View from Celestial Ridge

You’d think there’d be a burning bush around here somewhere …

View from Celestial Ridge

It was the summer before my senior year of high school, and I didn’t want to flip hamburgers to pay for my back-to-school wardrobe. So when my grandpa asked if I would spend that summer working for him trapping the numerous gophers that ruined the range and wildflowers with their endless tunneling, I agreed. The challenge of doing something none of my classmates were likely to do intrigued me.

By midsummer, the gophers close to the cabin were pretty much under control. I now had to hike farther out to set my traps. One day I was on one of my extended hikes when I stumbled upon the most beautiful scene I’d ever encountered. I just stopped and looked. I had always thought my mountain was the most beautiful one around, but this proved it. From this newly found vantage point, I gazed over miles and miles of rolling hills that spread out beneath where I was standing. I could see two other mountain ranges, clusters of pale purple hues in the distance. I was sure I must be among the first people to have discovered this glorious sight. I decided it was my duty to name this place.

Celestial Ridge seemed like an obvious choice. I decided if I made it to the highest kingdom and was able to create my own worlds, this is what mine would look like.

After this discovery, the mountain rapidly became both a friend and a place for me to worship. Celestial Ridge seemed to fill my needs as the best place to really be alone and draw closer to the Lord. I felt I understood why the prophets of old always seemed to go to the mountains when they wanted to communicate with God.

At nights, I had to find something to occupy my evenings. Since there wasn’t a TV or phone at the cabin I began reading the scriptures. My goal was to read the entire Book of Mormon before the end of summer.

As I dutifully entered this goal on the back page of my journal where I kept a list of both long- and short-term goals, I noticed that one of the long-term goals I always seemed to write down but never achieve was to gain a testimony. I felt I really needed a testimony to go back to school with, even more than I needed new school clothes. So I began reading the scriptures in earnest.

The summer flew by and my stay in the mountains was drawing to a close. I had finally completed the Book of Mormon, and I decided there was no better place to pray about the book’s truthfulness than on Celestial Ridge.

Early one morning I hiked to the ridge. I had begun fasting the night before, and felt I was ready to finally receive my testimony. I knelt down, prayed, and then waited with great expectations. I was ready for angels, a burning bush, or at the very least, the still small voice. I’d read many faith-promoting stories and felt I knew what to expect.

I continued to wait, but nothing was happening. A rush of disappointment swept over me.

Had I done something wrong? I was crushed. I took my scriptures out of my backpack and reread Moroni 10:3–5 [Moro. 10:3–5]. I knelt down again, but still the heavens didn’t open up.

I repacked my dusty blue backpack and trudged back to the cabin while wondering what I had done wrong. I reasoned it must be my fault the Lord hadn’t answered my prayers, because I knew he was there.

When it was time to go back home for school, I was a little despondent as I placed my journal into my suitcase. I really thought this would be the summer I could finally put a check mark by that testimony goal in the back of my journal.

As I waited in the cabin for my parents to pick me up, I noticed I’d forgotten to pack my scriptures. I really didn’t want to read them. Actually I was sort of mad at them because I felt like they had cheated me. However I gave in to boredom and started lazily leafing through the pages.

As I flipped through the Doctrine and Covenants, my eye caught a section of underlined scripture in the 46th section. I read verses 13 and 14; then I reread them again. [D&C 46:13–14] “To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.”

I just stared at the book. A slow, warm feeling started spreading within me. My prayers had been answered. I knew that now. These two verses confirmed that.

All of a sudden I realized that I had been hoping for my own private miracle. But I didn’t need angels or a burning bush or a voice from heaven to whisper to me that the Book of Mormon and the Church were true. I’d already known that. After all, I had known Heavenly Father would answer my prayers because I knew he was there.

I was ready to go back to school. I really had achieved what I’d been working for that summer.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Keith Larson