilarated as I consistently found the words of God pointing to the truths I had so often read and been taught by loving parents and teachers.
I was reminded of our ward mission leader, who had spoken of how sharing the gospel renews your physical body as you are filled with the Holy Ghost. I knew just what he meant. I felt physically strengthened as we discussed the scriptures.
Three-thirty came and went; the children came home from school, the baby awoke from his nap, and the four-year-old came home from playing with a friend. Four o’clock, four-thirty, and five o’clock came, and Mike and I were still discussing the scriptures. I asked him if he had to go on with his business, but he said his schedule was flexible and he would make up the time later.
Finally, after nine long hours—four hours of work and five hours of discussion—he had to go. I challenged him again to read the Book of Mormon and find out for himself if what I had told him was true. He said he would.
I gently closed the front door as he walked down the steps to his truck. Slowly, almost reverently, I walked to my bedroom nightstand and placed my new edition of the Bible on the polished wood. Then I bowed my head in a barely audible prayer: “Thank you, Father. Thank you for the scriptures.”