“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” 2 Nephi 25:23
I want to share a sweet story that happened to my family last week. And I write to persuade my children to believe.
This story is a testament to the love that God has for each of us individually.
Last Sunday our little family walked into church and sat down on our normal bench in the chapel. Chad and Crew came in a little late since they ran home to get the church bag everyone thought someone else had. Normally we aren’t late and normally Chad and I would sit by each other, but this time we didn’t want to do a lot of shuffling after the meeting had started. Therefore, we stayed apart. After the sacrament, Locke hopped off my lap and went to sit on his dad’s lap at the end of the row. The next thing I knew Chad and Locke got up and walked out. I thought Locke must have had to go potty — why else would he leave in the middle of a meeting?
A few minutes later, I saw Chad and Locke coming back in, but this time an older gentleman was with them. It took me a minute to recognize him as my neighbor. We’ll call him Bill for the purposes of this post. I was confused because in the year or so that Bill has lived next door to us, he has never been to church. And I did not know how Chad knew Bill would be there at that time. All of this was going through my mind as the rest of us scooted down the bench to make way for our neighbor.
When we got home from church, I had so many questions. I asked Chad, “Did you know Bill was coming?” “How did you know when to go out and meet him?” “Why did he come today?”etc. Chad and I talked and the whole, beautiful story unfolded:
When Locke hopped off my lap he went and told Chad he needed to get a drink. Chad said yes immediately. He didn’t fight it or ask Locke to wait; he just went with it. Then while Locke was getting a drink at the drinking fountain in the back of the building, Bill came in the back doors. He saw Chad and Locke immediately and asked, “Am I in the right place?”
Chad said it took him a second to register who Bill was. Afterall, we have only talked to Bill a handful of times out in the yard while both of us were doing yard work. People look different when they are all cleaned up, and it can be hard to recognize people out of context. Once Chad realized Bill was our neighbor, he quickly recovered and asked Bill to come sit by us.
That is when the three came into the chapel and we scooted down and made room for Bill.
As Chad pieced together the story for us, I joked with the kids: “Sounds like the Holy Ghost told Locke to go get a drink.”
We laughed, but I couldn’t shake the scenario from my mind the rest of the day. The Spirit let me know that this insignificant event was truly significant.
Later Chad and I were getting ready for bed, and I brought up the situation again. I said, “Chad, I just don’t think it was a coincidence that you and Locke were back there getting a drink right as Bill walked in.”
Chad agreed. We went through all the little details that had to be in place for this event to happen:
First, we recognized we were sitting apart on our row. If we had been together, we would have been a united front against Locke’s drink request.
Second, we noted that Locke needed a drink, and we took him out. We usually don’t let our kids get drinks whenever; we try to teach them the lost art of waiting and delaying gratification. But this time Chad admitted that he didn’t even hesitate to take him. No delaying or distracting or discussing — you know all those techniques we parents try to keep the kids in their seat. Chad just jumped up and they walked out. The timing was important because had they been much later, they would have missed Bill walking in the door.
Next Chad pointed out that it was essential that Locke was involved. If Chad had just been prompted to leave, Bill might not have recognized Chad either as he came in the door. Remember he had only seen Chad a handful of times in a hat, work clothes, and sunglasses — not a suit and tie, but Bill knew Locke well from the tramp and the yard and cookie deliveries. Plus Locke had played with Bill’s grandson a lot this summer while he was visiting. Our kids are more recognizable to our neighbors than me or Chad.
Lastly I pointed out that I thought it was significant that Chad was the one that took Locke out and not me. I probably wouldn’t have recognized Bill as quickly, and I don’t know that I would have had the wherewithal to think to invite him to sit with us. Chad is just friendlier and more comfortable with people than I am. He is vigilant in his concern for others and is perceptive of others’ needs. He knew exactly what to do.
I went to bed in awe of God in the details of Bill coming back to church.
“Again, my brothers and sisters, our Heavenly Father is aware of our needs and will help him us as we call upon Him for assistance. I believe that no concern of ours is too small or insignificant. The Lord is in the details of our lives.” President Monson
The next morning I was still thinking about what had happened, and I was excited to share my testimony with the kids during family scripture power.
As I told them about Bill’s situation I bore testimony that God loves us each individually, and He is involved in the details of our lives. I explained to them that God knew the moment Bill was coming back to church, and He knew who to place at the doors to greet him. God knew Bill was probably a little nervous or afraid or anxious, and He wanted to make sure that someone was there to ease his worries.
I asked the kids to imagine going to church for the first time — not sure where to go — not sure where to sit — hardly knowing anyone — and you walk in the door and who is right there but your neighbors. You don’t know them well, but you have eaten their cookies, played with their kids and talked over lawn clippings. You don’t have to walk in late and awkwardly find a seat alone. You are led in and welcomed by a family. And then afterwards all the kids talk to you and remember you.
I wanted my kids to recognize that God was taking care of Bill through dad and Locke.
As I shared my feelings with my kids, I could feel how much God loved Bill to put everything into place so that he could feel loved and welcome. And I knew if God loves Bill, he must love you and me and everyone in between too.
P.S. Bill sat with our family again this week 🙂