“The Hand of a Prophet,” Ensign, Mar. 1995, 51–52
Reared in a less-active family, I was nearly thirteen before The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints entered my life. As a child, I had often prayed to the powerful, unseen being who I understood to be God, and I had felt the whisperings of his Spirit. However, I didn’t hear the Joseph Smith story and embrace the Lord’s latter-day revelations until after a branch of the Church was opened in our small logging community in northern Idaho.
My communications with God took on new meaning as I learned more about Heavenly Father at church. I could now imagine a real personage listening to my prayers, an understanding being who had the power and inclination to answer my heartfelt pleas.
At the time, David O. McKay was the President of the Church. I was touched by his counsel and admonitions on the radio at conference time and by his picture in the Improvement Era. I was impressed with his stately physical appearance and warm manner. Held in high regard by Latter-day Saints and community leaders alike, he drew people to him by the power of his personality.
Determined to one day meet this wonderful man, I began to petition the Lord. Nearly every night for six years, I pleaded humbly that some day I would greet the prophet face to face and take him by the hand. My prayers throughout those turbulent teen years, during which my father struggled with an alcohol problem that cast a shadow over our home, remained constant in that one respect.
When I graduated from high school, my paternal grandmother invited me to come live with her in Ogden, Utah. Gratefully I accepted her offer and was soon working and attending night school there.
My grandmother grew up in Huntsville, a tiny town nestled in the Wasatch Mountains a half-hour drive up beautiful Ogden Canyon. I was thrilled to learn that Huntsville was the childhood home of President McKay. My grandmother could remember him as a young boy and knew his family. Just to be able to visit the prophet’s hometown gave me great joy.
One beautiful summer Sabbath, some Huntsville relations invited us to attend sacrament meeting with them and enjoy a meal afterwards at my great-aunt’s home. The Huntsville chapel was old and well used, and the Saints welcomed us with friendly faces and handshakes. Having arrived early, we sat and enjoyed the sweet strains of the organ before the meeting started.
A sudden rustling and murmuring disturbed the reverence of the congregation. As the sounds increased, we turned and saw the members behind us rising to their feet. I could see several men coming slowly up the aisle. In their midst, walking in a veritable radiance of light, came the prophet, seer, and revelator of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President David O. McKay.
My heart was pounding. All during that meeting I was unable to take my eyes off that holy man sitting on the stand. I watched as he partook of the sacrament and listened attentively to the talks. At the meeting’s conclusion, the bishop announced that President McKay had graciously invited the members to come forth and meet him.
In a flash I was on my feet and moving through the crowd. My soul was suffused with joy at the prospect of meeting the prophet. I struggled to think of some words that might convey my deep respect and admiration. President McKay was pressed on all sides by eager arms and hands. Feeling more timid the closer I got, I began to fear that this kind man would weary before it was my turn.
At last I was within an arm’s length of the prophet. My heart beating wildly, I reached out my hand to him. He caught it in his own. The strength and warmth of that grasp sent a flood of joy through me. However, just as I opened my mouth to pour out my heart, an insistent member diverted his attention, and President McKay turned from me. Deeply disappointed, I turned to leave.
To my surprise, President McKay tightened his grip instead of relinquishing my hand. For several moments he held my hand firmly as he responded to the importuning elder. Then he turned to me, smiled into my eyes, and gave full attention to my stammering words.
The Spirit bore witness to me that day that diligent prayer uttered by a simple heart will be answered in the Lord’s own good time. Since that day, I have never doubted that a loving Father in Heaven deals tenderly with his children.