“A Purpose Made Known,” Ensign, Aug. 1993, 54–55
The ditch bank was damp and cold against my face as I lay there, knowing that death could come at any moment. I wondered what it would be like to die for my country. It was September 1944, and I was a German soldier, pressing my face into the earth of Nazi-occupied France.
Several French guerrilla fighters were angrily pacing up and down the lonely stretch of road, looking for any remaining German convoy soldiers that might still be alive. It was only a matter of seconds before they would find me lying in the ditch, and then death would surely follow.
A strange thought came into my mind as I waited for the inevitable discovery. If you come out of this alive, you’ll have a special task, a special purpose in your life.
Before I had time to wonder about this odd conversation with myself, I heard the whine of troop trucks carrying German soldiers. The guerrilla soldiers hurried away; I had been spared the wrath of their machine guns.
During all the troubled times that followed, I never again feared for my life, for I knew that God had a purpose for me. However, many years were to pass before I would find out just what that purpose was.
Shortly after the war, I met and married Vera. I felt that a partial answer to my life’s purpose was somehow connected with our marriage, but I recognized that there was still more purpose than this. However, no one seemed to be able to tell me what caused this emptiness in my soul. My concern prompted me to ask my wife to open our doors to anyone who seemed to have more information about God and the meaning of life.
It was with this thought in mind that, one day in 1956, my wife greeted two sister missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She invited the sisters to return later when I would be home. She assured them that I would be very interested in what they had to say.
But for some unknown reason, I was upset when Vera told me about the missionaries’ scheduled return visit. However, I grudgingly agreed to see the sister missionaries and soon lost my ire when the two young sisters were able to answer many of the questions that had puzzled me for years.
In the course of listening to the discussions, my wife and I made the commitment to be baptized. I read the Book of Mormon and felt good about it. My wife also prayed for direction.
But we both felt truly torn as we struggled with this decision. I visited our minister, who was shocked that we were contemplating baptism. We talked back and forth, with the Book of Mormon as the central theme of our conversation.
“Have you read it?” I asked.
“Well, I have, and it’s true.” The discussion was finished as far as I was concerned.
Now one door—my past religious tie—was shut behind me. But I was still hesitant. I felt good about the Book of Mormon but still had no testimony of Joseph Smith. I also remembered my earlier feelings of having a purpose in life, and I struggled with whether or not this church offered me that purpose.
My wife and I began a period of concentrated prayer. Our baptismal date was only two weeks away. We told the missionaries, “Pray for us. The next two weeks are going to be difficult ones.” I sensed that the opposition would only get stronger.
As the day of our baptism grew closer, it became more and more difficult to find peace of mind. I am convinced that the adversary was determined to fight our decision, knowing what joy we would find once we entered the waters of baptism.
Finally, the night before our scheduled baptism, the tension was too much for my wife, and she decided she simply could not be baptized. Perhaps later, but not now.
On the other hand, I decided that if this church was not true, no church was. I was going to go ahead and be baptized.
The next morning, we went into our eight-year-old daughter’s bedroom to awaken her. However, before we could say anything, she sat straight up and asked her mother, “Are you going to be baptized?”
Startled, my wife surprised us both by answering yes.
“Good. You are on the right path,” our daughter said. Then she lay back down and promptly went back to sleep.
Determined to follow through on her statement, my wife was baptized after all. We both knew that we were doing the right thing, and we felt a peace that made our previous doubts and trials seem insignificant.
An added testimony occurred when hands were laid upon my head and I received the Aaronic Priesthood. Once again, I heard and felt the still, small voice I had heard years earlier in that ditch while contemplating death. I knew that I had finally found my purpose in life.