A Unique Combination
September 2006

“A Unique Combination,” Ensign, Sept. 2006, 70–71

A Unique Combination

It was 5:30 p.m. on a Friday in June 2001, and I was working in my home office when the phone rang. It was my wife calling in a bit of a panic. She and our three daughters had been on a bike ride and had stopped at the supermarket for a cold drink and some ice cream. When they came out of the store, the combination lock securing the bicycles wouldn’t work. The combination was 3690, but it didn’t open the lock, which was firmly holding the bicycles against a metal fence just outside the store.

I jumped in our minivan and drove to the supermarket, but I had no more luck than they had had. I drove my wife and daughters home and began to think of what I could do. The first counselor in the branch presidency repairs saws, so I called and explained my predicament to him. He told me that most bicycle locks of this kind are made from toughened steel that is impervious to saws and bolt cutters. But he said I could at least try to cut the lock.

I found the box containing my electric saw and an extension cable. I called the store to ask if I could use their power for my saw. They kindly said I could. By the time I arrived, it was 7:45, and the store would close at 8:00. I was under pressure and started to panic too.

If the bicycles were there overnight, they would surely be a target for vandalism, and besides, my wife, who couldn’t drive at that time, used them every day to get the children to and from school.

When I got to the store I grabbed my electric saw’s hard plastic case, opened it, and found I had brought my cordless drill by mistake. They both have the same black plastic casing. It was now 7:55 and too late to get home and back before the store closed.

I tried the lock again, tugging as hard as I could to separate the two pieces, but nothing moved. A couple of people were staring at me, and employees were starting to close the store.

I sat in the minivan and thumped the steering wheel, feeling utterly frustrated. Then in my “mind’s ear” I heard my daughter singing the hymn “Did You Think to Pray?” (Hymns, no. 140).

In my panic I had failed to do the simplest thing. I had forgotten to pray. So I bowed my head and explained my situation to Heavenly Father. I left nothing out. I even told Him how silly I felt about the drill/saw mistake. In an instant I felt prompted to try the lock again. I got out of the car, and as I started to tumble the combination to read 3690 again, I heard a number whispered in my ear: 2591. I looked around, but no one was standing there. I tried 2591, and the lock fell open in my hands.

Never before or since have I had an answer to my prayers given so clearly or so quickly. Tears rolled down my face as I loaded the bicycles into the back of our minivan. I hurried home and related the story to my wife and children.

Later when I turned the numbers to 3690, just as I expected, the gaps in the teeth inside the cylinder didn’t line up so that I could put the two pieces of the lock back together. I then tried 2591, and it didn’t work either. Inspecting more closely, I realized that the tumblers had broken. Every time I turned them, a different number would open the lock. So, considering the thousands of possible combinations I could have tried that Friday evening, only heaven could help me find the one unique combination. And all I had to do was ask in faith.