“Missing!” Liahona, June 2004, 44
Late one evening shortly after I had been called as bishop, I received a telephone call from a distressed member. She told me her elderly husband was missing. He had left home to perform some errands and was long overdue. Tearfully, this sister explained that she had called all the hospitals in Southampton to check if he had been admitted following an accident of some sort. The police had also been alerted and were on the lookout throughout the city.
I said I would visit immediately to see if the ward members could help in any way and to give her a priesthood blessing if she wished. She gratefully agreed.
I quickly called the elders quorum president. By now it was after 10:30 P.M. I didn’t normally like to bother members late at night, but this was an exceptional situation and I knew I could rely on Brother Rosser to assist me.
When we arrived at the sister’s home, members of her family were there, and it soon became clear that all that could reasonably be done to help had been done. There was little to do other than to offer comfort and perform the priesthood blessing. We laid our hands upon this dear sister’s head and blessed her by the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood. But when I reached the point when one usually adds comfort and insight as directed by the Spirit, my mind was completely blank. I found myself pleading with Heavenly Father for some words with which I might bless her, while simultaneously examining my life to see if some personal unworthiness was acting as an impediment to divine communication. After what seemed a lengthy silence, I was at last inspired to ask Heavenly Father to bless her with the Holy Ghost in His role as Comforter and then I closed the blessing.
After the blessing as Brother Rosser and I walked to the car, I expressed my concerns about feeling nothing other than to make the request concerning the Holy Ghost. The more I dwelt on the matter, the more my fear increased that something dreadful had happened to the missing husband.
It was now past midnight. As Brother Rosser and I drove away, I felt impressed to drive through a particular district of town rather than taking the direct route home. Brother Rosser agreed that we should follow the impression.
After a few minutes we were halted by a red traffic light where I intended to make a left turn. At that moment what seemed to be a loud and distinct voice instructed me to turn right. The light changed to green, and I turned right. As we drove over the junction, I saw a solitary figure seated on a bench in a deserted shopping precinct. I pulled over, and we got out of the car. As we approached the person huddled against the cold, we called out the name of the missing man. He looked up, and we recognized him. We had been sent directly to him!
This elderly brother had fallen and been knocked out earlier in the day. By the time we found him, he had regained consciousness but was in pain and suffering from exposure to the cold. We quickly called the police, summoned an ambulance, and informed his wife that he had been found.
After we had ensured that all was well, Brother Rosser and I started again for home. We reflected upon what had happened. We had been specifically guided by the Holy Ghost. Our tears flowed freely.
I learned a number of things that night. First, we should give only the blessings we are inspired to give, not those we think the recipient would like to hear. Second, a priesthood holder must always keep himself worthy to be called upon at a moment’s notice. Third, Heavenly Father makes known His will in His own time and way. Fourth, we need to recognize the many ways in which the Holy Ghost communicates to us and to act upon those promptings when we receive them. Finally, I learned that at times the Lord does intervene directly to help, and we can sometimes be the means through which His help comes. I am grateful for the many lessons of that cold, dark night.