“Water Rights—and Wrongs,” Ensign, Oct. 2002, 70
I was second counselor to a fine bishop some years ago in a small ward in another state. An alarming situation had come to the bishop’s attention, and he counseled with us about two neighbors who were having a serious quarrel over irrigation water. The bishop explained that he wanted to invite the bishopric, along with our feuding brethren, to meet together in hopes of resolving the dispute and averting a potential disaster.
On the appointed day, the bishopric arrived at the church an hour early. We prayed earnestly to Heavenly Father for guidance. After our prayer, we tried to formulate an approach to this situation, but we could not come up with anything.
The two men arrived a short time later. The first to come in was Frank (names have been changed). He was slight of build and a regular churchgoer, but he could be quite strong-minded and unyielding at times. The second to arrive was big Dale. Broad shouldered and powerful, he seemed to have a quarrelsome disposition and a dark, foreboding spirit about him. He was not active, but he did bring his wife and children to meetings before spending his Sundays at the local pool hall.
The tension in the room was almost frightening. I worried there might be an explosion: either physical, verbal, or a combination of these. We looked to our young bishop for direction. Pure inspiration seemed to flow through this young leader; he was completely in charge. He calmly directed us to place our chairs in a circle with the backs inward. Then he invited us to kneel, saying, “Brethren, we need the Lord’s help on this.” We all knelt except Dale. He stood in defiance. The bishop said nothing as he knelt there looking up at big Dale’s scowling face. Finally the bishop bowed his head as if he were about to start his prayer. At this point, Dale also lowered to his knees.
Usually the bishop was not the most eloquent of men, but on this occasion the Holy Ghost seemed to fill his mouth with inspired utterance. As he prayed, the dark, foreboding spirit that had been so overpowering moments before was cast out and replaced by a feeling of sweet calmness.
Standing after the prayer, we noticed through our tear-filled eyes that big Dale was still on his knees. His head was bowed, and his huge shoulders were shaking with emotion. When he finally got to his feet he wiped away tears, extended his hand to his neighbor, and, in a voice still choked with emotion, said, “Let’s be friends.”
The two men shook hands warmly. Then, in a spirit of true brotherhood, we sat down together and worked out an amicable solution to the dispute. All of us left that meeting knowing our Heavenly Father is near and willing to help those who humbly seek Him in faith.