Defending His Name
It was game four in the final series of the 1992 National Basketball Association (NBA) championship. I was especially excited because I had a date with my husband to go in person to the coliseum to join the excited crowd and cheer our team on.
We felt the pulse of the arena as we took our seats and the game began. The reader board flashed, music played loudly, and cheerleaders danced; the building rocked with enthusiasm. However, the excitement I felt soon faded. A woman sitting behind us began using the name of Jesus Christ to express her anger each time a player missed a basket or the referee made a call she didn’t agree with. As the game progressed, so did the intensity with which she defiled the name of the Savior.
Our team was down by 14 points, but the sadness and frustration I felt stemmed mostly from the stream of obscenities coming from behind me. As I sat there feeling troubled, I remembered the story of President Spencer W. Kimball and how he had felt great sorrow as he was being wheeled from surgery by a hospital orderly who was profaning the Lord’s name. President Kimball had pleaded with the man to stop. The man did stop and even apologized. (See Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball Jr. , 264).
When I could bear it no longer, I turned around and, without saying a word, just looked at the woman. Her face was full of anger. She gave me an icy look and yelled, “What?”
Relying on the courage of President Kimball, I said, “I’m sorry. It’s just that it hurts me when you use his name to express anger and disgust.” Her face turned ugly as she said, “Well, excuse me! If you don’t want to hear it, maybe you shouldn’t be here!”
I said nothing, but turned around and tried to ignore the sting of her words. Tears blurred my eyes, and her angry words echoed in my mind. I wondered, Is she right? Should I not be here? Is there no place left to go in public where the Lord’s name is not defiled and used in vain?
Our team pulled ahead in the scoring. I tried to concentrate on the game. An entire quarter of the game had passed when I became aware that the atmosphere had changed. I suddenly realized that she was no longer using the Lord’s name in vain.
We were in the final three minutes of the game when a time-out was called. I felt I should turn around and speak to her. With a prayer in my heart, I turned and touched her on the arm. She looked down at me, and I said, “Thank you.”
“For what?” she replied.
“You haven’t said it anymore, and I appreciate your consideration.”
Then her face softened, and she leaned forward and said, “I’m a Christian too. I didn’t mean anything by it; it’s just something I say. I talk like that all the time, and I don’t even think about it—but maybe I should.”
We smiled at each other and turned back to the game. All the sorrow and pain I had felt turned to joy as I clapped and cheered. Others were cheering for a basketball team, but I was cheering for a much more important reason. The game ended, and I turned around to say good-bye to her. She reached down, hugged me, and whispered, “Thank you, and God bless you!” I hugged her.
Our team did not win the championship, but it really didn’t matter. While the final score was soon forgotten, I’ll never forget the lesson I learned that night at the NBA.
My Car Was on Fire!
I had attended a stake meeting 60 miles away and was on the final stretch home down a dark and lonely country road when I noticed a strange flickering light moving down the road at the side of my car. Suddenly I realized my car was on fire!
“Help me, please!” I cried out heavenward. My first thought was to stop and jump out, but I immediately felt impressed not to abandon the car. It was our only transportation. My husband had to travel 50 miles to work each day, and the loss of the car would mean the loss of his job.
As I prayed for help, I felt a flow of comfort throughout my entire body. My mind was enveloped in total peace. A very clear thought filled my mind: Drive to Brownie’s Garage. I felt so calm that even with flames coming out from under my car, I was able to drive the three miles to the crossroads where the only open businesses within 50 miles could be found.
When I got to the garage, I jumped out of the car and started to run toward the building. Then I stopped, realizing it was nearly 11:00 P.M. and the business would be closed! Why had I come here? I turned and looked at my car. The entire underside of the vehicle, from front to back, was engulfed in flames.
As I stood there in shock, a man came running toward me. He was the son of the store owner across the highway and had driven up to the crossroads from the opposite direction at the same moment I arrived.
“Just a minute,” he called, running to the closed garage. He pulled a spare key from a hiding place and opened the door. Inside he quickly found a fire extinguisher, and in moments he had the fire out. Much to my surprise, the car started easily, and after thanking the young man for his help, I was soon home.
The next day when my husband inspected the car, there was only the blackened underside of the car to remind us of the fire. We could find nothing wrong. The cause of the fire remained a mystery, and we drove the car many miles each day without further trouble. Not only had I been blessed with comfort and safety, but my car had also been protected. Since that day, I have tried to stay worthy of being led by the Spirit, knowing that spiritual preparation brings a multitude of blessings, including help and guidance in our times of need.
I Stole His Knife
The pocketknife always stayed in the closet, hanging from the shelf by a cord. Sometimes when I bent over to get something from the closet floor, I would hit my head against it. I had almost used the knife a few times—for camping or to cut a piece of bread. But I had never dared to.
I had always dreamed of having a knife like this. It was just the size I liked, and its handle was made of deer antler. But there it hung, swinging like a pendulum, unused. I had handled it just a few times, opening, one by one, its steel blades and accessories. In our Uruguayan climate, it was already beginning to rust.
I had decided that I could never use the knife. In the first place, my conscience bothered me every time I held it. In the second place, if I used the knife, I ran the risk of losing my best friend because the knife belonged to him. I had stolen it.
It had happened very quickly, during the confusion of a moment, when a group of youth from our branch were all together. Ariel didn’t notice at the time that his knife was missing. And now the knife held me prisoner.
In the two years since then, the knife had never been far from my thoughts. My bitter mistake had made me resolve to never again, under any circumstances, take something that was not mine. But as far as the knife itself was concerned, I had a hard time deciding what to do with it.
And now I had another reason to think about the knife. Our priests’ group was preparing for a fireside with the Laurels in our ward. The fireside was to be on a Sunday afternoon, and the priests would be giving presentations that focused on repentance. Each of us was to discuss one of the steps involved in repenting of sin: realizing that you have done something wrong, being sorry, confessing, making restitution, and resolving never to do it again. By some unhappy coincidence, I was assigned the topic of restitution.
Of course, the pocketknife swung into my thoughts immediately. What was I to do? With too few opportunities to associate with other members of the Church in Uruguay, I could not conceive of missing the fireside or not sharing the company of my friends. But how could I talk about restitution and repentance while my terrible guilt for stealing the knife hung around my neck like a great weight?
Finally, I took the pocketknife from the cord in the closet. I did everything I could to make it look like new. I mixed some cleanser with lubricating oil and rubbed each part. I consulted a mechanic at the place where I worked and tried washing it with solvents. But the rust was already part of the metal. It was impossible to make the knife the way it had been.
On the Sunday of the fireside, Ariel was surprised when I asked him to follow me into one of the classrooms at church.
“What’s the big mystery?” he asked.
“I have something to give you,” I said. I took the knife out of my pocket and placed it in his hands.
“It’s the knife I stole from you.”
“You? Stole from me? No way!”
“Yes—I stole it from you.”
“I thought I had lost it! Where did you find it?”
He did not want to believe me. I explained in detail how I had stolen the knife. “Will you forgive me, Ariel?” I asked when I had finished. “I have to know if you can forgive me!”
He embraced me. I returned his embrace. We wept together. Then he said, “We are friends. Of course I forgive you.” We had a prayer and embraced each other once more before we left the classroom. No one else had any idea what had happened.
How wonderful our presentation was that night! And how delicious the refreshments were! I could not remember when I had felt happier.
No Missionaries, Please!
The name in the obituary column jumped out at me. A good friend, Herschel Bush, had died suddenly of a heart attack. I had often thought of him, but I had not seen him for more than a dozen years. I noted that he had been a high priest and that he had held many Church positions, including that of temple worker. I could see that the Lord had called home a faithful servant.
I remembered the first time I ever met Herschel Bush. My stake missionary companion, Dale T. Anderson, and I had been out visiting homes on a certain street in Salt Lake City. We had heard that there was one place where the man of the house did not appreciate being visited by Latter-day Saint missionaries. So when we came to the house, we considered skipping it.
As my companion and I talked it over, however, we decided that we had no right to deprive anyone of the message of the gospel. So we timidly knocked on the door.
A man responded and, through the screen door, gave us an angry stare. Unnerved, I nevertheless presented my message. He did not say anything but continued to stare at me for what felt like an eternity. All I could think of was to look back at him. My frightened face must have betrayed my inner fears.
Just as I was ready to break eye contact with his menacing stare, I saw the face on the other side of the screen break into a big smile. The man opened the screen door, stretched out one arm, and said, “Come in! You are the first pair of missionaries I haven’t thrown off my front porch!”
We taught and baptized Herschel Bush. Later he told us that when he opened the door that day, he’d had no intention of letting us in. Then, suddenly, he was touched by a strange feeling that caused him to change his mind.
I looked at the obituary again and wondered how it might have read if Brother Anderson and I had skipped his door that day out of fear. Instead, love and concern had opened our hearts to be guided by the Spirit, and my friend Herschel Bush had become a dedicated and faithful member of the Church.