The Sacramento Temple sits on 46 acres atop a great hill, overlooking Lake Natoma. Bathed in sunshine most days, its pale gray granite sparkles amidst giant oaks, the Angel Moroni visible for miles.
Its groundbreaking was in August of 2004, and fell exactly on my wedding anniversary. What a wonderful way to celebrate an eternal sealing, I thought. And, in my regional Public Affairs calling as a Broadcast Media Relations Assistant at that time, I was thrilled to be on hand. I was stationed at a table where I made sure the media got a warm welcome along with their press packets and badges. Dozens of reporters and photographers were there from TV stations and newspapers, filing by on their way to the chapel (a ward building is also on the grounds).
I noticed a man approaching the table. He had a camera around his neck, and was clearly a photographer for the local newspaper. His badge simply said, “Alex.” (I’ve changed his name to protect his identity).
There was nothing about his appearance or demeanor that made him stand out from the others who had filed by, and I certainly didn’t know him. But suddenly I felt enveloped by the Spirit, and could not restrain myself. I heard myself saying, in the tones of someone who loved this man but was disappointed at his stalling, “Alex, when are you going to join the Church?” I have never been so bold, especially with a complete stranger!
Alex responded as if we had spoken before. “I know, I know,” he said. “My wife’s been trying to get me to join for years. I just I don’t know if the time is right”
And then what I said truly amazed me. “Alex,” I said, “You will hear the Prophet say something today that is meant for you personally.” How could I promise such a thing?
Alex nodded, and went into the chapel. I was dumbfounded at the words that had so confidently fallen from my lips. What had come over me, and what had I promised this total stranger?
The meeting began and I could hear the Prophet from where I was stationed in the hallway. And then, to my even greater amazement, I heard President Hinckley say that if there was any man within the sound of his voice who had been putting off his baptism, and causing his wife hurt feelings, the time to do it was now. His wife and loved ones had prayed for him long enough.
I was flabbergasted. The prophet had a message for this man, and God had actually used me to alert him! I was so humbled that I simply sat and cried tears of joy. Ground was definitely broken that day, long before a shovel touched the soil.
Since then I’ve thought about the worth of one soul, and how many times I have seen a great leadereven a prophetused to rescue someone who, to the world, may be obscure, but to God is a monumentally important Child. He wants every single one of us to come home, with no empty chairs. How many of Alex’s wife’s prayers had ascended to God, in her years of anguish as she had waited for a temple sealing with her husband?
How much fasting had preceded today’s events? How many tears had she cried? How many times had she put his name on a temple prayer roll? And what impact would his membership have on their children? How blessed would Alex be to partake in the great Plan of Salvation, and how far would the eternal impact be for generations after him, and generations before him as he did temple work for his ancestors? How deeply did God love Alex?
And how can anyone doubt that God not only gives specific messages to his Prophet, but that his Prophet is obedient and follows through in passing along those messages? How can anyone doubt that prayers are answered?
Later that day I learned that Alex lived in a suburb south of Sacramento, had an LDS wife, and had indeed been taught and fellowshipped by many in his home area. Today Alex has not used his agency to join the church, but I visualize a big “yet” at the end of that sentence. None of us are through baking yet, so to speak, and I continue to hope that a Prophet’s words will linger in his heart and eventually draw him to the truth.
And my moment of sudden courage still stands as a testimony to me that the Lord does work through “rank and file” members to accomplish His goals, and that He is keenly aware of each one of us, and of our particular situation. I was humbled to play a part in that amazing message for Alex.
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