An Amazing Thing

“An Amazing Thing,” New Era, July 1990, 36

An Amazing Thing

Somehow, the book just wouldn’t stay hidden in his junk drawer. Maybe he ought to look at it.

“Danny, have you thought much about serving a mission?” I immediately broke into a cold sweat. I suspected that Bishop Collier had more in mind than just a friendly chat when he invited me to visit him in his office. But I never dreamed this subject would come up. At least, I hadn’t intended to mention it.

I answered as honestly as I could. “No, sir.”

“You mean you have no plans for being a missionary?” He spoke softly, but his eyes looked right through me.

“No, sir, you see with school and all … ,” I mumbled. It didn’t sound very convincing, even to me.

Then an amazing thing happened. Bishop Collier got up and went into the next room. Just when I had closed my ears against the big speech about duty and responsibility, he left. When he returned a minute later, he handed me a book, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder.

“Here,” he said, “if you get a chance sometime, read it. It’s really done a lot for me.”

“Sure.” I didn’t even look up.

I left his office totally bewildered.

I was 18 years old and thought I knew pretty well what I wanted to do with my life. Even though my parents had joined the Church when I was quite young, I didn’t think serving a full-time mission would fit into my plans very well. I went back to school, tossed Bishop Collier’s book into my “junk” drawer and forgot about it.

At least I tried to forget about it. The reason I put the book in my junk drawer was because I could never find anything in there. But now, every time I opened that drawer, the book with the gray and red cover sat right on top of everything else. I finally decided it wouldn’t hurt to look at it.

A few days later, I finished reading it. This was a missionary-oriented book. (Something I suspect Bishop Collier knew about!) I had never realized how much the Lord’s church, the spreading of the gospel, depends on missionary service. I knew someone had to perform that service, but I never imagined the Lord expected me to do it! I began to feel I had a priesthood responsibility waiting to be fulfilled.

Something else had happened. I was hungry—hungry for spiritual food. I had never read any of the standard works of the Church. Basically, I had been starving myself.

I bought a triple combination. Two weeks later I turned the last page in that volume. It took me longest to read the Book of Mormon. It was the only book I ever read that made me cry. That slowed me up quite a bit. When I read about the great missionary labors of Alma, Ammon, and others—their great love for people they hadn’t known before—I couldn’t understand such feelings. I was deeply moved by their patient submission to trials and hardships and by their joy in success. I wanted to belong to such a brotherhood.

I now found myself at a point where I had to make a decision. I knew what I should do. I should ask Heavenly Father what he wanted me to do. But I couldn’t bring myself to do that. I knew what he would say. One thing I had learned in my short life—never ask Heavenly Father anything unless you really want an answer, because you will likely get one.

I asked friends, family, people I respected, what they thought I should do. I got every answer you could dream of and became hopelessly confused.

I even began to have tormenting dreams that pushed and pulled at the very fibers of my soul and made me want to scream.

Finally, I found myself on my knees, attempting what I should have done in the first place.

“Heavenly Father”—even now I tried to talk him out of it—“you know I’m stubborn, rebellious, hotheaded …”

The feeling of warmth, calm, and love that washed over me caused immediate regret for not having prayed about it sooner. I didn’t really have to ask what Heavenly Father wanted me to do. I already knew what I had to do—what I would do.

Photography by Steve Bunderson