I was a busy high school senior when Dad decided that our family should begin an intensive study of the scriptures to help my brother Bruce prepare for his mission. Dad’s goal was to read the entire Book of Mormon before Bruce left, tape-recording our voices as we went along. Since Bruce and I were the only two of my parents’ seven children still living at home, Dad would herd Mom and the two of us into the living room every day after school, and we would take turns reading a chapter.
I wasn’t thrilled with this idea. I was particularly opposed to the tape-recording. So more often than not, I would head out the door to work or to a school-related activity just as scripture time began, secretly glad that I had an excuse to miss out.
To my surprise, the family finished the Book of Mormon a few months later, and Dad eagerly tackled a new project. There were still several weeks before Bruce was to leave, so Dad decided we should read and record the four Gospels from the New Testament. I complained this time, telling Dad that I didn’t see the point: we could buy audiotapes of professionals reading the scriptures—and they sounded a lot better than we did. Still, Dad persisted. “Carole, one day these tapes will be a great blessing to us,” he said.
I remained unimpressed and a little uncooperative.
The weeks went by, school was almost over, and I had fewer excuses for missing scripture reading. But as I participated more often, I began to enjoy these times together with the family. I especially liked to hear Dad share his personal insights about a passage. Soon I began to sense the peace that comes through studying the scriptures. We finished reading the four Gospels shortly before Bruce left for the Missionary Training Center.
Dad had been right all along about those homemade scripture tapes; they did become a blessing. After Bruce left, I noticed how comforting the tapes were to Dad. He often listened to them, partly just to hear Bruce’s voice, I thought, since they had been very close. Sometimes at night Dad would fall asleep listening, and I would smile to myself as I heard the familiar click-click-click of the recorder that had run to tape’s end.
Those tapes also blessed me in a way that I never could have guessed. When Bruce had been gone for more than a year, Dad died quietly of a heart attack on a bright September Sunday. I remember wondering how it could be so beautiful outside when all seemed black to me. By the next day, all of our family members had gathered except Bruce, who had determined to finish his mission.
That evening, after talking with my bereaved brother on the telephone, I was feeling low. I went upstairs to Dad’s room and dejectedly sat down at his desk. I noticed his well-used tape recorder lying nearby; inside was one of our tapes of the New Testament, which Dad must have listened to the night before he died. I began rewinding the tape, stopping it at random, hoping to find solace in hearing the gentle resonance of Dad’s voice. I hadn’t really been listening to the words, but suddenly I sat upright as my father spoke from the tape:
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
“Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:27–28.)
I listened to that passage over and over; the words reached out and wrapped a comforting arm around me. Through my tears, I found them in my Bible, marked them, then went downstairs and shared them with my mother. Despite our sorrow, we realized that Dad was at peace and that he wanted his loved ones to be at peace, too.
Peace did come to us that night, and it continued to come slowly during the months that followed. Since then, I have tasted the sweet peace of the New Testament time and time again. To me, that is its greatest message.