“A Small Taste of Love,” Ensign, Aug. 1976, 36–37
When I first met Bert Braack in the early 1930s he was nearing the end of his search. He had taken the Bible admonition, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7), as his personal invitation to prayer, and it had brought him a challenging answer.
Bert’s mother died when he was nine, and his father, an atheist who wanted no part of religion, ran preachers off with a gun. The large family of children received no religious and little moral training. Drinking, smoking, and swearing were a way of life with them.
Yet as Bert grew to maturity and left home to make his way in the world, he says there was a deep craving within him. He wanted desperately to know if there was a God. And if so, what was that God like?
He began attending different churches and reading the Bible. The words in Matthew prompted him to ask for himself, and so, like the youthful Joseph Smith, with an intense desire to know the truth, he offered his first prayer: “If you are there, God, let me know and I will do what you want me to do.” And as he knelt, he says, “A great peace engulfed me, my heart burned within me, and a joy such as I had never known flowed over me. I felt as if I were completely immersed in a great spiritual essence.”
For three days this feeling remained with him, and during all that time, he says, “I hardly felt my feet touch the ground. The pure love of God seemed to completely encompass me, and it was wonderful. During this time I loved everything. I had never cared much for children, but now a great love flowed out from me toward them. I had cursed the rain; now, drenched in it, I loved every minute of it. If this is a small taste of the love of God that fills the celestial kingdom, no wonder the lamb and the lion can lie down together and there is nothing to hurt or make afraid.”
After three days this great joy left him, and he felt he had lost the most precious thing in the world. In great agony of soul he prayed to God to restore it, but he was left on his own. Only now there was a great difference—he knew there was a God. He knew God was real, for he had felt his love and power. He knew God would answer sincere prayer, for his prayer had been answered.
Then came a time of soul-searching. He had made God a promise. He would keep it. He would do what God wanted him to do—if only he could find out what it was. Determined to put his life in harmony with the truth, he first felt God would want him to change his life, so he quit smoking and drinking and tried to overcome other faults.
Then, surely God would want him to learn the truth. He began to study the Bible. Later he read the Koran, works on Buddha, Confucius, and other religious philosophers. The religion shelves at the public library became his schoolroom. He could not rest until he gained knowledge of the truth.
“The local protestant minister was a sincere man who wanted to baptize me,” Bert recalls, “but I gave him a strange answer. I told him that it would do no good for him to baptize me because he didn’t have the authority. I don’t know why I felt this way, but I knew it was true.”
At this point Bert arranged to move to Raymond, Washington, where he remembered seeing many churches. There he began questioning the ministers. “What is God like? Describe him to me. If I met him walking down the street would he be a man? Is he six feet tall, or more?”
The answers were not satisfying. He was told he could not meet God, that God couldn’t walk, that he was not any size but was something that filled the universe.
One day he noticed a small tract at his sister’s home called Rays of Living Light. He read it excitedly and asked his sister where it came from. “If you had been out on the desert for days, dying of thirst, and someone gave you a drink of clear, cold water, you would feel as I did when I read that tract,” he says. “I knew it was the truth. It was as if I were dying of thirst for the truth, and now I had received a small cup of it. I wanted more.”
Bert’s sister told him that her doctor, who was something called a “branch president” in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had given it to her. She thought they were called “Mormons,” too.
Soon Bert had some well-marked tracts, a Book of Mormon, and an invitation to attend church. It was at the doctor’s office I first met my husband, Bert Braack. I next saw him in church. He attended all the meetings. His searching questions kept the members busy studying for the answers.
At last he had found someone who could explain God to him. Joseph Smith’s description of God and Jesus rang true. He could understand a God with a real, tangible body—a God who could walk and talk, one he could meet face to face and who could love with the great love he had felt once before. After a long search, he knew he had found the church with authority to baptize him, and since his immersion one autumn day in the cold Willapa River, his testimony has never faltered.