Yesterday was fast Sunday for my congregation. This is an opportunity for those in the congregation that wish to, to share their testimonies. When my bishop announced the rest of the time was for the congregation to share their testimony, a strange, but familiar feeling pierced my heart. In the scriptures they talk about being pricked in their hearts and then asking what they should do. (Acts 2:37) It is a feeling that causes a person to jump into action. For me it was an intense stabbing of my heart. I looked at the clock. There was a young man leaving on a mission and a dear sister who had a miraculous surgery, I knew their families would want to take up the rest of the time. What right did I have to share my testimony?
The thing was, I didn’t just have an impression to bear my testimony, I had a distinct stabbing in my heart and a story that I was supposed to share. Not a recent story, a story that had happened to me 15 years earlier. I tried to push away this feeling, but the more I tried, the more I knew that someone in the congregation needed to hear the story I was being impressed to share. I found a break and made a bee line for the pulpit. A few steps up the aisle and I felt a little hand in mine, my six year old had come to accompany me to the pulpit. His presence reminded me that I need to follow my impressions, for you never know whose life you might have the opportunity to touch. So the story I needed to share, was this:
When I was 19 years old, I was home with my parents during the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college. I was attending the local singles branch where my father happened to be the singles branch president at the time. For Relief Society (RS) one night, we gathered at my friend’s home for an activity. My friend lived out of town, deep in the forest. My dad had offered to take me to RS, but had dropped me off and went to do some errands. When I arrived, I was instructed to sit on the front lawn and to be quiet. They were playing some beautiful music. It was soft, calming, and made it easy to be still, even among my dear friends. There were no other instructions given at this point. After sitting on the lawn for a while, I noticed that some of my friends were being taken away. Someone would come, extend their hand, and invite them to go behind the house. My anticipation built, I wondered what could be going on at the back of the house.
My turn finally came. One of my dear friends since childhood came, and offered her silent hand to me. She led me to the back of the house, and I could see the beginning of a rope trail through the woods. I had a feeling that this was a faith walk. I had done these before. Once she put a blindfold on me, I knew it was a faith walk. The point of a faith walk was to represent our earth life where we can’t see God, but if we follow his path, we will make it back to him again. There are many variations of this, but I had never been on one exactly like this one. As my dear friend placed my blind hand on the rope, she put a raw egg in my other hand. She whispered that this was to represent what was most precious to me.
I started on the path, thinking about what was most precious to me. Was it my family? My faith? As I walked along, I realized that this was NOTHING like the faith walks I had been on, for this walk was actually hard. The rope wasn’t just tied to one tree after another. It went high up in the air, so high I could barely touch it, it went so low to the ground that I was crawling. There were boulders to climb over and branches touching my face. At one point, I smacked my head right into a very sturdy, low hanging branch. I fell down, and realized that I was bleeding. I wanted so bad to give up at that point. I wanted to throw my blindfold off and walk away from the whole thing. I am so glad that I didn’t.
Shortly after finding the rope again, I made it to the end. Before I could pull off my blindfold, there were two strong arms that grabbed me and pulled me into a hug. Without being able to see, I knew that hug. I knew those arms. I knew that smell. I knew those tears that dripped on my forehead. It was my dad. As the branch president, he was playing the role of our Father in Heaven, welcoming us home. Yet, because he was actually my dad, I had such a profound realization. I was so happy to be in my father’s arms. I was tired, bleeding, crying, and exhausted when I made it to my dad. I know that when we make it to the end of this journey of life, we will know our Father waiting for us on the other side. We will know His touch. We will know His embrace. We will know Him. After our trying journey, our eternal beings will know that we are finally home.
“Nothing is going to startle us more when we pass through the veil to the other side than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar his face is to us.” –Ezra Taft Benson